Border collie sheep dog Sylvie approaches a flock of sheep as she works with her owner Martha McHardy in preparation for the Metchosin Sheep Dog Trials taking place this weekend (July 21 and 22).

Border collie sheep dog Sylvie approaches a flock of sheep as she works with her owner Martha McHardy in preparation for the Metchosin Sheep Dog Trials taking place this weekend (July 21 and 22).

Sheep dog trials take place in Metchosin this weekend

Event will feature some of the top skilled dogs and handlers from B.C. and Saskatchewan as well as Washington and Oregon in the U.S.

The 20th annual Metchosin Sheep Dog Trials are taking place this weekend, July 21 and 22, at the farmland at Taylor and William Head roads.

Martha McHardy is organizing the event, which will feature some of the top skilled dogs and handlers from B.C. and Saskatchewan as well as Washington and Oregon in the U.S.

McHardy has worked with sheep dogs for about 20 years and has trained and competed with five generations of dogs. She will be competing with three young dogs this weekend (Ken, Rick and Sylvie), as well as organizing the event.

The first trials started in Metchosin when McHardy and other local sheep dog handlers wanted to host an event so they could learn techniques from experts taking part.

With an excellent flock of sheep available, and some truly picturesque farmland to hold the trials on, McHardy figured Metchosin is a perfect venue.

It may look smooth and easy to spectators but when a handler is working with a dog to herd sheep there are many things going on at once. The dog is listening to the handler for instructions, but is also reading the sheep to predict what they will do and using its own intelligence to work with them. The handler knows generally what the dog needs to do but must also trust it to use its own sense to guide the sheep.

“When you watch a good team work and the magic between them and their ability to control sheep and make it look easy, the better the run the easier and smoother it will look,” McHardy said. “When you see the subtlety and skill of a really good dog with a really good handler, it’s a real joy to watch it.”

The best working border collies come from long lines of top quality working dogs. Their intelligence in dealing with the sheep comes from instinct passed down through generations. At times, trainers must work against that instinct, such as when training the dogs to drive sheep away from the handler, rather than towards them. But it is that natural ability that makes a great sheepdog.

“We select them to be very astute and observant and responsive, and to have a strong desire within their genetics to want to please you and work with you,” McHardy said. “True there’s training and learning, but there’s no trainer that could substitute for a lack of genetic aptitude in the dog.”

Karen Child of Oregon, another international sheep dog competitor, will be judging the competition. Dogs and handlers start with 100 points on a run and are then docked points throughout for technical errors or imperfect control by the dog. Should the dog nip at a sheep with its teeth the dog is automatically disqualified.

Admission to the trials is by donation. Trials take place from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., both days, but the more interesting runs for spectators will take place generally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will be a raffle and a poster for sale by local artist Kay Lovett. Awards will be presented both days and overall awards on Sunday afternoon.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

The price of gas is way up in many parts of Greater Victoria after a Monday afternoon surge sent it to 162.9 cents per litre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gas prices surge to 162.9 cents a litre at some Greater Victoria stations

Prices jumped up more than 10 cents Monday afternoon

Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin, featuring an award-winning home on 67 acres of property overlooking the ocean, recently sold for a record-setting, yet undisclosed amount. (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada photo)
Sale of oceanfront property in Metchosin yields new record for Greater Victoria

Listed at $14.1 million, Swanwick Ranch sold to an undisclosed buyer

The number of skilled trades workers available is not enough to fill the current construction boom in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Influx of skilled tradespeople falling behind Greater Victoria construction boom

Thousands of positions will be needed by 2030, despite flow of Camosun trades students

Research into the city of Victoria’s economic recovery through the pandemic shows things to be moving in the right direction. (Photo courtesy City of Victoria)
Data shows Victoria experiencing gradual economic recovery

Statistics for early 2021 show promising returns as Victoria 3.0 begins to take hold

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read