Sheepdog Trials

We’ve been away on a big vacation trip to Idaho to visit the Trailing of the Sheep festival. What a fun visit it was! I recommend it to anyone who gets into wool, sheep, fiber arts, and seeing new mountainous terrain.

One of the events we enjoyed was watching the sheepdog trials. The point of the festival was that in October they bring the herds of sheep down from their mountain grazing grounds and get them loaded up for shearing and such. This was a great opportunity to show off the talents of those amazing border collies and their trainers.

I captured this photo of a trainer and her dog, partly because I loved the sweater she was wearing and thought I’d use the colors and pattern myself some day. Besides that, though, she was a good example of the exhibition. She communicated with her dog almost exclusively by whistles.

In this picture, you can see how far that dog had to run to pick up her five sheep way down there at the base of the mountain pass. The dogs had a prescribed route to follow, bringing the sheep all the way back to the trainer, then through two pairs of gates, around a post in the middle, and finally into a circle where they had to “shed” two sheep apart from the other three. None of the dogs were remotely perfect and the announcer who was explaining it to the crowd said these sheep were unusually tough because they’d been on their own all summer and were not real interested in obeying a dog. I loved watching the relationship between the trainer and dog, though, and had dreams of training one of my own. Not going to happen – too much work!



About bluestempond

Hobby farmer living at Bluestem Pond in Michigan.
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