The Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials — one of the Rocky Mountain’s great rural celebrations — begins on September 8th, as wild-range sheep come down from the mountains to encounter their first truly avid sheepdogs. Each day of the Meeker Classic centers on the remarkable three-way interaction between handler (shepherd), dog, and sheep — a tight interplay (ballet?) that would fascinate any student of animal behavior. Maybe that’s why we feel a pang of regret whenever we miss going to Meeker in September.
Avoid that pang, and make your plans by visiting the Meeker Classic website!
If the scheduling isn’t quite right, or Meeker is too far, fortunately sheepdog trials are held across the globe, especially in those traditional hill farm regions where sheep roam unfenced (United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Canada, and the USA).
West of Meeker, there’s the Soldier Hollow Classic in Heber, Utah. Enjoy this Heber clip, but be warned: you might get hooked!
In Meeker, Heber, or across the globe, there’s a great joy in watching an animal so smart, so capable, so intent.
Of course, competitive sheepdog trials draw their inspiration from the gritty day-to-day work of sheep farms, and the age-old relationship between shepherd, dog, and sheep. David Kennard, a shepherd from England’s North Devon Coast, has provided a few excellent volumes to the Land Library’s expanding collection on herding dogs and sheep:
Three by David Kennard: The Dogs of Windcutter Down: One Shepherd’s Struggle for Survival, The Year of the Working Sheepdog (watch the dogs in action in this fun DVD), A Shepherd’s Watch.