This Sunday, for the first time, Countryfile is home to the BBC’s One Man and His Dog competition, showcasing the time-honoured skills and traditions of sheep dog trialling. Matt Baker takes to the commentary box to take us through all the trialling action, while Julia Bradbury finds out if the collie really is the brains in the operation.
Those looking after sheep, often on open and sometimes difficult rural land need the assistance of one, two or even a team of well-trained sheepdogs.
Competitions and demonstrations are regularly held, showcasing which breed lines produce the most able dogs – hence the name sheepdog trials. The dogs will move sheep around a field and obstacles such as fences, gates, or enclosures under the command of their handlers. Contests range from local events, to those on national scales, where competitors represent their ‘home’ nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
National trials are carried out over a 400-yard course with five sheep, containing the standard elements of outrun, lift, fetch, drive, shed, pen and single. The top fifteen competitors from each of the four National Trials go through to compete in the International Trial.
Browse our articles below to find out more about sheepdog trials, or just keeping dogs and sheep.
For the first time in its 36-year history, 2012’s series of One Man and His Dog was filmed live.
One Man and His Dog
This long-running programme isn’t just an institution; it was also the inspiration for a lifelong passion for Countryfile
presenter Matt Baker
A dog’s view of the countryside
Does your dog’s behaviour sometimes spoil your country walks? The solution may lie in understanding its true nature, especially its powerful sense of smell, writes Dr John Bradshaw
Top dog-friendly activities
For many of us, our four-legged companions are our best friends and we would take them almost anywhere with us if we could. Here is a list of activities, from fun days out to luxury evening dining that you and your dog can enjoy!
Your perfect country dog
If you love the thought of country walks with a pet dog but aren’t sure which breed will suit you best, expert trainer Gwen Bailey can help you make up your mind
Following in the footsteps of Beatrix Potter, Caroline Watson is passionate about saving the Lake District’s distinctive Herdwick sheep
Following in his great-grandfather’s footsteps, James Laxton is bringing British wool back to Bradford
In the first of a new series, Countryfile’s Adam Henson introduces some of the rare animal breeds that live on his Cotswold farm