2009 International Sheepdog Trials to be held in Cumbria UK
The International Sheepdog Trials for 2009 will be held in Lowther Castle, Penrith, Cumbria, UK between the 11th - 13th September 2009.
This is great news for Penrith as the Lowther Driving Trials and Country Fair has been cancelled this year due to the dreadful wet weather recently and there is no time to get the ground dried out enough to withstand the damage so many visitors, vehicles and horses hooves would cause.
The Trials can be a real family day out or weekend away (as the Trials are a 3 day event) with the backdrop to the Trials being the magnificent Lowther Castle which is now unfortunately bare walls but still a fabulous castle to visit.
Lowther Castle is surrounded by unspoilt parkland and houses the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre in the walled garden. Weather permitting selected birds are flown three times a day and I have been lucky enough to have an eagle land on my hand there (you wouldn’t believe how heavy they are).
Visit “a great place to see” website for other ideas of things to see and do in and around Penrith, Cumbria.
Cumbria is littered with Hill Farms, where sheep herding by dog has been used for centuries due to the largely unfenced areas the sheep graze on.
The first recorded sheepdog trials in the UK were held in 1873 in Bala, Wales but sheep farmers all over the UK have used this form of competition to show off their dog’s skills for centuries.
Cumbria is situated on the Border of England and Scotland and gives the Border Collie dog it’s breed name. Border Collies are the worlds most well known breed of working sheepdog and are often called the wisest dogs in the world.
Open trials are held throughout the year where handlers gain points toward entry into the National trials.
In order to be eligible to enter a National Sheepdog trial the dog must be registered in the ISDS International Sheep Dog Society Stud Book before the 1st of June in the year of the Trial the handler wants the dog to enter.
The International Sheepdog Trials see the fifteen highest placed competitors from the National Trials (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) compete for the grand prize of … Supreme Champion.
Don’t be confused by the name “International Sheepdog Trials”, the International Trials are only held within the United Kingdom but dogs can compete in World Trials which include countries outside the UK and are now held every three years.
For the first two days of the International Trials the course is run in the same form as the National Trials, a 400 yard course with five sheep competing in a series of tests.
On the third day of the International Trials they up the stakes for the highest placed fifteen competitors from the previous days. The course is lengthened to about 800 yards and the dog must guide twenty sheep around the course.
The Trials are not for the faint hearted, the tests are not about dogs doing tricks but are designed to show the abilities of a well trained working sheepdog and their handler. Communication between handler and dog comes in the form of whistles, words (often in long forgotten dialects) and actions.
The competition is fierce and handlers will usually prepare all year for the Trials. It may not be the most exciting day out for a townie but for country folk and farmers standing in the pouring rain watching an old fella working his dog is magical, there are times I wonder whether a degree of telepathy is involved.
The International Sheepdog Trials will follow:
Irish National Sheep Dog Trials 30th July - 1st August 2009 at Burncourt, Cahir, Co. Tipperary
Scottish National Trials 6th - 8th August 2009 at Cocklicks Farm, Cummertrees, Annan, Dumfriesshire
Welsh National Trials 13th - 15th August 2009 at Llanafan Farm, Llanafan Fawr, nr. Builth Wells
English National Trials 21st - 23rd August 2009 at Castle Hill Estate, Filleigh, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 0RH
Cumbria is well equipped for tourism so we can offer places to stay from luxury hotels to camping sites and hostels. Here’s how to find the best places to stay in the Lake District to suit any budget.