Raise your hand if you get the Evan Almighty reference. =)
A few weekends ago the sun shone bright on our old Kentucky home and we decided to head out and see what we could see around Lexington. That particular weekend boasted the Sheep and Fiber Festival in Masterson Station.
Because we live on the wild side, we packed up the kids and some lawn chairs and drove down to watch some sheep herding in action.
It was actually very interesting!
The sheep had been shipped in from Texas - they had never seen a dog, so were not "trained" to be herded.
The dogs ran from their handler to get the sheep that were being held about 450 yards away. The dog then had to herd the sheep in an imaginary straight line back to the handler.
The next step was to herd the sheep back away from the handler and through two gates set up in the field. Because the sheep's eyes are on the sides of their heads they can't see the gates until they are almost on them, and then they spook and tend to run away. The dog needs to herd all three through the gate.
...and then back across the field in a straight line to the handler.
Any type of dog is allowed, although all the ones we saw were border collie types. Earl was curious if pigs were acceptable (we had watched Babe recently).
Using a whistle, hand and voice commands the handler led the dog in cutting one sheep away from the herd, then back in and to another pen.
These dogs were pretty impressive! Highly trained and very obviously loving their job!
I had to laugh at the announcer who occasionally reminded spectators that they could visit the information booth to learn more about training dogs....and get some great lamb recipes!