As part of the Surrey
Sheep Dog Society trials calendar, we hold an open sheep dog
trial every year, here on the farm. We hold a trial or working sheep
dog demos as part of the Shabden Farm Picnic, which is spectator-friendly.
Visitors are encouraged to picnic while watching the dog trial,
and to talk to the shepherds and dog handlers on the day. In the
winter, we host a few Nursery trials during the season, for young
Typically, around 60 dogs run in one of Shabden sheep dog trials
and the event lasts all day. Spectators are welcome, admission is
free, but we ask that you support the raffle and there are usually
The Trial Course
The course is set out according to standards set by the International
Sheep Dog Society. First the dog must run out to behind the sheep,
who have been shepherded to a start point at the far end of the
course. The handler can send the dog out to the left or to the
right, and points are scored for the path the dog takes on the
outrun. The dog must then pick up the sheep (the lift) and fetch
them to the handler, through one set of gates, in as straight
a line as possible. Once near the handler, the dog is commanded
to drive the sheep around the post at which the handler is standing,
and out to the first set of drive gates. The trial judge will
specify at the beginning of a trial whether this is to be to the
handlers' right or left, and this is known as a right-hand or
through the first set of gates, the dog must turn the sheep and
drive them across the width of the course to the drive gates opposite,
turn them again and drive them back towards the handler. The whole
of the drive forms a triangle. When the sheep are within the shedding
area just in front of the handlers' post, the handler may leave
the post to perform the shed. This is where (typically) two sheep
are shed off the group. The handler must call the dog through a
gap they have created in the group and the dog must maintain control
over those sheep which have been shed. Points are scored for completing
this task within the shedding ring and for not letting any sheep
out of the ring in the process. The group is then brought back together
for the pen. The handler opens the gate of the pen and commands
the dog to quietly push the sheep into the pen. Closing the gate
on the penned sheep signals the end of a successful run.
Sheep dog handlers are friendly and
willing to talk to visitors about the trial, but before their run,
most handlers like to have a quiet moment away from the field with
their dog. Please don't approach a handler if it looks like they
are preparing for their run.
Please remember to keep your own dogs on leads and not
to approach handlers' dogs without permission.
For sheep dog trials dates and information throughout the South
East, visit South
East England Sheepdog Societies
Open and Novice Sheep Dog Trials See
our Events Calendar for dates
An Open sheep dog trial, with Novice class. Run to International
Sheep Dog Society standards and similar rules.
Surrey Sheep Dog Society Championship
Trial Last weekend in September
Two-day Open trial, with the top two from each day then competing
on Sunday evening in a Double Gather trial for the Surrey Championship.
A double gather involves two packets of sheep in different locations.
The handler must fetch one packet, then send their dog back for
the second packet before taking them around the course. They must
then shed half the sheep (usually the ones with collars) and pen
Trials: check Surrey Sheep Dog Society website or our Events
Calendar for dates
The winter nursery trials take place on a smaller scale course,
with fewer dogs running, and are open to dogs who have not previously
been placed in an Open trial.
You will need to bring your own refreshments.