English National Sheepdog Trials 2007 - Thomas Longton

Thomas Longton running his Border Collie, Lady, at the English National Sheepdog Trials on 16th August 2007.

For those unfamiliar with this sport (and country pursuit for a working Border Collie and handler) it works like this.

The team of dog and handler start at a post at the bottom of the trials field. The sheep are released at the top.
The dog is sent off either left or right to get up behind the sheep - This is called the 'OUTRUN'. The dog should go wide and low so the sheep do not see it approaching, coming up quietly behind them.

The dog starts the sheep moving down the field - this is called the 'LIFT'. It should be done smoothly, without panicking the sheep and causing them to scatter or run.

Having got them moving down the field towards the handler the dog guides them through a 'gate'. This is called the 'FETCH' and should be smooth and in as straight a line as possible.
Having reached the handler the dog should stop and hold the sheep in a ring in front of the post.

The next stage of the trial is called the 'DRIVE'. The handler sends the dog to drive the sheep diagonally across the field to another 'gate' and through then turning, drives the sheep across the width of the field to another 'gate' on the far side, turning again and bringing them back to the ring.
During all these stages the handler should remain at the post, controlling the dog with whistles or verbal commands.

Once back in the ring the dog has to split two sheep off from the rest. These two are marked with collars. This is called the 'SHED'. The handler is allowed to assist and man and dog work as a team. The two sheep that are 'shed' from the others are sent out of the ring while the others should stay in the ring.

Finally we have the 'PEN', where dog and handler work together to get all the sheep into a pen together and the gate shut. At the point the gate shuts the run is over.

Each stage is allocated a maximum number of points and the judges deduct points for faults by the dog or the handler. At the end of the run the remaining points are added up to give the score for the run.

The run is also against the clock and a maximum time is set according to the difficulty of the run. If the time is exceeded before the run is complete the team will loose points on the incomplete sections/s.

Serious faults by either the dog or handler can result in disqualification, however the handler can also 'retire' before the end of the run if it goes badly against them.

At the end of the whole event, the handler and dog with the most points (that is the least faults) is the winner!

That was a simplified explanation of the process.

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