Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials in Meeker, Colorado

Note:  The Meeker Classic is being held this week; in celebration of this event I am re-posting this story.  New followers may have missed this post which first appeared on my blog in March, 2011.   Because readers have responded favorably to my photos, I am including additional photos with this post.        

         If you enjoy watching herding dogs at work you’ll want to travel to Meeker Colorado for the Meeker Classic—a sheepdog trial event with competitors from throughout the United States and Canada.  The look of concentration in a border collie’s eyes as it brings a flock of sheep to the pen is a sight to behold.  
A border collie, focusing intently on the task at hand.
Here’s how the action unfolds:
Picture an extra-large baseball field.  In the outfield are two cowboys on horseback.  They keep the sheep there until the dogs run to get them. The sheepdog handler stands at a post that represents home plate.  He sends his dog out to the edge of the field—deep to the wall in center field—to collect a group of five sheep and bring them back through a gate at second base then around behind the handler and through a gate at third base, across the field again and through a gate at first base, and finally back to the infield where the dog encircles the sheep, then tries to herd them into a pen near the third base dugout.  All of this is to be accomplished in 12 minutes and many times the dogs fall short of their goal. 
         After a trial is over a trained border collie runs onto the course and collects the sheep to be loaded into a trailer and taken back to the edge of the field.  Many different groups of sheep are used and several outfits of cowboys patrol the field.
A handler calls to her dog.
         During the lunch break at last year’s event a behavioral geneticist spoke about his research to determine why border collies are driven to engage in herding behavior, and the implications this may have for understanding human mental illnesses.   
Several other attractions are offered at The Meeker Classic: the Mason’s Pancake Breakfast provides hearty morning fare, and other food vendors are open throughout the day; the art barn showcases original paintings of sheep herding—all for sale via silent auction; a craft tent filled with artisan offerings provides a break from the herding action; a border collie rescue group hosts a stand at the event and several border collie organizations are there as well, selling all-things border collie.  
The Meeker Classic is an entertaining event; it’s not too crowded, seating is plentiful and the spectator is close to the action and to the dogs. 
This year’s event will be held September 7-11.  The sheepdog trials field is located just west of the town of Meeker on Colorado Highway 13.
Won’t be able to make it to Meeker this year?  For more information and to plan a trip for next year go to this website:

Handler Richard instructs his dog "Paddy".
Richard has been training dogs for 70 years
and has been a participant in the Meeker Classic
for 20 years.

Richard (center) and "Paddy" take a break 
after participating in the trials.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, can't resist:

    "That'll do, Paddy. That'll do." ;- ))