A Day in the Virginia Countryside – Part Two
As much as we enjoyed the sheep, llamas, alpacas, and goats at the Fall Fiber Festival, our real reason for traveling to Orange was the Montpelier Sheep Dog Trials. We had our first taste of this incredibly entertaining event a few years ago at a similar event at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, VA. Oatlands stopped sponsoring the however and we have been looking for another set of trials ever since.
If you have never seen a border collie – or sheep dog – work, you have missed a display of focus, intensity, and training that rivals Michael Phelps! From the time they are just small pups, border collies have a well developed herding instinct. Left to their own devices, they will “herd” socks, toys or any other out of place item. With the help of a trainer they soon learn to follow a set of calls, hand signals and whistles.
At a timed trial, the dogs work to move three or more sheep across a large field and into a pen. After successfully penning them, the dog then works to separate one sheep from the group. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – sheep do not like to be herded . . .
And afterwards, with heart rates sky high, the dogs collapse in a tub of water to cool off.
Mark your 2009 calendar (Oct. 3-4), pack your folding chair, wear a hat, settle in for an afternoon of simple pleasures, and we’ll see you there.