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Top Picks | Sheep Dog Herding Trials

Something New to Do | The Best Sheep Dog Herding Trials


Sheep Dog Trials are probably one of the least known great summer events. We are all familiar with State Fairs and Harvest Festivals, but if you have never been to a sheep dog herding trial, they are lots of fun. Spectators can enjoy watching the best dogs and handlers show off their amazing skills, while enjoying the accompanying food and events.

Wild N Woolie Sheep Dog Trial, Coalville, Utah

This is a three day event, which is held in conjunction with the Summit County Fair. These Sheep Dog Trials are sanctioned by the United States Border Collie Handlers Association. Friday and Saturday of the event have two one-day open trials, then on Sunday there are two runs of pro-novice and nursery. Nursery Trials are limited to herding dogs under three years old. Spectators can also watch the demolition derby and Fireworks on Saturday night.

Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials, Hotchkiss, Colorado

Held in May, this three day event is full of fun activities on top of the herding trials. The trials start at 7am and continue throughout the day, increasing in difficulty as the day progresses. There is also an art contest held in conjunction with the sheep dog trials. In addition to the trials there are camp wagon contests, great food, sheep to shawl demonstrations which include carding, spinning and weaving, and sheep shearing demonstrations.

Merck Forest Sheep Dog Trials, Rupert, Vermont
These sheep dog trials and farm festival are held in July. The dogs and their handlers work together to herd flocks of sheep. They demonstrate how they can move the flock from pasture to pasture, separate one sheep from the flock and herding the flock into pens and barns. The dogs follow the commands of their handler and they are awarded points based on skills. This event also has sheep shearing, draft horse demonstrations, maple syrup demonstrations, children's activities and wagon rides.

Leatherstocking Sheepdog Trials, Cooperstown, New York

This is a very competitive trial for handlers and it attracts many spectators. Handlers travel from around Canada and New England to compete in these trials in August. There are also vendors, that sell plenty of interesting items. These trials have a challenging field, the open course has a long slope. All herding breeds are welcome at these sheep dog trials.

Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

The Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge is held in September and is a three day event. These trials showcase some of the top border collies in the nation. Trials such as these demonstrate how handlers use only their voice and whistles to direct their dogs to guide the sheep through obstacles. The trials also showcase the incredible teamwork and relationship between the dogs and their handlers.

National Sheepdog Finals, Middletown, Virginia

The 2010 finals are held in September at Belle Grove Plantation. The finals bring together the best dog and handler teams from across the nation. Over the six days of trials, North America's top 150 dogs compete for the title of National Champion. The National Sheepdog Finals also have Nursery competitions for dogs under three years.

Meeker Sheepdog Trials, Meeker, Colorado
Every year the town of Meeker holds the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials over Labor Day weekend in September. At the annual international competition, sheepdogs and their handlers compete on a closed course, performing complex sheepherding maneuvers. The sheepdogs and handlers are competing for a $20,000 purse. Visitors will also have the opportunity to enjoy the art contest, food booths and dog exhibitions.

Rural Hill Sheep Dog Trials, Huntsville, North Carolina

These trials held in November, are United States Border Collie Handlers Association sanctioned. More than 100 dogs compete in these trails. The trial tasks are based on the daily tasks the dogs have to compete on the farm. Points are awarded to teams based on the precision demonstrated and completed within the allowed time interval. These trials are open to any breed of herding dog, but in the past only border collies have been present. Visitors to these trials can also enjoy hayride tours, battle axe throwing and children's activities.

Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Trials, Heber, Utah

The Soldier Hollow Classic is held over Labor Day each year. Last year over 24,600 people attended the trials. Over the four days of these trials dogs and handlers from around the world compete and spectators can watch some of the best dog and handler teams in the world. There are also other events at these trials including entertainment, food and Police K-9 team demonstrations.

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