Utah's First International Sheepdog Trial This Weekend

Utah's First International Sheepdog Trial This Weekend

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John Hollenhorst ReportingThe Soldier Hollow Olympic facility is about to become the venue for another International competition, this one unlike anything Utah has seen before.

The competitors are people. . .and dogs, some very talented dogs.

Nan is a sheep dog extraordinaire. Nan's fun for the day is a flock of sheep.

Nan's job is going after the sheep, to make them move without getting them upset. Her handler, Karen's job is to guide the action with about ten different whistle commands, plus a few verbals.

Nan is a competitive sheep dog, which means of course, she's a Border Collie.

Karen Stanley, Sheepdog Handler: "They've been bred for hundreds of years to gather sheep, and to work with a handler to work as a team."

Sheep dog trials are run on a huge pattern stretching over 400 yards. The team is judged on how well the dog circles the sheep, moves them to the handler and pushes them through a series of gates.

Karen Stanley: "The dog actually understands the sheep more so than the person does. They are communicating with the sheep."

Well-trained border collies sometimes sell for thousands of dollars a piece. And it's not necessarily for competition, it's to go to work on a ranch.

Mark Petersen, Soldier Hollow Classic: “Each element of the trial is some element that a shepherd uses every day with his dog and his sheep.”

Mark Petersen has dreamed for years of putting on an International Sheep dog Trial. Now he's organized Utah's first, the Soldier Hollow Classic, with forty-five of the world's best dogs and some challenging sheep.

Mark Petersen, Soldier Hollow Classic: "Wild range sheep, these are sheep that have never been around man or dog. They're essentially wild animals, and doing it in a way that it looks almost easy."

Nan will be in the action too, the local favorite, competing with dogs from as far away as Scotland.

The Soldier Hollow Classic will run Friday through Monday of Labor Day weekend in Heber City.

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