Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials run Wednesday through Sunday |

Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials run Wednesday through Sunday

Sandra BesseghiniSpecial to the Post IndependentGlenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Bobby Gutierrez Special to the Post IndependentCrazy things happen at the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials, including airborne sheep and border collies. Handler Joni Swanke of Bowman, N.D., and her border collie Griz were separating collared sheep from uncollared sheep at the 2011 event. The team was successful, finishing in sixth place.

MEEKER, Colorado – Expect crazy things to happen when wary range ewes challenge top border collie and handler teams at the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials, running Wednesday through Sunday. Unlike the U.S. Border Collie Handler’s Association Finals held in Carbondale last fall, this year’s Meeker competitors come from across North America, Brazil and South Africa, with an eye on $25,000 in purse and cash prizes. The field is large, rugged, uneven and covered with sagebrush and boulders, posing challenges to the teams trying to maneuver the feisty yearlings over a course replicating conditions found on a working ranch. The young ladies, unused to people and dogs, pick from a bagful of sometimes breathtaking tricks as they try to outwit that predator, the border collie. If judge Andrew Dickman of Oxton, Scotland, says, “Thank you very much,” the audience will know that the ewes have won that round, disqualifying the team.Those new to the sport as well as seasoned aficionados will appreciate the commentary of announcer Ray Crabtree, a sheep rancher, boot maker, teacher, DJ, and border collie handler from Kuna, Idaho.Other competitions in store for the trials include Zippity Do Dogs, an agility competition, and Westside Woofers, featuring dogs catching flyballs, which were also on display at the finals last fall. These events offer a chance for competition at all skills levels, with events running continuously Friday through Sunday. The trials also include lamb cooking and border collie seminars, along with a Fiber to Fabric workshop presented by Sheep Camp Wool Mill.The Celtic musical duo Willson & McKee will sing and play traditional Celtic music on ancient instruments at a free concert on the Rio Blanco County Courthouse lawn on Saturday evening. The event also includes pancake breakfasts, barbecues, unique craft fair, art contest and auction, sheepherders’ wagons, petting farm, demonstrations and a bagpiper.A free shuttle or horse carriage will be running from downtown Meeker to the trials site Friday through Sunday. Pets are not allowed at the trials site, boarding is available off-site.For information, visit or call (970) 878-0111.

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