The innate ability of border collies to herd livestock is quite remarkable. These obedient and intelligent dogs possess an instinct to perform the task. While it does take roughly two years to train the dogs properly with commands, they come by the ability naturally, gathering and holding livestock and heading off an animal that veers away from the group.
The benchmark for the working border collie's herding ability is the Sheep Dog Trial. Today through Sunday at Steppingstone Farm Museum in Havre de Grace, border collies will compete at the Steppingstone Sheep Dog Trial. The competition will entail dog and handler forcing unfamiliar sheep through an obstacle course. Dogs are rated on a point system, with tasks broken into segments. The trial is generally quite a departure for the dog, whose daily job may be herding cows home for milking or moving a familiar flock of sheep to another pasture.