Sheepdogs scamper during Hotchkiss trials
HOTCHKISS — Dozens of border collies and their handlers were tested in timed competition Saturday during the eighth annual Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials in Hotchkiss.
Handlers had 10 minutes each to command their dogs to steer a small flock of sheep through obstacles and into a small pen.
The two-day competition, which concludes this afternoon, continues to draw competitors from across the nation, according to event founder and Crawford resident Richard Bailey.
“What we have here is like in rodeo and their fans. Whether you have four head or 100 head of sheep, one trained dog can do the work better that three to four men can do,” Bailey said.
Bailey and Colorado Springs competitor Lise Andersen credited the use of high-quality, yearling ewes for the event’s popularity. The young sheep have little experience with dogs, and their unpredictability is highly sought by competitors, according to Andersen.
Andersen, who attended the Hotchkiss trials the past six years, is working with her 5-year-old collie Mack to gain qualifying points for the national trials later this year.
The National Sheepdog Finals will be held in Carbondale in September and will feature the top 225 qualifying dog and handler teams from the U.S. and Canada.
The Hotchkiss event also features demonstrations in wool spinning, weaving and sheep shearing.
Bailey said the land provided for the event is donated each year by a Hotchkiss family. The sheep are donated by Hotchkiss-area resident Larry Allen.