Do you know what sheep dog trials are?

RAPID CITY, S.D – It was All American Sheep Day at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo on Monday, January 30! As part of it, there were sheep dog trials going on all day.

What are sheep dog trials?

Basically, sheep dog trials are a way to test the abilities of a sheep dog and its handler. They’re timed events with a five-minute limit. The handler and dog start in a circle painted in the dirt. Time starts when the last sheep is out, the gate is closed, and the dog can leave the circle.

A day at the sheep dog trials

The sheep then need to be herded around the handler and then around a barrel. Once the sheep have gone around the barrel, the handler can leave the circle to help herd. After that, the sheep then need to cross a bridge and then be led back to the pen. Once the gate to the pen is closed, the time is stopped.

What makes a good sheep dog?

In a word, obedience.

“It’s a lot of obedience that goes into a sheep dog competition,” said Kaylee Heiser, an intern for the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo. Sheep dogs have a natural instinct to herd animals.

Of the different breeds, Border Collies are by far the most popular. “The Border Collie, which you’re seeing here today almost exclusively black is a gathering dog,” said Thomas Conger, a rancher and sheep trial hobbyist.

Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork

In order to get the sheep where they need to be, handlers need to think fast so that they can always be one step ahead of the livestock and the dog. “This game is prevention rather than cure,” said Conger.

The dog and handler with the fastest time will win $5,000 (and probably some treats)!

Categories: Local News, Stock Show and Rodeo