McCormack Ranch Sheepdog Trials: Great Fun and Benefit for the Whole Community
April 6, 2016
In abundant sunshine under a bright blue sky in the green, rolling Montezuma Hills, the third annual McCormack Ranch Sheepdog Trials were held last weekend amid enthusiastic cheering from the many spectators who gathered for the three-day event. More than 80 dogs and their handlers, some driving across several states, competed in this world class herding event on the McCormack Ranch Hill Farm trial course over the weekend.
This competition is a very engaging and exciting community gathering to attend. The competing dogs, responding to their owner’s/handler’s intricate whistle commands from as far away as 650 yards across the long course, herded the unpredictable flock of sheep with an impressive level of precision that is hard to believe, if it wasn’t happening right before your eyes. Each individual trial is divided into specific segments: fetch (gate), cross drive, pen, and shed, which were configured in a different order each day and governed tightly by rules and a brief, 13 minute time limit. It is the hope of each contestant to win the privilege of going on to compete in the National Sheepdog Finals against other winning dogs from all over the United States, but it is just as clear that the dogs and the people were also having a great time. An enthusiastic turnout of spectators cheered each win loudly or sighed, just as loudly, when a benchmark was missed or a rule compromised along the difficult course. It was impossible to figure out who was having more fun – the spectators, the dogs and their owners or the many community volunteers that came to help out.
The event was sponsored by the National Border Collie Association, McCormack Sheep and Grain, and Soroptimist International of Rio Vista. The Montezuma Hills Fire District cooked and sold delicious barbecued lamb dinners and Rio Vista Youth Services raised funds by selling drinks, hamburgers and hot dogs. Many individual citizens also volunteered for the three-day annual event made possible by the generosity of Jeannie McCormack and Al Medvitz, who kindly host this event on their ranch each year and provide the sheep for the competition.