Stock Dog Trial Programs
There are many organizations available offering different types of stock dog trials. The object of a trial course is to test the dog’s ability to manage livestock properly under different circumstances that may be encountered in everyday work. Trials help us to see where our training is going, where our weaknesses are, and help to motivate the handler/trainer to advance in their training program. The UKC is currently developing a stock dog program.
I have provided a brief summary of some of the stock dog trial programs below. However, the programs are continuously undergoing changes so make sure that you visit each website to keep up to date on course and rule changes!
What Programs are Available?
Canadian Kennel Club
CKC Official Website
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) stock dog trials are fairly new. They were officially accepted into the CKC January 1, 1999, and underwent major changes that became effective January 1, 2006. CKC presently offers 1) arena and ranch type trials that provide titles using sheep, cattle and ducks and 2) a boundary course providing titles using sheep only. The stock type is not recognized in the title earned. They are open to all breeds, but the dogs entering must be CKC registered dogs, or have an ERN (event registration number) or PEN (Performance Event Number). The Herding Tested course is pass/fail and consists of 3 obstacles along fence lines, and the handler may walk through all obstacles. The judge is encouraged to stand in the arena, and to support the handler if necessary. The remaining levels are all competitive, and require 3 qualifying scores under 2 different judges.
The titles earned reflect the course that you have competed under. If you see a dog with the initials HT after their name, they have completed all requirements for Herding Tested. In all of the trial levels, the 'S' refers to "Started", the 'I' refers to Intermediate, and the 'A' refers to "Advanced". If the dog has HS, HI or HA he/she has completed their level in an arena course. SDS, SDI or SDA, indicates that the dog has completed their level in the Stock Dog courses, which is CKC's title for their ranch course. The boundary courses are identified with the letters HTT (Herding Tending Tested), HST, HTI and HAT.
CKC Herding Rules and Regulations are available on-line to any CKC member or you may order a rule book through the CKC. Click here for excerpts from the rule book, which will help you to understand the program; however, please check with the CKC for official rules.
Australian Shepherd Club of America
ASCA Rules & Regulations
Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) trials are very popular. ASCA offers both arena and ranch type trials and have separate titles offered for each type of stock. They offer cattle, sheep and ducks. ASCA also offers a WTCH, which is a Working Trial Champion. This is a dog that has received an advanced title on all three types of stock. All levels require qualifying scores under two judges. Dogs entered do not have to be registered, but must be on the ASCA excepted herding list. Contact ASCA to find out if your breed is eligible.
American Herding Breeds Association
AHBA Rules & Regulations
American Herding Breeds Association (AHBA) trials have been around for a very long time, and are very popular. Their program is a large program offering Herding Ranch Dog titles (HRD), Herding Trial Dog titles (HTD), Arena titles, and test level titles (JHD and HCT). They offer three levels in each of the trial levels, and two test levels for brand new beginners. The test levels allow for the tester to handle the dog during the first leg of their title. The handler/owner should handle his/her own dog for the second leg. The HTD level is held in an open field. The HRD levels include different things like sorting chutes, trailers, bridges, or anything else you may run into working at a ranch/farm. All levels require two qualifying scores under two judges, and dogs do not have to be registered to enter and earn titles.
American Kennel Club
AKC Performance Events
American Kennel Club (AKC) offers several different kinds of trials. They have arena trials (A Course), open field trials (B Course), boundary work trials (C Course), and test levels for boundary and arena trials. They also offer sheep, cattle and ducks. They have two test levels, which both have the judge in the arena with the handler, who is encouraging the handler to make decisions that help them to qualify on the course. The test levels require two passing scores under two judges, while the trial levels require three qualifying scores under three judges. Dogs must be AKC registered, or have an ILP number in order to participate in these trials.
For rules and regulations, refer to the AKC Performance events web page and scroll down to find the 'Herding' Section.
International Stock Dog Society
British Columbia Stock Dog Assn'
International Stock Dog Society (ISDS) trials are commonly known as open field trials. Border collies are frequently seen competing in these trials; however, other breeds do and may compete. They require a minimum 75 yard outrun at the Novice/Novice level which is the beginning point for competitors. Novice/Novice refers to novice dog and novice handler. The next level is Pro-Novice which means either the dog, or the handler is a pro, while the other is a novice. The Pro-Novice level requires a minimum 150 yard outrun, drive, cross-drive and pen. The highest level is Open. This level requires a very long outrun, a minimum of 250 yards, but I've seen up to 800 yards, a drive, cross drive, shed, pen, and a single. These trials are usually run for prizes of money, and no titles are offered. Any dog may enter.
This is where you find all the rules and regulations governing BCSDA trials, which are part of ISDS:British Columbia Stock Dog Assn'.