Labor Day landed us in Midway, UT in the Wasatch Mountain State Park. With nothing planned, we learned that the annual Soldier Hollow Classic – Sheepdog Trial Championship was in town. Well, neither one of us had any clue what that meant, but we were down to check it out.
The event ran all weekend long and had all kinds of crazy dog events – Bow Wow Luau Dog Acrobats, Wild Wonders Animal Show, Ugly Mutt Championship, and our favorite, the high flying Dock Diving Dogs Championship (pictured). But, the real reason everyone was there was for the Sheep Dog Trials.
Let me break down what happens at the Sheep Dog Trials:
Border collie (Sheepdog)
8 wild sheep (with red collars)
8 wild sheep (without collars)
24 minutes goes on the clock. 8 sheep with red collars on are way up the mountain to the left and 8 sheep without collars are way up the mountain to the right. The handler and his dog are at the foot of the mountain.
The border collie bounds up the mountain to the first group of sheep. All the while the handler is whistling commands to the dog.
Then, the dog starts driving the sheep down the hill toward a wooden gate. His first obstacle is to get these 8 sheep through this gate.
Once he does that, he halts them, leaves them there, and then heads up the other side of the mountain to get the others. He gathers them and guides them through the same gate and now has all 16 together.
From here, he works them around a wooden post, and then down the mountain toward his master, around a wooden post down there, then back up the mountain and through another gate. Home free! Kind of…
The herdsman, with the help of his dog, must separate the sheep and herd only five of the sheep with red collars to a wooden pen to the side of the circle. With the strong herding mentality of these wild sheep and the fact that he can’t touch them, this proved to be a lot more difficult than it sounds.
By some sly movements with his cane, the handler starts to separate the sheep. When he finally gets five red-collared sheep in a group, he heads off toward the pen. The trick is to keep the sheep from switching groups or running off again.
There was a points system, that I didn’t totally understand, where each obstacle that was successfully completed got you a certain number of points, along with how well it was executed.
Okay, now you’re a pro at Sheep Dog Trials and will know 100% more than we did when walking through the gates on Labor Day!.