by Lori Herbel
The excitement a handler feels when they win first in their class, High in Trial, or Reserve will never be forgotten. The ribbons and trophies they take home from that trial will always serve as a reminder of that special time.
For clubs just starting out that need some ideas on what to offer for trophies, or for clubs that would like some new, refreshing ideas on trophies, here are just a few suggestions. Several of these ideas will also work for judge's gifts.
Herding enthusiasts always enjoy trophies that are practical and useful - trophies that they can take with them to upcoming trials. Shepherd's crooks are always popular, and to recognize that it is a special crook, add an engraved nameplate giving the name of the host club, the date of the trial, and the honor for which it was given, such as "High in Trial". The recipient can either use it, or hang it on the wall at home. Either way, it will always remind them of your club's trial and the success they had. Crooks range in price, depending on whether they are made in the U.S., or imported, and whether they have any personalization or engraving on them.
Another practical and well-liked trophy is a shepherd's whistle. These come in many shapes, sizes, and types of material - plastic, aluminum, titanium, sterling silver, buffalo horn and more. More reasonably priced whistles can be offered for first place in the class, all the way up to sterling silver engraved whistles, which like the crooks, can be used or placed in a trophy case. An accessory which can be added to the whistle trophy is a handbraided leather lanyard.
Leather collars and leads are also great ideas for trophies. Again, engraved nameplates can dress up these items. If the design of the collar/lead prevents a metal nameplate from being added, have a hanging nametag added with the same information. With these trophies, if you have any left over at the end of the trial, a simple change of the nameplate or nametag will allow you to hold them over for awarding at the next trial!
Why not offer an embroidered jacket or blanket for High in Trial, or Reserve High in Trial? Custom embroidery businesses will be happy to add your club's logo to their computer for a one-time fee. Several embroidery companies already have different types of sheep and cattle pictures in their computer that you can incorporate into your design. To insure that you will have the correct size and style, a club may opt to give a gift certificate so that the winner may choose their own.
Trophy buckles are also a great way to show off special wins. Custom buckle makers can make your club logo, or you can use a design they already have and let them engrave the trophy information. Buckles are a definite favorite among trailers, who can never collect too many buckles, especially those that say, "High in Trial!"
Director's chairs are another favorite. The canvas backs to these chairs are often easily removable and custom embroidery, or a custom painting can be added.
Training videos and training books can also make nice trophies, and a simple inscription inside the front cover can be added to remind the recipient just where and when they won the item.
Another practical idea is an airline or metal crate. These can be dressed up with an engraved plate attached to the front. Size could be a consideration, if your event is open to all breeds. A 200 crate might not be too useful if the trial is won by a German Shepherd, and a 500 crate might not be very handy for a successful Corgi handler!
Why not give first place in each class a T-Shirt, sweatshirt, or cap with your club's logo on it? Most clubs have these available as a fundraiser anyway, and have a variety of colors and sizes to fit anyone. In addition, your club will get some free advertisement when the handlers wear them at other trials.
Herding art prints, bronze sculptures and figurines are unique and a lot of fun to collect. Engraved metal plates will add the finishing touch. Consider though, what breed may possibly win the print, and whether it will be the breed depicted in the artwork or sculpture.
Trophies are a wonderful reminder of good and successful times. Quite often, they serve as conversation pieces to those both new and old in the sport. You just never know when someone's admiration of your club's trophy might add to your next event's entries!