This year’s Metchosin/Swanwick Ranch Sheepdog Trial takes place July 28 to 29 at the Swanwich Ranch. (Spencer Pickles/Black Press)

Sheepdog trial returns to Metchosin

More than 40 handlers and their dogs from across western North America to take part

A long-standing tradition is once again returning to Metchosin this month.

The Metchosin/Swanwick Ranch Sheepdog Trial takes place July 28 to 29 and will bring together more than 40 handlers from across western North America in a competition unlike any other for all ages to enjoy.

“It’s such a unique thing and it’s so unique to watch these dogs,” said Brian Domney, a member of the organizing committee. “It’s a throwback to a different age. I think that’s why families enjoy it so much because it’s something that you can watch that has been around for a long time.”

As part of the event, which is sanctioned by the North American Sheepdog Trial Association, handlers and their dogs (which are typically border collies), gather at the Swanwick Ranch overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca to take on the feisty stock from the Parry Bay Sheep Farm.

At the start of each run, a handler (also known as a shepherd) will stand by the grandstand with their border collie. The dog is then tasked with driving five or six sheep towards its handler without scaring them, all the while navigating a couple of gates and keeping them in a straight and steady line. The dog will then bring them around another series of gates before moving them into a pen.

The competition is known as a true test for both the dog and its handler as the sheep are not “dog broke,” meaning they’re unfamiliar with the drill.

RELATED: Sheepdog Trials return to Metchosin

Sheepdog trials have been around since the mid-1800s with the first known trial taking place in New Zealand, and spreading to Britain and other parts shortly after.

The competition started in Metchosin a number of years ago, and took a brief five-year hiatus before returning last year. And it returned to resounding success. More than 1,000 people attended the two-day event and organizers are anticipating a similar turnout this year as well.

“It’s the two minds working together, it’s not one mind or the dog just listening to whatever the handler wants. It’s a team. The dog knows about what it should be doing to keep the sheep under control,” Domney said. “I just love watching the dogs work. I don’t think there’s a breed in the world that comes close to the innate behaviours of a border collie.”

The Metchosin/Swanwick Ranch Sheepdog Trial takes place July 28 to 29, beginning at 7:30 a.m. and running until roughly 3:30 p.m. There will be a food truck and admission is by donation.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

Metchosin

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

North Saanich man fears tougher moorage policies could cost him his home

Stewart Jackson has been living on a boat off Lillian Hoffar Park for about four years

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

RCMP seek man who allegedly robbed Langford liquor store with a gun

Man described as six to six foot four tall, with slim build and light-coloured skin

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Canadian Premier League announces 2020 home dates for eight-team circuit

Pacific FC hosts FC Edmonton on April 11 in Langford

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

Most Read