Like many top border collie trainers and handlers, Kent was born into shepherding. Kent's dad, Henry, was a shepherd who tended large flocks for himself and others. As part of the sheep management, Henry used border collies and started his own breeding program using top working lines imported from the UK.
Naturally, Kent was involved in handling sheep and dogs as a youngster. At age 13, after proving himself worthy of the task, he was given Pepper, his first dog to train. Kent demonstrated his talent in training Pepper by winning the novice award at The Walnut Hill Sheepdog Trial in Lexington, KY.
As he grew older, Kent helped his dad with shepherding duties and demonstrations, as well as training dogs on his own. By the time he was an adult, Kent was training dogs, doing demonstrations, shepherding and shearing sheep for a living.
His needs in his daily work shepherding and shearing influenced his training methods and appreciation for the type of dog that could handle the real work situation. This true understanding of the real purpose of the dog formed a solid basis for Kent's later success as a trainer and handler.
In 1988, Kent met his future wife, Gwen, at a sheep show in Springfield, MA. Although Gwen had minimal experience with border collies at this point, she had a lifetime of sheep experience and was a graduate of the University of Connecticut Animal Science Department, specializing in ovine genetics. Their common interest in sheep led to the development of a lasting relationship.
As a courting gift, Kent gave Gwen Salt, her first border collie. After whelping out Salt, Gwen kept one of the puppies, Paige, who became her long time close companion, Open trial dog and work partner.
Kent and Gwen married and started a family. A daughter, Kara, was born in 1991. Then in 1995, their son Kody arrived. (Kara, Kody, and family friends worming the flock.)
In the late 80's Kent took up sheepdog trialing in earnest. Some of the first trials they attended were the Virginia Nursery series. That series started the trialing career of Kent's first Open dogs, Pal and Jet.
As Kent went around to the different trials, a particular dog, Tommy Wilson's Roy, caught his eye. Kent believed Roy would cross well with Gwen's talented Paige. The cross between Roy and Paige produced Kent's now-famous Bill.
Bill was a big, ugly pup that nobody else wanted. However, he was Kent's first choice from the beginning because of the way he looked right into Kent's eyes like he was trying to connect with him.
At less than a year of age, Kent began to recognize the natural ability in Bill. Here was a dog with the character to go with his talent and a special partnership was forged between the two over time.
Kent's accomplishments with Bill have been impressive. At 8 years old, he was the Reserve National Champion at the USBCHA 1999 Finals. In 1995, he won the prestigious Purina Outstanding Herding Dog Award- one of only three dogs to date that was bred, raised, trained, owned and handled by the same individual.
Other major accomplishments include winning the Virginia Triple Crown and the Carolina/Tennessee Triple Crown, 3rd in 1996 National Finals, 4th in the Purina Award in both 1994 and 1996, and 3rd in the Working Border Award (formally the Purina Award) for 2000. Now nine years old, Bill continues to dominate the prize list at the finest trials around the US, topping the list of points for USBCHA trials for the 1999-2000 Finals
In addition to his success with Bill, Kent has had an impressive two years with Coon. Coon was purchased from Bobby Ford at four and a half years of age, already trained to Open level.
He was bred by Nancy Schreeder and trained by Hubert Bailey. Coon is not a dog that everyone could run, but with Kent, Coon found a partner. A consistently high placing team in their first year of trialing, Kent and Coon further polished their teamwork to win the Working Border Collie Outstanding Herding Dog Award (formally the Purina Award) for the year 2000.
Kent also ran Karen Hart's farm trained Leah in 1999, scoring some impressive placings at well-respected trials such as Meeker.
To further add to Kent's success is Dehl, a youngster Kent bought as a puppy off Bobby Ford's Megan and Barbara Ligon's Dale. Dehl was an early maturing dog who, at a year and a half, was able to handle the tough sheep at 1999 Nursery Finals In VA, ending up 15th. Now at only two and a half years of age, he has won the USBCHA 2000 Nursery Finals as well as other open trials.
As Kent continues to prove himself to be one of the best in the trialing world, he and Gwen also continue to prove excellence in their common interests of breeding livestock and continuing their line of border collies. They pride themselves in producing dogs capable of doing a variety of tasks.
Their background in sheep management gives them the knowledge to select dogs for their breeding stock based on generations of proven ability and sound working characteristics. (Gwen today, with Meg, feeding the Dorset flock.)
Kent's understanding of dogs and sheep, and his training methods that allow the dog to develop naturally as it's trained, are the key elements to his success as a trainer and handler. His ability to work many different types of dogs while bringing out the natural ability and true work ethic in each of them, marks Kent as one of this country's most skilled handlers both on the trial field and in the real work situation.