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Manchester Sheepdog Trials

by R. S Piggin

This article was specially written for the Collie Folio.
The date shown was March 24, 1909. However, it is not
known if that was the actual date of the trial or the date
the article was published. It was provided to Ms. Sylvia
Barcroft by E. B. Carpenter. Mr. John Bagshaw's Beardy,
Ted,(the spelling of Beardie by Mr. Piggin) assisted in Mr.
Bagshaw winning the silver cup for the highest number
of points that were earned by any handler for the two
combined competitions (being the single and brace).

The first Sheepdog Trial conducted by the Manchester Dog Society was held in the extensive buildings and grounds of Belle Vue Gardens.

The athletic ground and a tract of land adjoining was utilised as a trial course, to test the merits of the working Sheepdogs, none of which could boast of pure descent in any recognised line of show Sheepdogs, but have been bred, without any regard for type, from sires and dams who have for generations been trained to gather and herd sheep and cattle on the mountains and fells of Great Britain. Some may be ugly and morose, and look doubtful creatures to pet, others have a kinder expression; but most have a firm and determined look in the eye, are faithful, intelligent, and hardy, and many have distinguished themselves in hard- fought competitions on their native hills.

The most representative types or crosses favoured are the North Country Beardy and the Smooth and Rough Collie.

The Beardy is generally rather below the medium size of Sheepdog, with black-grey wire hair, and thick undercoat, with good head and semi-erect ears, rough beardy muzzle, very sturdy built, and a game, fast, and clever worker, and of such sterling merit as a Sheepdog and general utility companion that I would strongly but respectfully recommend to those in authority that this deserving and useful type be given a class amongst Sheepdogs on the show bench.

The sheep were strong and wild, direct from the Peak of Derbyshire, and so averse to control that several of the cleverest champions failed to hold them in subjection.

In Class 1., for the single competition, the course consisted of a fetch of three sheep from adjoining field, through a gap in fence of Athletic Ground towards the shepherd (who was stationed at the extreme end of the cycle tract), and driven through parallel hurdles, swinging to the right pushed sheep through a rather tight false fence, and further on a wider false fence, driving forward to make the turn at the far end of the course between two flags, and returning down the middle, reversing through first false fence, when the shepherd was allowed to meet them and assist through Maltese cross and pen. The time allowed for this task was ten minutes, and the possible number of points was 30. There were 18 competitors, with 43 entries. The trials commenced at 10:30, and finished at 6:30. Several competitors spoiled their chance by allowing their dogs to fall loose directly they got sheep on the course, instead of keeping the dog firm and steady in command. Others inclined to the other extreme, and whistled their dogs on to try and rush their sheep round the course in shortest time with the result that they failed to negotiate the obstacles, or the sheep, becoming hopelessly wild, jumped the enclosure, and escaped out of bounds.

The winning dogs in the single competition were:―

1st, Mr. John Mason's Nettie, a Rough Sable (showing a dash of the Beardy).― Worked smartly to command, putting sheep neatly through all obstacles, penned in 8 min. 24 secs., and gaining 29 points out of a possible 30. Nettie's success was mainly owing to her prompt obedience to command, her firm yet smooth movement never frightening her sheep. She was soon on good terms with them, her commander handling her by whistle alone with consummate skill.

2nd, Mr. Jas Bagshaw's Ted, a one-year old Black Beardy.―Fast and smart, gave a stylish performance, and was under excellent command, but these three sheep, as if trying to make amends for the contrary temper of their predecessors, elected to walk straight through the two first obstacles, thereby robbing "Ted" of a portion of the credit and some of the points he might have gained if they had waited for his assistance. His freedom and obedience, however, along with good work through remaining obstances, secured him second place by penning in 9 min. 8 secs., with 27 points.

3rd, Mr. John Bagshaw's Jack.―A grey Rough Old English, was too keen on his sheep at start, and bustled them past gap, but recovering, worked them nicely through all obstacles, and penned in 9 min. 50 secs.

4th, J. Barcroft's Bell.―A Rough Black-and-Tan, got her sheep through all flags, and once through Maltese cross, when time was called. Bell did not freely answer command, and occasionally marred her work but the calm judgment of her commander pulled her into the money with 23 points. Time up.

5th, A. Middleton's Fan, A Smooth Black-and-Tan, worked her sheep quickly through all obstacles to Maltese cross, when time was called; her style and command were good: 22 points.

Reserve, T. E. Batty's Hemp.―A Black-and-White Collie, was quick in getting his sheep into course, and was very smart on command, but his vigorous and sudden response to signal startled the sheep so much that he was unable to get back through last false fence.

V.H.C., I. Ackroyd's Nap.―quickly had his sheep on the course, but pressed too hard at obstacles, and failed at fifth obstacle. Might have done better by steadier handling.

Mr. Mason's Jack.―A Black-and-White Smooth, gave a fine display of style and command in his attempt to control three very wild sheep. Every attempt Jack made to drive the course was instantly taken advantage of by one of the sheep to make it dash for freedom, the gallant old dog as often turning him back, and recovering him; but as they continued to refuse to submit to any kind of discipline the sheep were ordered to the fold, Jack being given a hearty cheer by the spectators.

In the Brace Class (7 entries), two dogs should be sent out right and left to gather, drive, divide and fold six sheep, three to be put in a small triangular pen in the open by the shepherd and one dog, and the other three driven away by the other dog alone into a larger pen in an opposite direction, and keeping guard over them until commanded to release them. After the gap the obstacles were one false fence and pair flags and pens. Time 15 minutes; possible points, 30.

Mason's Jack and Gip started nicely, and worked to command, but were not firm enough at obstacles, and could not complete in time, although they were allowed to finish with two minutes over time.

1st, W. Akrigg's Laddie and Lady.―Both working quickly in a dismal way, without any style, managed to push their sheep round the course and pen both lots in 10 min. 13 secs., and although this was not an attractive performance, and left room for something better, the shedding was well done, and the dogs were worked all along the course.

2nd, J. Barcroft's Scot and Bell.―Scot was too pressing, frequently driving his sheep past instead of through flags. Here, again, the superior handling of headstrong dogs pulled them through, finishing task in 13 min, 35 secs., with 24 points.

3rd. J. Bagshaw's Jack and Ted.―Jack was sent to fetch sheep. Ted was kept at foot, and lost his mark, but was set to work directly sheep were on the course, and practically did all the running, and although they did not work together in unison drove sheep through the course, and penned just within the time limit, with 24 points. Their style scored well.

In addition to the very liberal money prizes, a valuable silver cup was presented by Messrs. W. Batty and Sons, silversmiths, 9 Market Street, Manchester, to the competitor whose two dogs by their work have gained the highest points in the two competitions.


Class I.―1st, ₤10, John Mason, Kirkby Lonsdale; 2nd and 3rd, ₤7 and ₤5, John Bagshaw, Whiston, also silver cup for highest number of points in the two competitions; 4th, ₤3, G. Barcroft, Shuttleworth; 5th, ₤2, A. Middleton, Kirkby Lonsdale.

Class II. (Brace).―1st, ₤3, Wm. Akrigg, Sedbergh, Yorks; and ₤2, G. Barcroft; 3rd, ₤1, John Bagshaw.

At the close of the trials the prizes were presented by the Chairman of the Society, Dr. McGill.

R. S. Piggin.

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