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Sheep Dog Trials

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 dogs.

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 refreshments available.


Roz Edwards on the fetch part of her run with Meg (out of photo)

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 left-hand drive.

Bob Powell penning his sheep with Rob

Once 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 them.

Winter Nursery 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.

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