The Northern Ireland Sheepdog Handlers Association has been formed after two meetings being held in the Library in Moneymore.
The aim of this Association is to promote the Border Collie and Sheepdog trials as well as the welfare of this breed.
A spokesperson said they intend to run Nursery Trials in the Autumn as well as Open trials throughout the year and anyone who is a resident of Northern Ireland and interested in sheepdogs and trialling are welcome to join.
He continued: “Our Nurseries will be run as nurseries, as dogs with Open points will not be allowed to compete and there will be two classes for dogs.
“Class 1 will be for dogs who have not appeared on a trial field before their first nursery and will consist of outrun, lift, fetch and pen and Class 2 for dogs that have run at trials but have not gained Open points consisting of outrun, lift, fetch, drive and pen.
“We feel that this will ease the pressure put on young dogs to compete at nurseries and so let them mature at a pace they can handle and hopefully have more young dogs making it onto the trial circuit. For years over 100 young dogs have competed at nursery trials each winter with only a very small percentage of them making it to the trials that summer,” the spokesperson continued.
“Our Nursery season will run from 16th September 2017 with the final taking place on Saturday, 2nd December 2017 and is for dogs under three years old at 1st January 2018. This will give handlers the chance to run Open trials from December onwards to get points on their dogs for National qualification.
“The courses for our nurseries will be no longer than 250-300 yards maximum. We see no sense having nursery dogs running on big courses when Open dogs are running over courses sometimes only 200-250 yards long to get points to qualify for Nationals. The members of the Association would like to thank Mr David Cahoon and family for their kind gesture of presenting the Northern Ireland Sheepdog Handlers Association with two lovely shields for the winners of Classes 1 and 2 at the Nursery Final.”
It has also been discussed about running a Northern Ireland Championship trial for members with qualification being taken from trials affiliated to the Association from 1st May 2017 to 30th April 2018 with the top 30-40 dogs competing for the title of “Northern Ireland Champion.”
The spokesperson continued: “The Northern Ireland Sheepdog Association aims to give its members more of a say in the Association and encourages them to attend meetings to voice their opinions and discuss topics that will hopefully bring the enjoyment back into trialling as it was before where everyone can enjoy themselves and have a good day out even with a bad run. Sheepdog trialling is certainly competitive but it should also be enjoyable. A bad run is not life threatening and there is always another day.
“We will be affiliating our association to the International Sheepdog Society and supporting all they do and our constitution and rules for trials are in sympathy with theirs, which will leave us in the position to provide public liability insurance from the ISDS for people running sheepdog trials.”
Anyone wishing to use this facility should contact the secretary Susan Kelly on 07732334368 or Brian Kelly, chairman on 07753260947.
The next meeting of the Association will be on Monday, 14th August 2017 at 8pm in the old Library, Moneymore.