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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kierry Bui. The family says they are relieved the trial process has come to close Monday morning with Tenessa Nikirk found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sentencing begins for Peninsula woman convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
High-risk parolee with history of bank robbery believed to be in Victoria

Police ask for public’s help locating 64-year-old parolee

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest suspect in Saanich liquor store break and enters

Windowpane removal key component in string of thefts

Nicole Abbott and her 10-month-old daughter, Ophelia, shown here at the Metchosin Fire Hall for the Halloween events last year. Residents are invited to a drive-through version this year. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore fire halls take pandemic-safe approach to Halloween

One spooky lane among three drive-thru features by firefighters

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

A view from the deck of a home in SookePoint. The property is a prize in the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery. Tickets are on sale now. (Contributed photo)
Millionaire Lottery home up for grabs in Sooke

Sooke prize home part of latest VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at Vancouver Island location

HMCS Quadra is serving as the winter training base for the Canadian… Continue reading

Most Read