Summit County Fair gets Wild N’ Woolie
August 3, 2010
Have you "herd"? Herding dogs and dog trialers from all over the western United States are coming to Coalville for the first time to compete in a herding dog trial Friday through Sunday, Aug. 6-8.
The Wild N’ Woolie Stock Dog Trial, sponsored by the Summit County Fair Board and the Utah Wool Growers Association, will run in conjunction with the Summit County Fair this year. The trial will showcase top trialers from Utah, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota and California.
Over the course of three days, spectators will get a chance to see more than 50 handlers/dog teams compete against the tough Utah range ewe. In the trialing world, the ultimate test of a trial dog is to run against the western range ewes.
Event organizers will use sheep that are accustomed to running in flocks of a thousand or more and break them down into groups of five. The herders and their dogs must navigate the small groups of sheep around a course of panels and tasks.
The trial is set up so that it replicates jobs that would be required of true working dogs. The handlers will stand at what is called the "handler’s post"; from there, they will send their dog out to the field to round up their designated "flock," which will be set up 400 yards away.
Once the dogs fetch their sheep, they’ll herd them through the "fetch gates," around the handler’s post and through two sets of panels. In a circle marked on the ground, the dog and handler will work together to split one or two sheep off from the group. The sheep will then be regrouped and dog/handler team will work to guide them into a pen and shut the gate.
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At no time is the handler allowed to touch the sheep and the dog is allowed to grip the sheep only if they are charging. The grip must be on the head or the team is disqualified.
The Wild N’ Woolie Stock Dog Trial will feature three levels: the Open Class for top-level dog/handler teams, the Nursery Class for dogs two years and younger, and the Pro-Novice Class for teams with a member (handler or dog) at the pro level and the other at the novice level.
The Wild N’ Woolie Stock Dog Trial is sanctioned by the United States Border Collie Handlers Association (USBCHA). Handlers will be competing for top spots, which will warrant them points toward qualifying for the National Sheepdog Finals that will be held in Carbondale, Colo., in 2011.
Events will be held from 7:30 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. all three days in the fields east of the Summit County rodeo grounds. The cost for spectators is $5 at the gate and parking is available at the rodeo grounds. Bleachers and food will be available.
The Summit County Fair Board is looking for people who would like to sponsor a dog in the trial. Sponsors can invest money on a dog/handler team of choice, which will also help with putting on the trial. In return, the sponsors for the winning teams will receive a portion of the prize money. For details on how to sponsor a team, call Loreli Judd at 640-1082.