National sheepdog finals coming to Carbondale

A sheepdog runs around to cut off the group of sheep while competing in the 2019 National Sheepdog Finals at Strang Ranch. The event is set to return to the ranch this year from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Starting Sept. 26 and running through Oct. 1, the United States Border Collie Handlers Association (USBCHA) National Sheepdog Finals will be held at Carbondale’s historic Strang Ranch, an establishment with deep roots in the Roaring Fork Valley that stretch back to 1965. Over the years, the ranch has served various purposes, ranging from a cattle ranch and sod farm to an equestrian center.

With all ticket and parking proceeds going to Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE), a nonprofit animal shelter in Glenwood Springs, the event embodies more than just competition — it’s about community support. CARE stands as a vital resource in the community, offering a myriad of services from pet adoption to feral cat TNR, spay/neuter assistance, and more. CARE Executive Director Wes Boyd, past events have raised anywhere between $8,000 to $10,000 for the organization.

“Our partnership with Strang Ranch has been a major benefactor for us and we can’t express our level of gratitude enough for what they have done for us,” Boyd said. “We are always looking for ways to increase our exposure and spread the word about the shelter in our community, they have allowed us that and more.”

The week-long event at Strang Ranch is open to the public and offers more than just sheepdog trials. Attendees can expect a lineup of the nation’s top dog/handler teams, a vendors’ row with a variety of food and beverage — including beer — and merchandise options. 

To qualify for the national finals, dogs must compete throughout the year, taking their top five collective scores from events to earn a spot. Only the top 150 dogs make the cut, out of which 40 qualify for the semifinals, and eventually, only the top 17 progress to the finals.

Strang Ranch owner Bridget Strang holds a personal stake in the competition. Three of her dogs qualified for this year’s competition, and Strang’s passion for sheepdog trials dates back to 2004, introduced to her by a cousin from Meeker. It wasn’t until 2010 that she got her first dog and started participating in trials.

“I was introduced to it and immediately, I became addicted,” Strang said. “It’s an ever-changing landscape. On any given day a handler can have a good day or bad day and change the whole dynamic of the contest.”

Strang aspires to one day make it past the semifinals and onto the world championships, which currently unfold in Ireland.

“I think our ranch is a perfect place to host these finals,” Strang added. “I think we have really figured out a way to guarantee the best sheepdog trials experience for everyone who participates. It’s a fantastic experience and we couldn’t be more excited to bring this event back to Carbondale and this ranch.”

Complete event details and USBCHA information are available at Tickets will be available for purchase at the main gate.

If you go…

What: USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals

When: Sept.26 to Oct.1

Where: Strang Ranch, 393 County Road 102, Missouri Heights

How much: Ages 7 and younger: Free
Ages 8-16: $5
Seniors: $5
Adults: $20
Group pricing: $40 per vehicle with three or more passengers

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