Ewe-beaut collies display skills

SHEEP fear them, farmers love them.

The top border collies of the state were let loose on the paddocks of the Exeter Showgrounds on Saturday to teach a bit of discipline to their woolly adversaries during the Northern Championships Sheepdog Trials.

And while the name may say these sheepdogs are on trial, this is so serious they think they’re playing for cattle stations.

Exeter Sheepdog Club treasurer Wensley Middleton said the border collies had an extra skip in their step over rival competitors, Australian kelpies and New Zealand huntaways.

‘‘It’s their natural instinct and their temperament – they don’t get hyped up like kelpies,’’ she said.

‘‘They’re usually a lot quieter and gentler dog overall.’’

The best 87 dogs on show over four classes were busy taking three sheep at a time around the peg, through the gap, into the race, over the bridge and into the pen.

It’s enough to make their handlers dizzy and some dogs a bit ditzy.

And others go entirely sheepish.

That’s where the trials separate the workers from the slackers, Mrs Middleton said.

‘‘It depends on the sheep,’’ she said.

‘‘Some of them won’t work for any dog.

‘‘The weather does play a part, too – if it’s really windy or we get a bit of rain, that will affect how the sheep work.

‘‘Some sheep are more easily upset by a dog than others are.’’

The final day of the championships is on Sunday.

Megan Rowles, of Bridgenorth, puts her dog Flash through his paces at the Northern Championships Sheepdog Trials. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON

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