North America/Other Countries

By Linda Rorem (Updated by Claudia Frank)

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The United States Border Collie Handlers' Association, Inc.
The trials sanctioned by the USBCHA follow the pattern of the trials of Great Britain's International Sheep Dog Society, the original registry for Border Collies. The USBCHA sanctions Open and Nursery classes for qualifying points/scores that are used in calculating dogs which may enter the National Finals and National Nursery Finals. There are also many non-USBCHA sanctioned trials held along these lines, but some of these may vary according to local organizers. There may be classes for different levels of training; for instance, in Novice classes the handler may accompany the stock throughout the course, while at the higher levels the handler remains in a fixed position until moving to the pen to assist the dog in penning. The higher levels also include "shedding" or separating designated sheep from the group. Specific requirements may vary from trial to trial, as may the name of the class. Titles are not given in connection with these trials. A rule book may be obtained from the USBCHA at Rt. 14A, Crawford, TX 76638. Web site: www.usbcha.com

The Australian Shepherd Club of American Trials Program
This program offers trial classes with three levels, held on three arena courses. The "A" course requires taking stock from a pen, guiding them through obstacles and repenning. The "B" course starts with a small outrun or gather, then the stock are guided through obstacles and penned in a free-standing pen, followed by a repen. The "C" course also begins with a gather, but all the obstacles are off of the fence, whereas on "A" and "B" courses, two of the three obstacles are on the fence. Started Trial Dog (STD), Open Trial Dog (OTD), and Advanced Trial Dog (ATD) can be earned on sheep, cattle and ducks; small initials after the title indicate the type of stock. The Working Trial Championship (WTCh.) is earned when the Advanced title on all three types of stock has been achieved. There is also a Ranch Trial course (RTD) held in a ranch setting, a Post-Advanced class (PATD) held in a large field, and a Ranch Dog (RD) certification earned by a dog being judged on proficiency in its regular work at home. ASCA trials are open to all approved herding breeds.

A rule book may be obtained free of charge by writing ASCA and requesting their "Stockdog Rules." The address is 6091 E. Hwy. 21, Bryan, TX 77803-9652, (409)778-1082. ASCA is a registry for the Australian Shepherd. Approved clubs may apply to hold ASCA events.  ASCA Stockdog Program Rules and Regulations web site: www.asca.org

The American Herding Breed Association
The AHBA program offers three types of trial classes, each with three levels, and also includes a test program. The Herding Trial Dog program, with levels HTD I, II and III, takes place on a standard course with outrun, lift, fetch, wear and/or drive and pen; trials may be held in arenas, although the course is not designed as an arena course and larger fields are preferred. The Herding Ranch Dog program, with levels HRD I, II and III, takes place on ranch/farm courses which vary in detail while including specified requirements. The Herding Trial Arena Dog Program, with levels HTAD I, II and III, takes place in arenas with set minimum and maximum sizes. There are four basic courses to choose from, each of which includes an alternative of either a gather or a take-pen, three obstacles of various types, a drive section at levels II and III, and a sort of varying kinds. The titles require two qualifying scores under two different judges. Progression of difficulty in the trial classes echoes the progression in the training of a versatile herding dog. Titles may be earned on sheep, goats, ducks, geese, turkeys, or cattle, which a small initial after the title indicating the type of stock on which the title was earned. A herding trial championship is earned by obtaining additional qualifying scores after the HTD III or HRD III title is earned. Test levels include the Herding Capability Test (HCT) and the Junior Herding Dog Test (JHD), both of which are run on a pass/fail basis and require two passing runs under different judges. These events are open to all herding breeds and herding breed mixes. Clubs or individuals may apply to hold tests/trials sanctioned by the AHBA.  Web site: www.ahba-herding.org/

The American Kennel Club Test/Trial Program
This program offers Test, Pre-trial and Trial classes. At the test (HT) and pre-trial (PT) levels, titles are earned with two passing runs. At the trial level, three qualifying scores under different judges must be earned for each of the three classes -- Started (HS), Intermediate (HI) and advanced (HX, for Herding Excellent). A herding trial championship (HC) can be earned after completing the Herding Excellent title. The "A" course takes place in an arena and requires working livestock through obstacles and into a pen. The "B" course is a modified Border Collie course requiring an outrun, lift, fetch, wear/drive, pen and, in the advanced class, a shed. The "C" course is meant to reflect herding as done in Europe with large flocks in unfenced areas, although recently the emphasis on the course has been changed to reflect more specifically German trial practices. Ducks, sheep or cattle may be used on certain of the courses. All AKC Herding Group breeds, plus a few additional breeds are eligible.

A rule book may be obtained for $2.00 at the AKC Store or on the AKC web site.  The AKC is a registry. AKC approved clubs can apply to hold sanctioned or licensed Tests/Trials. “The Herdsman” is the AKC Herding Program informational newsletter.  More information about the AKC program.

The Canadian Kennel Club
The Canadian Kennel Club program is an all-breed herding program by which CKC-registered dogs may earn titles. The program provides for arena courses on sheep, ducks and cattle, with a test level and three trial levels. Titles awarded are Herding Tested (HT), Herding Started (HS), Herding Intermediate (HI), and Herding Excellent (HX). Herding Tested is a noncompetitive test and requires two passes under two different judges. The next three levels are competitive and require qualifying scores in three tests under at least two judges. The course design may vary, but will contain specified elements and obstacles. ISDS-type trials, ASCA trials and AHBA trials are also held in Canada. Web site: www.downriver.org/ckcrules.htm.

In addition to the events held by the above organizations, many events are held by local organizations according to local rules. There are also informal events, work days, fun days, as well as organized "herding instinct tests".
Web site: www.herdingontheweb.com/instincts.htm

Herding trials also have long been held in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Great Britain
Trials in Great Britain generally follow the pattern set out by the International Sheep Dog Society.  The trials are held in large fields, with the handler remaining in a fixed location through most of the trial, until the sheep are ready to be penned. At these trials, the dog gathers a small group of sheep set out at a distance, brings the group to the handler, moves them away from the handler and through two sets of panels, then brings them to a small free-standing pen, after which the sheep are taken from the pen for the "shed," or separating designated sheep from the group. ISDS Course Description and Guidelines for Judges

Australia/New Zealand
Trials in Australia follow several patterns. There are yard trials which emphasize working a group of sheep pens and runways moving sorting them utility incorporate work larger field along with the yard. Arena require specified elements but may be set up varying layouts according to location. The home page for the West Australian Working Sheep Dog Association provides trial rules and other herding information. New Zealand at has trials for "heading dogs" which gather the sheep, and "huntaways" which push the sheep away from the handler, barking.

Continental Europe
ISDS-type trials are now being held on the continent of Europe as well, as Border Collies are increasingly being used there. There are also traditional national trials, which reflect common practices involving large groups of sheep which are taken out on a daily basis to graze in unfenced areas, supervised by a shepherd and one or more dogs.

Traditional French herding trials involve the shepherd and dog conducting a flock of 80 and often over 100 sheep over a "cross-country" course meant to reflect situations found in daily work. In French trials, one dog is used and judging criteria primarily relate to accomplishing the tasks in an efficient, calm manner. The shepherd and dog may take various positions relative to the flock, according to circumstances. Thus, the dog may be behind or ahead, on one side of the flock or the other, wherever its presence is needed, remaining as discreet as possible when all goes well. The dog is expected to work with a great deal of initiative, the shepherd only commanding the dog for particular maneuvers. Trials are also held on cattle.

In Germany there are trials held by sheepbreeder's organizations and similar trials held by the German Shepherd breed club, the SV (Schaeferhund Verein). Two dogs are usually used in HGH (Herdengebrauchshund, or Herding Utility Dog) trials -- a "main dog" and an "assistant dog." The HGH trials emphasize boundary work -- the dog patrolling along a field edge or furrow to contain the sheep as they graze, needed in a situation where the large flocks being taken out for daily grazing were being moved through fairly populated and cultivated areas where sheep could not be allowed to trespass. In practical day-to-day work, however, herding dogs in Germany often work similarly to farm and ranch dogs of other countries.

Some trials have been held in Spain for the Catalonian Sheepdog (Gos d'Atura), on the order of British trials. There were a few trials in Belgium at the turn of the century, similar to the French trials, but these were not continued.

Page Updated 12/18/2010

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The Border Collie Society of America, Inc. was founded in April 1993.  This site is owned by the Border Collie Society of America, Inc. and was established 12.94.