Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bluegrass Classic Stockdog Trials

The Bluegrass Classic (Click here)

The next two pictures are views left and right from the tent we sat under. If you scroll click on the first picture the pole way way out there may show up better, to give you an idea of the distance the dogs had to go to fetch the sheep. There is a pole out there with three sheep, a horseman and a stock dog. They are waiting for the next dog up to come get the sheep and move them down the field through a 'gate' toward the handler, who would be standing at the pole. The second picture shows a handler (in a cowboy hat) that has already gotten his dog to bring the sheep to him. Then they tell the dogs to take the sheep through a couple more gates and bring them back to the circular area marked with sawdust piles. When they have gotten that done the sheep need to stay in that circle while the handler and dog work together to shed one sheep. When working on the farm, the handler may need to have a certain sheep separated from the rest. This is called shedding a sheep. So they do that here in the competition as well. It takes much cooperation with dog and handler to get it done. They make it look easy, but I am sure it is quite difficult. Each competitor has twelve minutes to run the course.

My daughter caught a good example of a shedding of a sheep. Two sheep go that way, one sheep goes this way. Good dog.

A handler giving her dog whistle instructions 500 yards away.
The majority of the handlers used special hand held whistles. Some, like this gal, just did it the old fashioned way.
The handler can not move away from that pole until the dog has gotten the three sheep into the sawdust circle. Then they can leave the pole to start with the shedding.

When a handler tells the dog to LIE DOWN!, it does. Flat as it can get as shown below.

A handler and her dog fixin' to shed some sheep.
I believe the announcer said she was one of the top handlers in the U.S.

See the Woolrich pen behind the dog? After shedding, they put the sheep in that pen to finish their run.

More shedding preparations. This can take a bit of time.

This is a closer picture of where the dogs go to fetch the sheep.There are two dark spots to the left of the sheep. The little dark spot is a dog that has probably been told to LIE DOWN and he his just holding the sheep there for his fellow canine, the big dark spot, to take over.

The trailers are where they keep the sheep to use. Each dog gets a new batch of sheep. The first two days of the competition, the sheep had never seen a dog, so it was more of a challenge for the dog. The next two days, they ran all of the sheep over again.....thus being the second time they had seen a dog.
We were so happy to be able to attend Thurs. Fri. & Sat.

Hopefully, next time we can stay for the Sunday course too.

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