Collie Club of America Regional Herding Competition

By: Janie Nafsinger

Stepping up to the forefront of herding competition and paving new frontiers for the herding world, the Collie Club of America is the first to provide breed specific herding competition outside of the national specialty.

Why Regional Herding? A paramount function of the National Specialty each March is to highlight the best in performance and conformation collies. The unfortunate fact is that the optimum time to strut the best in conformation is not the best time to strut herding talents. While the majority of conformation collies are at the peak of coat for the National Specialty in March, herding collies have been cooling their heels waiting for the passing of snow and ice. Along with the advent of lambing season, herding collies are limited in opportunities to progress and sharpen their herding skills throughout the winter.

In order to provide an additional opportunity, a supplement to national competition and to promote the very essence of the collie, the Working Collie Committee (WCC) proposed and passed through the organizational process three Regional Herding collie only competitions.

Unlike obedience and agility which are offered at most all breed and specialty dog shows, herding is not due to the unique facilities that are required. The criteria for each site has to be similar in nature, allowing for like offerings in courses, stock and number of runs. Each site is an established herding site that does not have to be modified to accommodate the trials as sometimes happens when a non-herding site is contracted for national competition. This established site criteria allows for the best possible circumstances in herding due to the expertise of the site managers and stock familiarity with trialing. Chairman for the trials are volunteers who are active in the herding world and familiar with herding process and procedure. The chairman of each trial, along with their respective committees, chooses the trial date for their site based on availability of facilities and judges, along with considering possible conflicts with other trials.

What has become apparent in the third yearof Regionals is how farthe breedhascome in preserving the innateworking abilitiesof the collie. Both B Course (the open field course) and A Course (an arena course) are offered often in both sheep and ducks. Occasionally cattle are offered, mainly on A Course, at facilities that that are able to have cattle. A High Combined award is offered for the dog that excels in qualifying on both courses with a variety of stock. Entries are up and herders are coming from areas they had not come from before. An added benefit is the local dogs and owners that are introduced to herding in any area a Regional is held.

With the rapid growth in herding interest and participants who are successfully demonstrating the traditional working ability of the collie, both at the novice level and at the highest levels of competition, three Regional Herding competitions are now approved each year. The competitions are set for late fall as a compliment and supplement to the National competition of spring. The Regionals will allow herders to work with their dogs throughout the year, fine tuning skills, and present their dogs in competition when they are at their yearly peak of performance. Additionally, the Regionals will nurture the growing herding trend, providing for the best possible trialing conditions, showcasing the working ability of collies and encouraging participation across the country by having trial venues at closer driving distances. In addition, the Regionals will provide opportunities to herding enthusiasts who often find themselves as the only collie entry at all-breed trials to see what more advanced collies are capable of achieving, fostering mentorships, evaluating the virtues of multiple lines of collies to strengthen their own breeding programs and to test the strengths and weaknesses of their own dogs against others.

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