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Saturday, May 14, 2011

66. Sheep Dog Trials at Cottonwood Ranch

We were excited to find out about this unique opportunity right in our own backyard--The Sheep Dog Trials at Cottonwood Ranch.  They have to truck the sheep in from somewhere else so the dogs can have sheep to round-up.  We watched for a while and only saw one dog manage to get the sheep in the pen.  We did not see all the dogs, so I do not know what they were like the rest of the day.   What a fun day!  It was a little bit cold and windy, but you cannot count on the weather in Kansas.

Eric did some research on the rules and scoring for Sheep Dog trials, who knew how involved it is.  It even scores the handlers on how they whistle the commands to the dogs...go figure.  Here's what he found from an outside website, it is missing all the scoring information 'cause it's pretty detailed.  However, if you do a search for "scoring sheep dog trials" you can discover for yourself...

  • The number of sheep used, the number of shed sheep or the course pattern may change during the event.  The handler must adjust to these changes as well as other variables such as the weather, sheep temperament and condition, terrain, altitude and time of day.  
  • All dogs are required to perform the same work on the same course under the same scoring rules. The initial work, the outfield work, tests the dog’s natural ability to locate, establish control over and move the sheep calmly and quietly.  The second phase of work, the infield work, tests the dog’s training and the team’s effectiveness.   Elimination, semi-final and final runs have allocated time limits determined by the judge.

Cottonwood Ranch is a beautiful location all by itself.  It has a history as a sheep farm which led to the current sheep trials to help preserve some of its history.  The site became listed with the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  We were saddened to learn they recently lost their state funding, but the "Friends of the Cottonwood Ranch" have worked hard to make it still available to the public.  The ranch house is now open for tours Thursday-Saturday 9am-noon and 1-5pm May thru September. 
While the sheep trials were going on, inside the ranch house was very busy.  It was furnished and open for tours.  The fire was lit which made it nice and cozy inside.  There were artisans displaying their work, as well as a woman giving demonstrations on a spinning wheel.  Our son enjoyed watching the dogs run the sheep  dog trials.  He kept laughing at the silly sheep.  Our daughter preferred the activity inside the ranch house.  They had it set up that kids could create their own gourd art.  That was her favorite part of the day.

The kiddos thought the dogs looked like our cousin's dogs
Angel laughed any time someone asked her where we were going this week and she could say, "Studley."

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