The Collie Cooler

At the end of each event, the participating dog takes a well-earned dip in the 'Collie Cooler' water trough.

From May 7-9, handlers from five states and Canada will converge on Delta County to put their stock dogs through a challenging series of sheepherding paces. The Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials will feature Colorado contestants and dogs as well as competitors from Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah and Canada.

The field includes more than 50 handlers and nearly 70 dogs competing at levels from nursery and novice to professionals.

Interrupted last year by COVID-19, the trials enter their 18th year this season.

Events begin at 8 a.m. on Friday, May 7, and last well into the afternoon. Start time is 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9. Spectators’ entry fees at the gate are $4 on Friday, $5 on Saturday and $5 on Sunday. Children younger than 12 are free.

Craft and art vendors will display their wares, including souvenir hats and shirts. A sheep wagon will be on display and a food vendor will be on hand.

Novice and nursery dogs run on Friday morning. After lunch, a special “silent gather” will feature advanced dogs that are sent out on a single “go” command to complete a two-minute gather of sheep, without any additional commands from the handler.

On Saturday and Sunday pro/novice and open dogs compete.

This year’s judge is Carol Clawson from Utah. Clawson was 5 when her family got their first border collie. She even took a border collie to college with her. When her own family was grown, she began working her dogs on sheep. A regular participant in stock dog trials, Clawson served as president of the Utah Stockdog Association for several years and she continues to serve on the association’s board of directors and as her club’s trial organizer. She is past-president of the United States Border Collie Handlers Association (USBCHA).

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