I was incredibly humbled to have the opportunity to host the 2011 RFD-TV U.S. Border Collie Handler's Association's National Cattledog Finals in Redding, IA. I gained a wealth of information from being a part of this event. Observing the instincts of the dogs competing, witnessing the close relationship between dog and handler, and having a platform to discuss low-stress animal handling techniques with consumers will be featured segments in an hour-long show that will air Sept. 5, 6 and 10 on RFD-TV.
This was my first time being a part of something like this, both hosting a television show and attending a cattledog finals - a fun and exciting experience. If, like me, you haven't witnessed an event like this before, here is an awesome description found on the National Cattledog Finals website about the competition:
"Three yearling calves stand grazing upon a green, grassy hillside several hundred yards in the distance. A pair of horseback riders quietly stand sentinel around them. A black-and-white dog is flying as true as an arrow in a wide arc to a point just opposite the group of cattle. Like a missile that has found its mark, the dog embeds itself at a point behind the cattle, guided by the instinct bred into him by generations of genetics. The horsemen stand silent and motionless as soft whistles instruct the dog forward in control of the cattle that are now under his charge, moving forward down the green hill directed by the presence and power of their new master. The test of wills between dog and cattle is occasionally punctuated by an attempted escape by the cattle, but a quick nip, or a fast flank, re-establishes the dominance of the canine guide. Directed by a constant melody of whistles offered by an expert livestock handler, the intense border collie expertly stalks and guides the black calves over the green hills through multiple gates set on a course nearly half a mile in length.”
With a better image in mind, here are my highlights from the weekend:
- Meeting the dogs and their handlers, who don’t just compete in the sport but are also valued members of real working cattle operations.
- Learning more about cattle handling and gaining a better understanding of techniques I can take back to my own operation.
- Visiting with cattlemen about cattle genetics, corn and bean planting updates and ways to educate other ranchers about cattledogs.
-Paying tribute to Jim Chant, a cattle handler and finals committee member who passed away just months before the event.
- Finally, crowning our victorious winners — Nursery Dog Champion, Jerry Davis and his dog, Juanita; and Open Dog Champion, Jimmy Walker and his dog, Mitch. Congratulations!
Last week, readers shared their best stories about a ranch's most beloved employee -- the cattledog. These readers were entered to win a copy of “Worth Four Good Men,” a limited-edition print by South Dakota artist Mick B. Harrison. Retailing for $100 each, the image depicts a working dog helping move cattle on the bluffs of South Dakota’s Missouri River. Learn more about Harrison here. Congratulations to our five winners: Leroy Daniels, Jeff Parker, Randy Rouse, Stephanie Keegan and Connie McKay. Link here to read their stories and learn how the use of cattledogs on their operations has eliminated the need for additional hired men. Thanks again to all who participated! Stay tuned for another contest coming up tomorrow!