Watching black and white dogs zip around a meadow in the diligent pursuit of sheep is a rather pleasant way to spend a spring afternoon. The dogs are amazing and it’s fascinating to watch how much the terrain affects the direction the sheep travel. How much harder the dogs have to work to keep them on a line cutting across a slope instead of letting them follow their natural inclination to travel down hill. I shouldn’t have been so surprised, years spent working with horses should have made me think about the lines of least resistance across terrain, just like holding your line to a cross country fence. The day had much in common with the nicer horse shows/events I have been to – good weather, beautiful landscapes, clever animals, good training and all the drama in the competition not the competitors. However as much as I like dogs and found the whole thing both beautiful and interesting, I could never, ever, ever do this for fun……it would take me precisely ten minutes of trying to get recalcitrant sheep into a pen to decide that the only good sheep were the ones that were properly butchered and in my freezer, which would really rather complicate things.
This is a difficult event to photograph with out fast, long lenses and I was not well equipped. I had hoped to do some dog and handler photos, but…… Make sure you check out how keen the dog in the top photo looks (he’s in the top left corner). It’s easier to move large groups of sheep (they want to stay together and are calmer in a herd) than moving just three like they do in competition.