As the last day of the National Western Stock Show wraps up, many were in attendance for the Stock Dog trials held in the Stadium Arena. Dogs and handlers waited paitently for their chance in the spotlight.
A course is set up in the arena, and using only commands and sometimes a whistle, the handler must give directions to the dog, to get the livestock to complete the correct pattern.
First, the dog has to move the sheep from one end of the arena to the other and around a pole. Then back across the arena around a barrel, where the dog has to demonstrate the ability to sort one sheep off. The sheep must then go though an alley made out of panels, and from there into a pen. Once the gate is shut, the stopwatch stops. Each dog and handler is given five minutes to complete the tasks.
Special breeds of "working dogs" are used in this event, typically Border Collies. While many are here competing today, these are skills that some farmers and ranchers depend on when moving and working herds of sheep and cattle on their farms and ranches. It's not uncommon for a dog to be able to do the work of two to three people, saving time and resources!
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