Before the trials start, the judge will agree on a scale of maximum points for various phases of the run and will deduct points for any errors made in each section. Methods differ, of course, but a typical judge’s book would divide the course as follows:- Outrun,lift, bring, shedding ring and penning for the competition of single dogs and in the doubles competition shedding will be taken into consideration. This is the interesting operation where six sheep are split into two groups of three and are then put into the two pens which you will see on either side of the ground.
A time limit is then decided upon for the single and double dogs competitions and this is usually 10 minutes for the former and, say, 12 minutes for the later. The timing is done accurately by stopwatch, but you will see on the ground an electrical operating time clock. This gives the spectators an idea of how the time is passing during each run and must not be considered accurate, but we feel that this arrangement does add to the excitement when time is running out and the sheep are not yet penned.
Now for the trial itself. We trust you will easily follow the plan of the course which is included in the trials programme. The competitor must first of all stand at the stake, to which he may even be tethered by a rope around his wrist, as until the time comes to negotiate the maltese cross, he must not give any assistance to the dog but may only control it by whistles or calls. He now proceeds as follows:-
The competitor sends his dog for the sheep which have been released from a pen at the far end of the of the course, some 400 yards away. The dog should be directed in a wide outrun either to the left or right at the discretion of the handler and should receive no command during the outrun. Should the dog stop or require any command during the outrun, points may be deducted. The idea of the wide outrun is that the sheep should not be disturbed until the dog approaches in a straight line behind them for the Lift.
This is when the dog comes up behind the sheep. Maximum points can be earned for a steady approach to the sheep which should not be harassed or panicked so that the Bring may be carried out at a steady pace.
BRING or FETCH
The dog is now asked to bring the sheep in a straight line to the master, negotiating an open gate on the way and, as throughout the course, a good line is essential to earning maximum points.
After bringing the sheep to the shepherd the dog must take them round him, drive them through the obstacle on the left hand side of the course and then directly across the course to negotiate the right hand obstacle. This is though by many experts to be a difficult task, as the normal instinct of the sheepdog is to bring the flock to his master rather than drive them away.
The next obstacle is the shedding ring where the sheep will either be split into two groups, or one sheep separated from the others and held until the judge signals that he is satisfied the dog has done it's job satisfactorily. This requires infinite patience by both dog and handler as if the sheep step outside the marked ring, points will be deducted.next obstacle to be tackled is the cross, which must be negotiated in one direction and requires steadiness by the dog and infinite patience by the handler. At this point the shepherd may leave the stake and assist the dog.
The three sheep must now be penned in one of the small enclosures in front of the stand. The one to be used by all the competitors is decided beforehand. Here both dog and master require the maximum skill and patience, often with little time to spare.
The course for this event is usually very similar to that for the singles. After the maltese cross you will see the dividing of the sheep into two groups of three and each group driven in to a separate pen. When this operation has been completed the dog must guard the sheep by remaining at the entrance to the pen lest they escape.
A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
The Longshaw Singles Championship has a double gather, which means that the dog must fetch three sheep, as in the open class, but when the sheep and the dog have come up the bank, the dog is then given the command to “look back”. The dog must then fetch a second lot of sheep. The competitor stands inside a ring marked out with sawdust and proceeds as follows:-
The competitor sends his dog out to the left for the sheep which have been released from the bottom left hand side of the course.
The dog should approach the sheep quietly so that they move off calmly and on line to the fetch.
The dog should move the sheep onto the fetch line as in the open singles class, then bring them in a straight line up the course, through the gates and towards the handler. When all the sheep and the dog have come up onto the top of the bank, the dog is then asked to look back.
The dog should go out to the right to fetch a second lot of sheep that have been released from the bottom right hand side of the course.
The dog should again move the sheep off quietly and calmly and on to the fetch line.
As in the first fetch, the dog should move the sheep onto the fetch line, bringing them in a straight line through the gates and towards the handler. When the sheep and dog have come up onto the top of the bank, the dog then collects the first lot of sheep and puts them together.
When all the sheep are together the dog must then take them round the competitor and drive them away and through the gates to the left hand side of the course. After going through the gates the dog must turn the sheep round the bottom gate and drive them straight across the course and through the gates on the right hand side of the field. After going through the gates the dog must turn the sheep round the top gate and drive them into the shedding ring.
The sheep must be separated into two groups. The competitor may help the dog with this but when there is a gap between the two groups the competitor will ask his dog to come in between and take one group away from the other. The sheep not needed will be sent off the course.
All the remaining sheep have to be penned in the gated pen.
After penning the sheep, the dog must return them to the shedding ring, where one sheep must be singled out from the rest. The competitor will be told beforehand whether they have to take the first sheep or last sheep, and again the competitor is allowed to help his dog. The dog must come into the gap when called and hold the chosen sheep away from the others until the judge signals that he is satisfied. This completes the championship run.