The Border Terrier Rally


History of The Montpelier Rally

By Jackie Kensler

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The Rally has its roots at Montpelier, the beautiful, historic estate of Marion duPont Scott, near Charlottesville, Virginia, which is now the property of the National Trust. Mrs. Scott, who passed away in 1983, was a breeder and generous supporter of the BTCA from the mid 50's. Her first and favorite Border, Wallace, was a blue and tan with a charming, flying ear. So devoted to Wallace was Mrs. Scott, she threw him elaborate birthday parties at Montpelier, to which she invited her Border Terrier friends and their dogs. The third of these parties, held in 1957, was the first BTCA Plan A Sanctioned Match, which was a requirement toward applying to the AKC to hold a Specialty. Two years later, the BTCA held its first Specialty at Garden City, Long Island.

For the next three decades the Specialties were held in New England or the Northeast, with no matches being held at all, and no Border Terrier events in the south, despite a growing population of BT devotees in that area.

In 1985, Edwin and Hope Levy of Richmond, Va., sought to rectify that. With the blessings of the BTCA and the support of many other BT owners, the Levys organized a Fun Day at Montpelier, by then operated by the National Trust, and held it as close as possible to Wallace's April birthday.

Staging the Rally was a family affair, with the Levys' children, employees from their Richmond printing firm, and even their employees' children helping out. A carpenter friend made the hurdles and gates for the races and drove them to the site. These same friends and family members were to help for nine years until respectfully declining after the 1994 event. They had devoted themselves to the effort long enough, and besides, it was ALWAYS during the Masters Golf Tournament and they really wanted to watch! They couldn't be blamed, after all. They didn't own Border Terriers!

Many of the Border owners who devoted themselves to the planning and organization throughout the years, such as Barbara Kemp, Mary Oppermann, Cindy Peebles, Betsy Kirkpatrick, Camilla Moon and Judy Gilman, recognized the popularity and importance of the event and didn't want to see it end any more than the Levys did. So the baton was passed to Camilla and Judy who then spearheaded the efforts to make the wonderful, fun day live. Camilla and Judy have been joined in recent years by fellow Virginian Faye Lee, who has added her enthusiasm and talents to the planning and promoting of the rally.

After the 1995 Rally the Montpelier site became cost prohibitive and the event was moved to near Warrenton, Va--Casanova. From the first year the event was a great success, drawing approximately 90 people. The first judge was Damara Bolte -- a meaningful choice as Damara had shown many of Mrs. Scott's famous Borders to Championship. The BT folk came to the Rally from all over, not just from the south. Throughout the years, supporters have traveled to the Rally from New York and New Jersey, up from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and from as far away as England for this special day. English judges have included Ron Irving and Ron Hillcoat.

The 1991 Specialty was held in conjunction with a show on the Cherry Blossom Circuit, with Sweepstakes and other Specialty events being incorporated into the Rally program at Montpelier. That year Specialty and  Sweepstakes were judged by noted English breeders Marjorie Staveley (Dykeside) and Maureen Thompson (Thoraldby), who were accompanied by their husbands, Brian Staveley and PeterThompson. The original programs included Obedience, Conformation, Go-to-Ground, and the races. Lure Coursing, the Children's classes, and Agility were added later.

It should be noted that the Rally is not, and never has been, strictly for the ring and ribbon-minded. It is a FUN DAY for breed newcomers, pet owners, and long-time breed aficionados to gather and celebrate the Border Terrier. Neutered and spayed dogs are welcomed in all classes except conformation. The variety of informal activities and competitions give those at all levels, from the most novice, an opportunity to relax and enjoy a Spring day in the country with their dogs, friends and family. Owners and their BTs who have yet to be exposed to activities such as agility, go-to-ground, conformation, racing, and lure coursing can experience them with patient and enthusiastic assistance, with an emphasis on FUN, PARTICIPATION and EDUCATION rather than studied achievement. Attendees can participate in as many or as few of the activities as they choose. Those wishing to simply enjoy the outdoor environment and camaraderie are equally satisfied with the "family picnic" atmosphere.

The Rally is a must do event, and the maker of lasting memories.