Belle Grove to host sheepdog finals in 2017

Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown has won a bid to host the United States Border Collie Handlers Association’s 2017 National Sheepdog Finals next year.

Kristen Laise, executive director of Belle Grove, said a committee composed of local handlers and association members prepared a bid that outlined Belle Grove’s facilities and ability to handle the size and scope of the finals. The bids were submitted to the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association for review and a final decision.

The finals are the North American championship of working dogs and their handlers from across the U.S. and Canada. Competitors will earn a spot in the finals after success at local sheepdog trials held throughout the year.

The event, which will be held Sept. 26 to Oct. 1, 2017, will be the fourth time Belle Grove has hosted the event. Other years hosting the finals were in 1999, 2010 and 2013, Laise said.  The plantation has also hosted regional sheepdog finals.

Laise said they expect about 150 dogs to participate in the event, along with about 500 sheep.

According to a Belle Grove news release, during the event each team of dog and handler must collect a group of sheep from over 400 yards away. By using whistle and voice commands, handlers “talk” the dog into position and move their sheep through a series of obstacles while being timed. Judges cut points for lack of precision or un-workmanlike management of livestock. The final competition is the Double Lift, a difficult test in which a dog must fetch one group of sheep, bring it to the handler and then fetch another group.

The event begins with open preliminary rounds Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, through Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, in preparation for the semi-finals on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. Top dogs and their handlers will compete in the finals on Sunday, Oct 1, 2017.

There will also be concurrent finals for nursery dogs, under 3 years old, taking place Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 through Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com



• The 2016 National Sheepdog Finals are taking place in Carbondale, Colorado, Sept. 13-­18. Visit  www.sheepdogfinals.com for more information.

• As the event is being planned, information will be shared through the websites www.bellegrove.org and www.2017usbchanationalsheepdogfinals.com.