October 26-29, 2017 • Cedar City, Utah
Research has shown the Border collie to be the smartest breed of dog in the world; they are also one of the most athletic. Come watch these highly intelligent canine athletes work sheep in the with their handlers. You are sure to be impressed.
Stock Dog Trials
7:30AM Handlers’ Meeting
7:45AM National Anthem
8:00AM First Dog on Field
6:00PM Trial Ends
Dogs will run from 8:00AM to 6:00PM each day
Bleachers are available for seating. Bring a chair if you’d like.
Food and drink available for purchase.
PLEASE DON’T BRING DOGS TO TRIALS!!!!
Top Dog Contest
3 to 5:30 PM Iron Rangers Outdoor Arena
THE SHEEP DOG TRADITION
Britain has long been home to the herding dog. From Neolithic times, through the Roman Empire occupation and up to the present day, herding breeds have always “pushed” livestock over British terrain. Early herding dogs were large, powerful animals that, while rough with stock and difficult to control, nevertheless displayed an instinct to gather sheep.
In the nineteenth century, the need for a more versatile dog, one with a gentler temperament and a more malleable nature, became apparent. Small farmers, who could not afford to feed several dogs, required one that could not only gather sheep with a keen eye but also swiftly hunt game and sniff out sheep buried in snow. Dependent to such a large extent on his dog, the farmer also needed the animal to develop a close working partnership based on cooperation, affection and respect. Because this dog would work far afield from his master, it would also have to possess sensitivity to the human voice, whistle and gesture.
Several breeds were introduced into the strain of these early herding dogs. Fleet of foot and quiet by nature, the Whippet added its specific traits to the herding breeds. To provide a “good nose” and a “strong eye,” Pointers and Setters were also bred with the herding stock. Eventually a dog possessing superior athletic ability, a light and quick movement, a canny livestock sense and a tractable temperament sensitive to a handler’s will but independent enough to work without constant direction emerged from the crossbreeding. In 1894, in Northumbria, on the English/Scottish border, Adam Tefler introduced the first of what would become known as the modern Border Collie.
The Border Collie’s ancestors appeared in the United States during the mid-eighteenth century as working companions to immigrant British farmers. As early settlers moved farther west, so too did the herding collie.
In 1849 gold was discovered in California, and miners’ camps sprang up throughout the west. Wildlife food sources were soon depleted. To provide meat to these camps’ residents, herders on horseback and their hard-working dogs moved large numbers of cattle and sheep to lucrative western markets. Recognizing that the vast Plains’ grasslands and the Rockies’ lush mountain valleys would allow extensive grazing operations, sheepmen from the Scottish Borders area imported their sheep, Collie dogs and native herdsmen to support an emerging sheep ranching industry. Since the herders were paid in land, sheep, cash or a combination, they were progressively able to actuate the American dream of land possession.
While the human element in the American sheep industry may have changed complexion, the talented Border Collie has remained constant. The breed continues to flourish as the dominant working herding dog in the United States.
HISTORY OF DOG TRIALS
On October 9, 1873, in Bala, Wales, 300 spectators braved the wet and cold to witness the earliest recorded dog trial. They saw a Scotsman best all other competitors, who were Welsh, to take top honors. Trials quickly gained popularity with the first Scottish trial in the early 1870’s and the first English trials in 1876. In 1906 the International Sheepdog Society was founded to bring organization to the trialing world and to “improve the breed of the collie with a view to the better management of stock.” After World War I, the term, “Border Collie,” was adopted to distinguish the working collie from the show collie.
American trialing began with Philadelphia’s 1880 centennial year celebration. The first U.S. “official” sheepdog trial, however, occurred in 1928 in Bennington, Vermont where 1500 people gathered to watch a competition among seven dogs. Since then, event and attendance numbers have risen dramatically. Over the past twenty years, stockmen and spectators alike have discovered the challenges of the new sport. Across the country hundreds of trials are now held throughout the year including the Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival.
THE BORDER COLLIE
The Border Collie is widely regarded as the most intelligent of all dogs. This is the result of generations of breeding for a variety of qualities including herding instincts. Physical appearance has no strict standard. One will see smooth, medium or rough-coated dogs. Colors are black, black and tan, and reddish-brown, all usually with white markings. Although appearances may differ, the working style of the Border Collie is distinctive. The dog moves with its head low to the ground, its hindquarters high and its tail tucked between its legs. This unique position exhibits the very traits inherited from the Border Collie’s ancestral breeding.
This dog has been bred to gather, not drive, sheep. Hence, it works calmly and swiftly without barking or nipping (Whippet influence), unlike some other herding breeds. The intense gaze or “eye” (pointer/setter influence) wills the sheep to obey. Bred to “clap” or face the sheep head-on with its belly close to the ground, the Border Collie controls by imitating the stance of a predator. The successful dog combines all these characteristics to elicit respect, not fear, from the sheep. With its flock under control, the dog herds with calm precision, lightning quick reflexes, an uncommon intelligence and an innate desire to please. Keep these points in mind as you enjoy the fieldwork of these amazing dogs at the Cedar Livestock & Heritage Festival Stock Dog Competition.