Updated: Feb 14, 2019
Herding is alive and well in C. Florida countryside…
We recently had the opportunity to visit the Herding Trial held at Penn Y Caerau Farm in Lady Lake, Florida. The experience was beyond our highest hopes and we met a truly enjoyable, active community of Herding Dog trainers, handlers and owners from all around the state.
sheepdog noun A dog of a breed suitable for guarding and herding sheep. Oxford English Dictionary - Definitions.
The Herding Trials are almost a callback in time to a lost trade or art in many people minds, but it's really not the case at all.
Cows n' Sheep n' Ducks, oh my!
We spent a day and were treated to seeing these Bad Azz Herding dogs in action with both sheep in open field and pen as well as ducks!? Yup, ducks are tricky and temperamental fellows as we witnessed.
American Herding Breed Association (AHBA) est. 1986The AHBA Herding Trial Program allows dogs to demonstrate herding ability in herding trials at started, intermediate, and advanced levels on a standard course and on farm/ranch courses which vary in detail but include specified requirements.
As with many canine competitions, there are separate groups reflecting experience of the team, from novice to expert in all the trials. Most folks know that herding dogs have been bred for their specific traits to work livestock for many generations, the lesser known fact is the number of women participating in this ancient event. Furthermore, they are not all ranchers and the dogs are not all Border Collies.
Today’s competitors came a wide variety of backgrounds from rural to urban office jobs. The dogs were no less diverse. Though dominated by the expected Border Collie, others like Blue Heeler (Cattle Dog), Australian Shepherd, Belgian Malinois to even a Corgi showed who was boss to the days lucky farm animals.
(See the full photo-album of the days event here)
Come-bye and Away…The iconic calls, whistles and phrases used in herding seem like secret code to most laymen, but are as common to herding in Europe, Australia or the USA. Furthermore, the whistles are rarely by lip alone and there are a couple of popular styles. What about that stick? The Shepherds Crook was once used to hook the sheep but today is mostly used to help direct the dogs and herd. Do I have to wear a Flat Hat and Wellington Boots? That’s entirely up to you. I just saw “Babe” and wondered if any pigs compete as herders? No… just no.
How and where to go up country in FloridaWith herding dog trials throughout the year, this skilled activity tests the herding breeds challenges set by American Herding Breed Association (AHBA), American Kennel Club (AKC), and International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) based competition.
The International Sheep Dog Society In 1873 the first recorded sheep dog trials were held in Bala, North Wales, but it was not until some 33 years later that The International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) was formed, following a meeting of English and Scottish sheepmen in 1906. Shortly afterwards the first International Trials were held in Gullane, Scotland and, except during the war years, have continued to be an annual event.
Safety of all involved is priority.From the handler and dog, through the livestock. Dogs may nip at a sheep’s nose or heel if it challenges them, but never the “meat”. If there is any question? The round immediately ends in favor of protecting all the animals.
the good shepherd
Judging is responsibility of the most experienced herders, who have been approved for the task. A notable observation was the good spirits and banter of both the judges and competitors which was just one of the many highlights of this community.
Training for this activity takes commitment and obviously, access to livestock. Fortunately, there are several locations around Florida that offer this for all. With the tiered expectations in trials, there is no end to the rewards participating in the herding trials offers both the owner and especially the dogs, who just have the best day ever.
If you think you may want to grab your own “Crook” and get your Bad Azz Dog out in the country? Why not start now? The cooler seasons are here and there are plenty of cattle, sheep and ducks need gathering.
Want to go to an event?Follow us (@bad azz dogz) on Facebook to see events listed on our events calendar..
You can also watch our pages on Twitter and Instagram (#badazzdogz) where we hope to see you soon.
More Information On Facebook at Herding in Florida group Herding in Florida https://www.facebook.com/groups/891844784163784/
Additionally, we found these locations have regular information and events in Florida: - Central Florida Herding Club http://www.centralfloridaherdingclub.com/ - Black Prong Equestrian Center https://www.blackprong.com - Draxen Farms (Herding Dog Trainers) http://www.draxenfarms.net/
Official Guiding Organizations for Trials: - International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) est. 1906 https://www.isds.org.uk/ - The American Herding Breed Association (AHBA) est. 1986 http://www.ahba-herding.org/ - American Kennel Club (AKC) - Herding Group est. 1983 https://www.akc.org/sports/herding/
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