Click the link above to go to the GSCA National Specialty website for all the pertinent information on this event at Purina Farms, Gray Summit, MO on October 3rd -6th.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Click the link above to go to the GSCA National Specialty website for all the pertinent information on this event at Purina Farms, Gray Summit, MO on October 3rd -6th.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Whether you’re a prospective owner researching a breed or an experienced breeder, handler, or judge involved in that breed for decades, there is no better place to learn than the breed’s national specialty show — or, simply, “the national.”
Usually held annually by the breed’s national parent club, the national is more than just a dog show; it’s where dedicated fans of the breed meet together year after year, sharing their knowledge and passion and bringing their best dogs to compete against excellent specimens of the breed from other parts of the country.
In addition to the conformation classes, the national typically offers other events such as obedience, tracking, and agility, as well as breed-specific performance venues such as earthdog or field trials, herding tests and trials, lure coursing, or draft tests.
As with any dog show, the point of the conformation classes is determination of the best breeding stock to continue the breed — and this point is taken nowhere more seriously than at the national. The national offers a look at the state of the breed and where it’s going.
A class win at the national can be a high point of a dog person’s year, and a Best of Breed or Best in Sweepstakes win can be the crowning glory of a long history in the breed.
But the beauty of the national goes beyond the glory of winning, whether hoped-for or achieved. To a dedicated fan of the breed, nothing matches the experience of seeing a ringful of those dogs that are so pleasing to your eye, wonderfully presented at their best and gathered together in a number that you don’t see anywhere else during the year. If you love that breed, it’s positively heart-stirring.
The national is the best place in the world to spend time with others who share your interest. There is no better opportunity to learn from others about the breed, whether ringside or at the breakfast buffet where everyone meets bleary-eyed after walking and feeding dogs and before launching into grooming.
Most parent clubs hold their national in different parts of the country from year to year. If you are seeking in-depth knowledge of a breed, look up the breed’s parent club and find out when and where the next national will be, and try to attend.
Purpose of this survey was to begin to take a measure, the pulse of the GSCA membership so to speak, pertaining to our regional committees and independent specialty clubs, who by virtue of the GSCA’s current policies and procedures are the organizations upon whom we depend first, to host the annual GSCA National Specialty.
We asked respondents to project their opinion out to encompass the next 5 years after 2018 so we could begin to evaluate if there are enough regional committees or independent clubs with interest or plans to cover hosting the National Specialty for the next 5 years. The thought being, that if regional committees and independent clubs have no intention of bidding, perhaps we need to rethink current policies and procedures to better accommodate the future of the event.
67 individuals completed the survey that was posted on Facebook and sent via email to the 400 GSCA members follow the blog, Gordon Setter Expert. Respondents expressed opinions as to their own individual interest about working on a National Specialty, and also their own opinion as to whether the club or committee to which they belonged would be hosting a National Specialty in the future. NOTE: these were not club/committee responses, these are responses from some of the members of those clubs or committees. Polling the club or committee for a direct answer would be a Board decision and action.
First we asked folks to tell us which regional committee or independent specialty club they belonged to:
In the past year or so, has your group/club discussed hosting a future National Specialty or is there an intent to discuss this in the near future?
NO 57% or 38 people
YES 43% or 29 people
How likely is it that YOU, as an INDIVIDUAL, would vote in favor of your group/club hosting the GSCA national Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?
44 Yes or likely 13 No or unlikely
I live in a region without an area committee. I have twice chaired events at previous National Specialties.
I try to support nationals with donations, raffle purchases, etc. I am not a member of a regional club.
I do not have a local club.
I live in QC/Canada
As we are hosting 2017 I can’t answer this question.
not involved in local often volunteer
Not sure as I have not been to a meeting recently
Being discussed but no consensus
Speaking as a member of the group/club, what is your best guess as to whether your group will be submitting a bid to host the National Specialty in your region during any of these years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023?
36 No or unlikely 13 Yes or likely
Don’t know, but they know I won’t be there to help
I live in a region not covered by an event/are committee and has few active GSCA members.
Involved with a group considering 2019
I do not have a local club.
Unsure — too many variables
not a member of any other club in the USA
Not a clue.
Not a clue
Use this section to give the name of any other clubs to which you belong as listed above, as well as the answers to the two questions above.
I am also a member of the Standing National Specialty Committee
I belong to Fredricksburg Virginia Kennel Club and the GSCA. I used to belong to the Blue Ridge Gordon Setter Club.
I’ve been to the Rhode island National, it’s close to QC so I would go if possible again.
Badgerland is an Event Committee so has no actual membership and can’t charge any dues. About 5 years ago Badgerland was approached by Highlanders to have a specialty show in connection of the ones they used to have. This was brought to a meeting by a couple of our members (we were still a club at that time and not an Event Committee). When asked about the costs involved nobody could provide us with any information so we floored the discussion until more information was provided which never happened.
New Mexico Gordonites
Think I’m in Midwest (Ohio) by default, ie no action on my part, but get questionnaires referring to judges and specialty show timing.
WVESF, Willamette English Setters Fanciers
Badgerland although it is not an active club anymore
Use this space to provide any additional information regarding the obstacles or reasons why your group/club might be unable or perhaps unwilling to host the National Specialty?
The “new” committee rules which eliminated our ability to organize as a local club to retain interest and attract new members locally.
I love in a region without an organized area committee. Gordon owners in my region are primarily pet owners or hunters with little interest or experience in hosting a dog show.
Not enough folks in our area.
They didn’t even have a fall specialty this year.
Cant see any reason, they are highly capable.
Not enough people to do the work. Also the membership is older.
We do not have enough active members to even begin to host a national.
Enough reliable people. Need a person to coordinate.
lack of workers. Many are overworked from the past decades and feel that newer, younger members should work. There are many exhibitors that have never helped with a regional or National Specialty and many older members no longer exhibit and feel it is their turn it sit back and enjoy without spending so much time and out of pocket expenses for the benefit of others and often feel like they are unappreciated.
I don’t speak with other members very much lately.
Our independent club has hosted successful multiple national specialties and field trials. Quite frandly, our club is ‘aging’ out and we do not feel that we would be able to filed the bodies or time in order to host a national of the caliber we have become used to producing.
Hosting a National Specialty is a lot of work. The work falls on the shoulder of fewer and fewer volunteers as clubs become smaller.
I live at a distance from both these clubs so I am not involved in day to day decisions. However, I am able to help with online things which I did with the last TarTan NS.
Club members inability to participate. Money it costs. time constraints for those that might consider it.
TarTan has hosted the National Specialty in 1989, 1997, 2004, and 2012. It’s a lot of work and our membership is aging out and some who have headed up past events have stated they are no longer willing.
Cost and lack of members willing to help, like most clubs, it gets harder to find volunteers and those that do are aging.
Not enough people, not enough financial support from the GSCA
Once of the big factors in hosting a national specialty (especially in clubs which do not have large number of members) is the cost. In my opinion the national club need to commit to providing significant financial assistance with covering those costs that cannot be completely covered by entry fees, specialty “social” event fees, etc.
Too few volunteers, too big of a need for fundraising. It’s ususally the same people doing all of the work with little help from other club members who still will sit back and complain about things.
Lack of membership & opposing ideas on what would make a national a great event. members who want to do everything on the cheap vs putting your heart and sound into an event.
Our members do not show they hunt and are mainly pet people.
We just had one in Ohio so it wools dall in the latter part of that range.
Badgerland hasn’t even managed to put on a Hunt Test or Field Trial in the past couple years. We also don’t have am actual membership anymore because in order to do that we would need to form separate club. We don’t have meetings either. The majority of the male’s in our club don’t want to participate in any “show” events so they would not be willing to help with a national which also limits the number of people we would have to help.
Age of members, number of workers, amount of work involved.
Older people in group. Most are not willing to do the work involved. Same few do most of the work.
This is a bit lengthy to try and explain but pretty much ever since we became an area committee and not be considered a club, hold meetings, collect dues etc. we ahve lost interest. We have no reason to get together. Last several field events have been cancelled due to lack of entries. Since no reason to get together (hence the club feel) hard to get members (that is a whole other topic) to commit or gain new members. People want to belong to a club. Not just put on events for the parent club. We always had the same group doing the same thing. Personally I’m burned out and without you being a GSCA member you can’t be on the committee to begin with.
Fundraising is arduous and difficult. People now have health limitations and lifting restrictions that making setting up and long days of work difficult.
Not enough volunteers. And money.
We’re aging to the point where the physical work load is simply too much to handle. Carting around items to sell to raise fund to host the event is exhausting and we’re past the point where we want to do that.
Fewer people involved in the club makes it hard to spread the work load. We’re burned out and exhausted but at the same time do not want the event to go away.
We are hosting next year so I doubt we would be willing to do it so soon again.
I think age is taking it’s toll. Age of the people, not the dogs.
We hosted the National in 2013. At that time we had about 25-30 members. Now we have only about 5 members.
Feel free to share any additional thoughts or comments here that may be of value regarding this topic.
I have attended most of the National Specialties in the past 5 years and have shown dogs in Conformation. I prefer that the National Specialty be held in different parts of the country, not only so that I have the chance to travel, but also so that Gordon owners across the nation can have the opportunity to have the specialty located near them. I do not believe that a single permanent location is a good idea for the club membership as a whole. However, a standardization of the time of year or length of time between Nationals might assist members with seasonal obs, like teachers, attend the show and eliminate long tretches of time between shows, i.e. more than 12 months.
It seems that even having to come up with the volunteers and organization to hold a national specialty every few years is overwhelming for regional clubs. We all know that 10% of volunteers do 90% of the work in ANY volunteer organization, so no wonder we wear them out. I would support having a standing committee at the national level who would do the majority of the work to organize a national specialty with a local club providing a much more minor amount of support (since I have never been around a club doing a national I don’t know how that division of work would be decided but someone would!) much closer to dhow time. As a club we may want to think about a national every two years instead of every year or 18months, perhaps that would spread the work out as well. (This has likely been suggested in the past, not sure) Thanks!
Left the club because i was not made to feel welcome or like I belonged.
Fundraising is one of the biggest obstacles in putting this event on.
Having it spread out for 4-5 days in the middle of the week prevents a lot of working members from attending.
I think we need to get back to the basics of the national. Focus more on the ring experiences instead of too many extra fundraising activities. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the social interactions but I think we have jam packed too many in one day and it forces people to choose what they can afford or have time to do.
I am not a member of any dog club, but have participated in National Specialties in the past. As nice as it is to visit other parts of the country, the number of folks participating at this time seem to indicate that the Midwest is drawing the most participants. I know it is not fair to the coastal folks, but it is what it is. We need to think of the needs/wants of the many and not just a few. Also, perhaps looking into a certain time of the year instead f any time during the year might make it easier for people to plan. For instance the coastal people might be more inclined to drive through the mountains in early summer to early fall.
Since jobs and/or weather are factors in traveling long distances, Nationals should be held June through August every other year. Let’s not marginalize younger club members who are not retired. We are a club with an aged membership and need to solicit younger members and juniors.
We hosted extremely successful (in entries and financial outcome) events, yet we had the feeling that the GSCA board and the Club in general was not supportive of our efforts and some non working members were extremely critical and demanding of the hosting members. Did not leave a good feeling with some of our hard working members.
I do like the National moving around the country so everyone has a chance of attending, although I do know other breeds that have been happy to have all their Nationals at Purina Farms. I’ve never been able to attend one west of Ohio primarily because of the time of year—if the National is during the academic year, I can’t attend. For that reason I will be unable to attend the AZ National.
like I said I would be happy to participate in the east part of the USA near the border but I am not a member of any other club in the USA.
Badgerland “hosted” the NFT back in 2005 and we were treated like shit by the National Field Trial Committee so that has also left a very bad taste in our mouths about National event. We did take care of the silent auction at the Minnesota National and the Hunt Test at both of the Nationals put on by the Highlanders but we still had a difficult time finding enough people in our club (at that time we were still a club and not an Event Committee) to man the events.
Would love to attend a national…never have.
I find it hard to find people that want to even get involved anymore. You get a few people here and there. But if you look at the majority of who organizes these things. These people have been around for years. Haven’t had anyone interested in joining for quite some time. Tell me what they are joining?
Fund raising by National Specialty volunteers needs to stop or be made optional. Too much work and pressure are being placed on those who volunteer to put on the show. the same people volunteer over and over. Many, including board members, have never taken a leadership role in putting on a National and they have no idea what’s involved.
We need to develop a plan to streamline the work involved in hosting the event and that might mean using a single location where most of the set up, clean up, equipment etc. is handled by the site management such as that provided by locations such as Purina or Eukanuba. We must streamline fundraising, and we must find another means to finance the GSCA’s overall operations as the folks supporting the national Specialty should not be the only members who’s donations and generosity are being used to cover the GSCA’s bottom line expenses – proceeds from the national Specialty would all ideally be funneled back into the National Specialty and not disbursed to cover any and all other outstanding GSCA expenses such as the Newsletter, board expenses, printing, pictorial, etc. This would put less of a financial burden on the National’s committee, exhibitors and participants and alleviates much of the fundraising pressure.
Not sure why AZ should be an issue. Was RI an issue several years ago? Would be curious to know what entry counts at various Nationals has been compared to registered Gordons.
I really hope that the NS continues to move around the country. I know the general membership feels most of the exhibitors live in the mid-west or further east and the Purina Farms would be ideal. It is a lovely place but quite cost prohibitive to drive from western Canada.flying continues to be difficult. I have also flown to eastern Canada and then rented a vehicle to drive south to the NS again cost is a factor as to how many dogs I can bring and if I can find someone to share expenses. I do my best to get to most of the NS and I enjoy seeing the US.
Thoughts of course chairing between 2 clubs. Compromise is always difficult but would be less cost to each individual club. GSCA make a larger contribution maybe.
While it is fun to visit other areas, it would be nice to have a “central” location and especially nice to have the same week every year. It makes planning the trip much easier.
I feel the standing National Specialty Committee needs to plan to host the National yearly. There are a lot of parent clubs that host their National every year. I feel there are a good number of GSCA members who would be willing to help out if asked. You cannot always count on just asking who would like to volunteer but must specifically ask someone – can you do this ___? I would like to see at least 1 day of our event held on a weekend. I do not think we should overlook holding our National with an all breed show, our embers are dropping to a point that could be done.
Personally, I don’t think member input is valued by the GSCA. Decisions are made by the board in our name, but there is little discussion or request for input. It might have been nice to see an email blast about the 2018 national before a decision was made. It’s great that we had two bids, but a November national can be iffy with weather and holiday issues.
We are falling apart as a club. People make suggestions but nothing is changed. We need to have nationals over a weekend where people can go.
Published by Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Feature photo by Ben Gordon Setter Perez
This may be the first of many short articles dedicated to the future of the GSCA National Specialty. We need you to join the discussion, and the 4 question survey at the bottom of this article will help to begin gathering information – please participate !
Where we were and where we are today.
It is the GSCA practice to host the National Specialty at various geographic locations through the US and this had served us well. However, over the past 11 years the regional committees and independent clubs who used to step forward to host the National have been unable to do so, leaving us with many years where the National would not have been held, had it not been for the National Standing Committee or other individuals who stepped up to the plate to fill in those gaps.
Half of the time, 5 out of 10 years, the GSCA was unable to find a regional committee or Independent club who were able to host the National. To simplify, had we not been for the National Standing Committee and had we not allowed others to organize a committee without being a typically recognized group, we would not have been able to host a National Specialty half of the time.
Our future and do we need to change some practices?
So, it seems to many of us, like this is the time for us to hold discussions and solicit feedback from you, the membership, (at least from those of you who participate in the National Specialty) as to how to organize the future of the National Specialty. If you’re a Facebook member you’ll find an ongoing discussion on this topic on the Gordon Setter Students and Mentors Group.
To begin, we need to determine if there is enough interest and volunteer workers remaining in our regional committees and independent clubs to continue the practice of hosting the National, every year, in various geographic locations across the country.
The following survey will take you less than a minute to complete but will gather some basic information to move the discussion forward in the right direction. We invite all GSCA members who are also actively involved with a GSCA regional committee or an Independent Gordon Setter club to complete this quick questionnaire. We’re seeking to gain an overview of the situation here, and don’t need specific and exacting answers, so answer to the best of your ability with your own opinions.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Feature photo by Ben Perez
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$20.00 per catalog – limited quantity available at the show (no preorder)
$25.00 per catalog – preordered, marked and mailed the week following the show (includes US postage)
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JUST SAYIN – you don’t want to miss the excitement and the learning opportunities at the most anticipated event in our breed, the GSCA 2015 National Specialty. With this year’s convenient location in the heart of America the geographic location for the 2015 National allows folks from both coasts a more equal opportunity to make the trek. I’m expecting to see the very best in competition at this event with fabulous dogs from all corners of the U.S.
” All aspects of the 2015 GSCA National Specialty will be held at Purina Farms’ state-of-the-art Event Center. Purina Farms is a short, 40 minute drive from downtown St. Louis, MO.”
You’ll never find an opportunity to see as many fabulous Gordon Setters if you limit yourself to attending only local All Breed Shows and Specialties. In my opinion, you cannot fully develop successful breeding programs if you don’t know the competition’s best attributes. What better place to learn those attributes than by seeing them in the flesh at the National? (Notice I’m not mentioning finding their faults? That’s because I believe relying primarily on fault judging of your competitors dogs will be the fastest method you can employ to failure.) Yes, we must know the faults but breeding decisions should be based on strengths. You’ll never find a better place to view the strengths of so many other Gordon Setters if you don’t take the time to actually see them at their very best, in competition, in the ring, in the flesh.
If you are a serious exhibitor/breeder attending the National Specialty is the most versatile learning opportunity you can give to yourself. It is here that you’ll broaden your view of Gordon Setter type, style and structure. Your knowledge of the breed will broaden merely by sitting ringside to watch the judging. Ringside is where it’s at people, as this is there where you’re certain to see every example of Gordon Setter, and often multiple generations of Gordon Setters from breeding kennels all over the US, Canada and sometimes beyond. Seeing is learning, nothing can replace that for the serious breeder.
Are performance events like Obedience, Agility and Rally your thing? Well then why would you miss this chance to meet others who face the same challenges and successes that you’ve encounter with your Gordon Setter? The people you’ll meet at the National competing in performance events are your best source of training methods that work the well with our breed. Why would you deny yourself the chance to meet others like yourself involved in your breed, the Gordon Setter, to share knowledge and training methods? Ask any good trainer how they “got their dog to do that” and they’ll be sure to share.
It’s not about going to the National to win, it’s about winning through learning! Hope to see you there!
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ