Variations on these courses are seen in both Great Britain
and North America. The "National" course:
The dog may be directed on either side in the outrun. A straight fetch
of 400 yards from the lift to the handler through a center set of gates
7 yards wide 150 yards from the handler. No retry at the gate is
allowed. The handler must remain at the post from the commencement of
the outrun and at the end of the fetch he will pass the sheep behind him
toward the direction of the first set of drive gates.
The drive may be to eith left or right as decided by the trials
committee prior to the trial. The handler will stand at the post and
direct the dog to drive the sheep 450 yards over a trialgular course
through two sets of gates 7 yards wide. A second attempt at either set
of gates is not allowed. The drive ends when the sheep enter the
shedding ring at which point the handler may leave the post. When the
fetch is less than 400 yards the drive should be lengthened if possible
to maintain a total course length of approximately 850 yards.
The shedding ring shall be 40 yards in diameter. Two unmarked shep shall
be shed within the ring. The dog must be in full control of the two shed
sheep (need not be in the ring) to be considered satisfactory. Upon
completion of hte shed the sheep shall be reunited before continuing to
The pen will be 8 ft. by 9 ft. with a gate 8 ft. wide to which is
secured a rope 6 ft. long. On completion of the shed the handler shall
proceed to the pen leaving the dog to bring the sheep to the pen. The
handler cannot assist the dog in bringing the sheep to the pen. The
handler will stand at the gate holding the rope and must not let go of
the rope while the dog works the sheep into the pen. The handler will
close the gate, after releasing the sheep the handler shall close and
fasten the gate.
The handler will proceed to the shedding ring leaving the dog to bring
the sheep from the pen to the ring. One of the marked sheep will be shed
of within the ring and therafter worn (need not be in the ring) to the
judges satisfaction. Handlers are forbidden from assisting the dog in
driving of the single any distance or by forcing it on the dog.
limit -- 15 minutes Points:
Total -- 110 points
- outrun, 20
- lift, 10
- fetch, 20
- drive, 30
- shed, 10
- pen, 10
- single, 10
One lot of 10 sheep will be set 800 yds. (if possible unseen by dog)
which should be gathered and brought through a gate 9 yds. wide to a
post 20 yds. through the gate. The dog is then redirected for another
lot of sheep which should also be brought through the gate and reunited
with the first group. The trials committee shall decide before the trial
the direction of hte first outrun with the second being to the other
side. No retry is allowed if the gate is missed either time. Both dog
and sheep shall be past the gate and to the post before the dog is
redirected. At the end of the fetch the handler shall pass the sheep
behind him in the direction of the first drive gate.
--The drive shall be 600 yds. and triangular from the handlers post
passing through two gates 9 yds. wide. No retry is allowed at missed
gates. The drive ends when the sheep enter the shedding ring at which
time the handler may leave the post.
--The 15 unmarked sheep are to be shed off within the 40 yd. diameter
ring. In shedding the sheep will be passed between the handler and dog
and the dog brought in to stop and turn back the marked sheep.
Manoevering for 'cuts' is not allowed. Should any marked sheep leave the
shedding ring and join any unmarked sheep already shed off the unmarked
sheep with the marked sheep will be brought back into the shedding ring
and shedding restarted. Until the 15 unmarked sheep have been shed off
pennning is not permitted.
On completion of the shedding the handler will proceed to the pen
leaving the dog to bring the marked sheep. The handler may not assist
the dog in driving the sheep to the pen. The pen will be 8 ft. by 9 ft.
with a 8 ft. gate to which is secured a six ft. rope. The handler must
stand at the gate and hold the rope and may not let go of the rope while
the dog works the sheep into the pen. The handler must close the gate.
After releasing the sheep the handler will close and fasten the gate.
limit -- 30 minutes Points:
Total -- 170 points
- outrun, two
- lift, two
- fetch, two
- pen, 10
Ten sheep will be set in one lot in the center if the feild at a
distance of approximately 800 yds. Both dogs will start at the same
time. Crossing at the completion of the outrun is permissible but dogs
should remain on the sides to which they have crossed and should not
recross. The fetch should be straight through a gate 9 yds. wide in the
center of the field. No retry is allowed if the gate is missed. The dogs
shall remain on their own sides and the handler shall remain at the post
passing the sheep behind him at the end of the fetch toward the first
The handler stands at the post and directs the two dogs to drive the
sheep over a 600 yard triangular course through two sets of gates 9 yds.
wide. No retry is allowed if a gate is missed. Both dogs shall remain on
their own sides. The drive ends when the sheep enter the shedding ring
at which time the hanler may leave the post.
--The sheep will be divided into two equal lots by either dog inside the
shedding ring. One set will be driven off and left in the charge of one
of the dogs.
The other group of sheep will be penned by the other dog in a diamond
shaped pen with an entrance of 5 feet and no gate. This dog will be left
in charge while the other lot are penned in a similar pen approximately
50 yards away by the other dog.
limit -- 25 minutes Points
Total -- 140 points
- outrun -- two
- lift, 20
- etch, 20,
- drive, 30
- shed, 10
- pen, two times
Sheep Dog Society
Guidelines for Judges
The dog must be
positioned close to the handler and may be sent out on either side. He
should not be too straight or too wide and in going out the dog should
not require nor should he receive any commands. Commands given should be
penalized, as indicated later. The command by whistle is to be regarded
as the same as a spoken command.
If a dog crosses
the course, a minimum of 50% of the total points for the outrun is to be
deducted, and, in addition points must be deducted for commands
The perfect outrun
should be completed without any commands and judges should deduct points
for every command given and the loss of points will depend upon the
judge's view of the seriousness of the mistakes. The dog should not stop
and should not cut in. It is obviously more serious if a dog stops on
his outrun than if he goes on after being re-directed, and judges should
A good outrun
should be in the shape of one side of a pear with the blunt end of the
pear at the far end of the field near the sheep. The dog should finish
far enough away from the sheep so as not to disturb them.
Where the outrun
ends will vary with the actual position of the sheep. If the sheep have
left their appointed place at the post the outrun should end at the
point where the dog is facing them in order to bring the sheep in a
direct line to the first obstacle. In effect, this means that if the
sheep have left the post, the dog is to finish his outrun facing the
heads of the sheep. This might necessitate the dog stopping on the side
of his outrun if the sheep happened to be coming to meet him, and
conversely could mean him going a long way past the post if the sheep
were going away from the post in the same direction as he is running.
If the sheep remain
at the post, the outrun will end when the dog is behind them and in line
with his master. He must always finish facing them in order to be in a
position to fetch them direct to the first obstacle.
At the end of the
outrun, whether the dog has come to a full stop or merely slowed down,
his approach should be smooth, cautious and steady and the main feature
of the "lift" is an ability to take control in a firm and quiet manner
without disturbing the sheep. He should not rush in and thus startle the
sheep and he should not lie back and require numerous commands before
getting his sheep on the move.
Judges will deduct
points for excessive commands, slowness, etc. at this phase of the
trial. Apart from these observations, judges must use their personal
knowledge of sheep and sheepdogs to decide whether a lift has disturbed
the sheep unduly and must mark accordingly.
The sheep should be
brought at a steady pace and in a straight line from the place of
lifting to the first obstacle, and thereafeter in a straight line to the
The dog should not
hurry or over-flank his sheep (this means that he should not go too far
on either side thereby turning his sheep across the course and giving
He should require
few, if any, commands, and where the sheep are inclined to stray from
the true line the dog's ability is judged by his control of them and his
immediate answer to all commands.
If the gates are
missed or if the sheep are off-line, the penalty must reflect all the
circumstances, and in particular the amount of fault attributable to the
dog and/or the handler. Both can be the subject of penalties. If the
sheep are docile and mistakes are made, then the penalty should be more
severe than where the sheep are awkward and thereby contribute to
diversions which the dog is unable to avoid.
If a gate is missed
there should be a minimum deduction of a half a point per sheep but
Judges must take into consideration all the relevant circumstances
contributing to the missing of the gate and adjust deductions
The sheep should be
passed behind the handler as close to the post as practical and the
whole work should be done in a steady and smooth manner.
The "Drive" takes
place in a triangular direction and can be run either from left to right
or right to left according to the course and the decision of the Trials
The first leg of
the triangle starts immediately the sheep have passed behind the handler
and the sheep are required to go in a straight line for 150 yards (or
200 yards at the International) to the first set of gates.
Having got the
sheep through the gates they should be turned immediately on to a direct
line across the course to the second set of gates. When through these
gates they should then be turned as neatly as possible on to a straight
line to the shedding ring.
It is important
that the last leg of the triangle should be in a straight line to the
shedding ring which is usually situated to make this also the most
direct line. The dog should show obvious ability to drive steadily
without excessive commands. Reasonable turns at the post and at both
gates are expected.
Good handling in
difficult situations will be taken into consideration by the Judge.
As in the "Fetch",
the gates are guides to the alignment of the sheep.
"Drive" the sheep should be kept moving gently - excessive bursts of
speed and subsequent stopping is not desirable and should be penalised.
If a gate is missed there should be a minimum of half a point per sheep
but Judges must take into consideration all the relevant circumstances
to the missing of a gate and adjust deductions accordingly. The handler
must not leave the post until the sheep are actually in the shedding
necessitates negotiation of the sheep within the ring by the handler and
dog to the best position for effecting the deliberate shed by the dog of
the two specified sheep. Having got the sheep suitably positioned, the
dog should come in and take off the required sheep and once having taken
them off he must have them under control before the "Shed" can be deemed
satisfactory. The important aspect here is to test the dog's ability to
shed or separate the two unmarked sheep from the rest of the flock.
The dog must be in
full control of the two shed sheep, otherwise the "Shed" will not be
deemed satisfactory and should be penalised. The ideal "Shed" occurs
when the dog comes towards the handler when commanded by him; e.g., cuts
off his sheep which are to be shed and holds them away from the rest.
The "Shed" is
complete when the dog has come in when commanded by the handler and is
in control of his two sheep. It is not necessary for the dog to come
right through to the handler.
On completion of
the "Shed" the handler should bring his sheep together in a practical
and workmanlike manner.
There is no rule
about bringing the two sheep to the remaining three or vice-versa. The
"pen" will be 8 ft. x 9 ft. with a gate to which is secured a rope 6 ft.
long. On completion of shedding, the handler must proceed to the "pen"
leaving his dog to bring the sheep to the "pen". The handler is
forbidden to assist the dog to drive the sheep to the pen. The handler
will stand at the gate holding the rope and must not let go of the rope.
It is for the dog only to work the sheep into the pen. The handler will
close the gate. After releasing the sheep, the handler will close and
fasten the gate and shall be penalised for failure to fasten the gate.
All these points
must be marked and each failure to pen shall be the subject of a penalty
The handler will
proceed to the shedding ring leaving the dog to bring the sheep from the
pen to the ring.
One of two marked
sheep will be shed off within the ring and thereafter "worn" (inside or
outside the ring) to the Judges' satisfaction. Handlers are forbidden to
assist the dog in driving off or attempting to drive off the single any
distance or by forcing it on the dog.
If the Judges are
agreed that a dog has not been fairly tested owing to the disposition
and action of the sheep, they may order the handler to collect the sheep
again and shed off and wear any other sheep. As with the "Shed" the dog
and not the handler should come in and cut off the single sheep.
Far too many
handlers are seen cutting off the sheep whilst the dog lies back acting
as an almost disinterested spectator. This should be heavily penalised.
The greatest help the handler can give his dog is by getting out of the
way and allowing his dog room to prove his ability to take off and wear
a single sheep.
It is essential
that the dog should beable to keep the "single" sheep away from the
remainder and the Judges should not express their satisfaction until the
dog has been thoroughly tested and they are satisfied that he has proved
his ability to do this. Here again, the behaviour of the sheep should be
considered by the Judges when deciding whether the "single" has herding
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