English team 1983
and the inspiration for MBCC
Golcar Farm on the edge of the
famous Ilkley Moors
dogs that live for work and fun
A National and International sheep dog triallist, Barbara is no beginner when it comes to competition and is respected amongst the predominantly male participants of the trials circuit.
With her dog Meg, they both had eight consecutive years competing in English National trial events and were part of the English team at Aberystwyth in 1983.
Mainline Border Collie Centre was founded in 1983, during which time it has helped both owner and dog with handling sheep, basic obedience, problem solving, canine behaviour and to understand the dog and relate to its way of thinking, plus countless other related topics.
Mainline’s own Border Collies work sheep and yet are trained to a standard where they have appeared on televisions popular childrens' series ‘Woof’, ‘Out of Sight’ and Prime time viewing ‘Peak Practice’. Some of the media representation for Mainline include tabloids, magazines, TV appearances and TV programmes. However the main function of MBCC is for the welfare and future of the Border Collie.
Barbara herself is not just a farmer and shepherdess but also a canine behaviourist and tries to help people to understand not just how to teach a dog to be obedient but how to communicate with it and understand its needs as a dog – hence TLC-Thinking Like Canines was born.
Golcar Farm is a working farm, you will not find pretty tea rooms and gift shops but you will see farming as it is and dogs that live for work and fun. Dogs with a sense of humour living on a farm that is waiting for you to visit.
Golcar Farm has always been a working farm, it is where I was born and I have spent many happy hours as a child wandering around the farm and, in later years, over the moors but never without my collies. I began training them for sheepwork at an early age and always loved the natural communication needed to create a working partnership.
I have always been involved in rescue, from bringing stray dogs home when I was a child to rehabilitating and training problem dogs in later years that needed rehoming. Married, with two children, and living in Nottinghamshire I joined forces with Hazel Monk, who started the first official Border Collie Rescue, by helping to rehabilitate the problem and aggressive dogs that she was taking in. When my husband died I started my own business, originally the Border Collie & Sheepdog Training Centre the name was changed to Mainline Border Collie Centre in honour of my late great Meg (ISDS 115981). She started it all, she is the matriarch of my present line of dogs, my mainline of business is Border Collies and she comes from one of the main line of dogs, the great Wiston Cap line.
In her time Meg shepherded a flock of over a thousand sheep, we shared nine years of National sheepdog trialling and she took me to the dizzy heights of International honour when we competed in the English Team at the International Sheepdog Trials in 1983. We were part of that winning team and also brought home a trophy for an individual accolade.
Throughout it all Meg slept on my bed, travelled with me wherever I went and was one of my children's closest friends. But she was not an easy dog to train, she taught me the value of patience and she also encouraged me to swear! She was tireless and many a judge sat in fear of being trampled by stampeding sheep when a young Meg thought the word ‘stop' meant ‘go faster'. Training her was like a roller coaster ride but worth every minute of it and the lessons she taught me will stay with me for ever.
Meg came to me at only four weeks old, at her peak she was one of the top trialling dogs in the UK and I was offered an extremely large sum of money for her to be exported to the USA. But you can't put a price on loyalty and my Meg and I were not to be parted!
She died at home with me in 1992 and her legacy lives on in the wonderful family she has left me.
Her great grandson Pip appeared on many television programmes including Peak Practice and the rest of the team have had their share of the limelight, including Hope in Dogs with Jobs.
Skye was Meg's granddaughter and like Meg she spent her working life helping me, working with me and sharing the ups and downs of life, helping me to train and rehabilitate many problem dogs and always amusing people with her look of complete disdain whenever I gave her a command. Skye was the one who, with her determination to make wayward dogs behave, helped Herbie the Beardie get his act together for BBC2's Natural World programme the Bloodhound and the Beardie.
We lived in Nottinghamshire for twenty years but I moved back to run the family farm in the mid 1990's.
During the Foot and Mouth year we were hit very hard and spent almost a whole year with no income whatsoever but many were hit harder. That year brought sadness but it also brought nature to life, with the moors empty of human footfall the wildlife knew no fear and with no work there was time on hand to sit, observe and enjoy. Out of the sadness I could enjoy the fact that the natural cinema all around us costs nothing and it doesn't stop for advertisements!
We have a flock of sheep on the farm and my daughter Vicki, who lives next door, has a small trekking centre and a sheepdog training and handling school and also helps with the running of Mainline and the Trust. My son Gary, wife Caroline and my two grandsons, still live in Nottinghamshire. They run their own furniture company and we occasionally exchange dog food, dog sitting and baby sitting services for... furniture! Mainline is a family business and although Gary has his own business he is still included in an advisory capacity for major decisions and rarely escapes the joys(!) of banging in fence posts when he visits.
I can't remember a time when we have had less than twenty dogs, our own homebreds plus rescues. I do not breed commercially, I breed only for replacements but seem to have a habit of collecting rescue dogs.
We rarely have less than six dogs living in the house. The rest of our gang live in kennels with runs, and they all have exercise paddocks where they can – and do – run around and dig to their hearts content.
We have progressed from having makeshift kennels to a nice block of kennels with individual runs; from working in all weathers to having an indoor training facility; from homebred family dogs to our extended family of rescues and none of it would have been possible without my team of dedicated, loyal, hard working collies and the support of my family, not to forget my insane friends.
Life never stands still at Golcar Farm and in 2007, with a kennel full of rescue collies I became a founder Trustee of the Freedom of Spirit Trust for Border Collies (FOSTBC) a registered charity working for the benefit of Border Collies covering rescue, sanctuary and rehabilitation.
What next for me, my family and the Mainline collies – watch this space.
Barbara has written numerous books
on the subject all of which are available (as signed copies) through this website
Opinions vary greatly about the breed, how it works, how working dogs live, whether they should be in pet homes and, probably the one very close to my heart, can working dogs live inside? My dogs cannot all live inside, there are far too many of them, but the golden oldies do, young dogs do and any infirm or problem dogs do. My dogs are a part of my life, they work, live and laugh with me, they have a wonderful sense of humour and are incredible loyalty.
As well as a love of the breed I have a great respect for it and if I can bring people just a little closer to the heart and soul of a collie and its heritage through words, books, or this website then I will consider some of the love given to me by dogs repaid.
Border Collies are a breed of integrity, loyalty and great freedom of spirit and this is far more important than any trophies or medals they can earn for their owners. Our ancestors worked hard to give us a loyal and true working partner and it is my belief that, to ensure we preserve this heritage for generations to come, we must eliminate the great divide between the farmer’s dog and the companion dog, they are one and the same. Good owners and cruel exist in both, competition addicts and loving handlers exist in both, outside accommodation and bedside exist in both but there is only one Border Collie and this is what Mainline Border Collie Centre is about.
It matters little who the owner is or what their lifestyle is, what matters is the amount of love and understanding they are prepared to give, for you can guarantee that for every little bit you give a Border Collie you will get over a hundred times back and that is worth nurturing for generations to come.