Some of the world’s smartest dogs are converging in the Roaring Fork Valley this weekend.
Bridget Strang is hosting three days of sheepdog trails at her family’s ranch in Missouri Heights starting Friday. The event is a warm-up for the 2014 National Sheepdog Trials, which will be held at Strang Ranch in September.
This year’s competition gets underway Friday with the top qualifying competitors and dogs from the U.S. Border Collie Handlers’ Association District 2. The top 16 open dogs from Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming will go head to head in what’s known as a double lift course with a marked shed.
Each dog will bring a packet of sheep to a central place in the field. Then they must go back and get another packet of sheep from a different area on the field and group them together. Next, the dog will be required to bring the sheep to the handler and drive them through a series of gates and into a small marked area that represents the “shed.”
Some of the sheep will have collars and the dog must sort them from the other sheep without leaving the “shedding ring.” When that is completed, the dog must pen the five sheep with collars.
Saturday and Sunday will feature two open trials that will be recognized by the association. The trials will begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue to around 4:30 p.m. each day.
Calvin and Kevin Roberts of New Castle are providing the range ewes for the competition. The judge will be Ellen Skillings, one of the top handlers in the country and a well-respected judge, Strang said.
The event is free and the public is welcome. Strang Ranch is located at 393 County Road 102. Spectators need to bring a chair. There will be a food concession.
The 2014 National Sheepdog Trials will be held at Strang Ranch Sept. 9-16, 2014. The multi-day competition and festival is a unique partnership between the U.S. Border Collie Handlers’ Association, Aspen Valley Land Trust and the Strangs. It will feature first-rate herding competition as well as showcase land conservation, stewardship and the region’s ranching heritage. Strang Ranch also hosted the U.S. National Sheepdog Trials in 2011.
Contact Bridget Strang at email@example.com with questions about the events.