Have you “herd”? Herding dogs and their handlers from all over the Western United States and Canada are coming once again to the Summit County Fair on Thursday thru Saturday August 4-6. The Wild n Woolie Sheepdog trial, sponsored by the Summit County Fairboard will run in conjunction with the Summit County Fair. The trial will showcase top handler/dog teams from Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota as well as Saskatchewan, Canada.
Over the three days spectators will get a chance to see more than 90 handlers/dog teams compete against the tough Utah range sheep. In the trialing world, the ultimate test of a trial dog is to run against the western range ewe. The sheep used at the Wild n Woolie come from the flock of Clare Halterman and live on the Mountains above Coalville. These are sheep that are accustomed to running in flocks of a thousand or more. At the trial we break them into groups of five. The handlers and their dogs must then navigate the small groups of sheep around a course of panels and tasks.
The trial is set up so that it replicates jobs that would be required of true working dogs. The handlers will stand at what is called the post. The contest begins with an outrun. This is when the border collie casts out thru about 300 yards of the field to pick up the group of sheep. He then fetches the sheep thru fetch panels and back to the handler. Around the post they go and into what is called the drive. The sheep are driven away from the handler and thru the drive away panels, turned and driven across the field to a drive away panel, then to a circle. In the circle the sheep are settled and then split and the dog must hold two sheep away from the other group of sheep. This is called the shed. Then the border collie gathers the sheep and puts them in a pen. Each team begins with 100 points and the judge takes away points for each mistake the team makes, such as not approaching the sheep in the correct manner, taking the sheep offline, etc. The teams work together with voice commands and whistles.
At no time is the handler allowed to touch the sheep and the dog is allowed to grip the sheep only if they are charging. The grip must be on the head or the team is disqualified.
The Wild n Woolie Sheepdog Trial will feature three levels; the Open Class for top level dog/handler teams, the nursery for dogs two years and younger, and Pro-Novice Class for teams with a member (handler or dog) at the pro level and the other at the novice level.
The Wild n Woolie Sheepdog Trial is sanctioned by the United States Border Collie Handlers Association (USBCHA). Handlers will be competing for top spots which will warrant them points toward qualifying for the National Sheepdog Finals that will be held in Kalamath Falls, Oregon, in 2012.
Events will be held from 7:00 am until about 5 pm all three days. Open class will be held on Thursday and Saturday. Pro Novice and Nursery classes will be held on Friday. Parking is at the Rodeo grounds , 202 East Park Road, Coalville. Entry will be the foot bridge. The cost for spectators is $5 at the gate. It is advisable to bring a chair and shade. Thursday will be Senior day. All Seniors get in free.