Northern California Working Sheepdog Association presents
Gibson Ranch Park Sheepdog Trial, Elverta, CA
April 28 and 29, 2018
Gibson Ranch County Park will host The Northern California Working Sheepdog Association’s two-day multi-species event on April 28 and 29, with the running of the Gibson Ranch Park Sheepdog Trial. This event features Border Collies doing what they were bred to do—herd sheep. Novice and Experienced shepherds and their dogs will test their skill at tasks that are required on a working sheep farm. The dogs will gather sheep, move sheep through obstacles at the shepherd’s whistles and commands, and put them in a small pen. Border Collie sheepdogs are used the world over to herd sheep, cattle, and other livestock.
Competitors coming from Northern California and Nevada represent all walks of life—veterinarians, small farmers, retirees, and many hobbyists who love working with these talented dogs and enjoy a bit of friendly competition. Many participants will be new or novice trainers who are testing their skills in a friendly setting. The dogs will mostly be border collies, but any breed of herding dog may compete.
“Many of these dogs have such high herding instincts, even as pups, that training them is more a process of giving names to what they naturally want to do than demanding obedience.”, explains Virginia Dains, one of the event’s organizers. “Putting a name on the dog’s natural moves connects me to the dog and a true partnership can develop. Dogs are also taught what behaviors around sheep are inappropriate. Biting will get them disqualified.”
The other four-legged participants are on loan from a contract grazing firm where border collies are an essential part of the daily routine. Virginia explains, “A talented and well-trained dog saves miles a day. The sheep come to trust the dog and will move quietly away without fight or fear. All I have to do is open the gates. Raising sheep is a lot more work and a lot less fun without a good dog.”
The Gibson Ranch Park Sheepdog Trial will run all day on April 28 and 29 at Gibson Ranch Park, off Elverta Road in Elverta. Spectators are welcome. A $5 parking fee is good for the entire day. Other activities at the park include shady picnic grounds, an off-leash dog park, feeding ducks and geese at Gibson Lake, and visiting with horses and other farm animals found around the park. Information about the competition, the handlers, the Northern California Working Sheepdog Association and the dogs will be available during the trial or by calling Virginia Dains 530-888-9180.