Sheepdogs put to the test at Rural Hill
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Historic Rural Hill went to the dogs last weekend as part of its 17th annual Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival.
More than 100 border collies took part in the event with competitors from as far away as Canada. Dogs spent Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12 and 13, herding sheep among a number of other activities.
“The sport of sheep dog herding started in the early 1800s in Scotland,” event coordinator Dean Holcomb said. “It probably began after two guys in a pub wanted to prove who had the best dog.”
In the competition, the dogs take turns herding small groups of sheep across a 50-acre field, through several gates, then into a holding pen. The pen allowed the sheep to catch their breath, munch some grass, get a drink of water, and prepare for the next round.
Barry Zimmerman from Homer, Ga., was at Rural Hill putting his border collie Storm through its paces.
“I’ve had Storm for 18 years,” Zimmerman said. “A trained border collie is very valuable. I’ve been offered over $8,000 but turned it down.”
According to Historic Rural Hill Executive Director Jeff Fissel, border collies have such a powerful instinct to herd, that they had been known to circle children as if they were lambs.
In addition to the border collie competitors, many of the spectators at the trials also brought their dogs along for the day. Some of the dozens of pets spotted making the scene at Rural Hill ran the gamut from a chihuahua in a leopard-print sweater to Great Danes. Sherry Wood of Charlotte was on hand with her old English sheepdog Piper and her bearded collie Brodie.
Other canine competition at Rural Hill included agility runs and Frisbee catch.
In addition to the four-legged fun, the Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival also included hayrides, the Amazing Maize Maze corn maze, a pumpkin slinging catapult, blacksmithing, and lots of food and drink for both man and beast.