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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
The winning dogs in the single
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
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
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
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.