Sheep dog trials are back at college farm

The Northumberland Sheep Dog Society trials at Kirkley Hall Farm. Picture by Trevor Walker.
The Northumberland Sheep Dog Society trials at Kirkley Hall Farm. Picture by Trevor Walker.

More than 50 sheep dogs have been put through their paces in a major competition.

Shepherds from across Scotland and the North came together at Kirkley Hall Farm as it held its first Northumberland Sheep Dog Society Trial in eight years.

The event ran from 8am to 5pm, offering three categories – new handlers, novice and open league.

It was organised by Kirkley Hall Farm stocksman Michael Stephenson, who joined the college-run farm in 2011 as an animal management student and progressed to full-time employment.

He said: “I have four Border Collies who work with me at Kirkley Hall Farm that I’ve trained from puppies so I thought now was a perfect time to host the trials.

“It’s great to put Kirkley Hall Farm back on the map for these sorts of events, which are important in the farming community.”

Dogs were guided through commands to complete a variety of tasks reflecting their everyday work. Each started with 100 points, with deductions for any mistakes made.

The contest was judged by Stuart Wallace, a shepherd from the Borders region, and the six top competitors were awarded national points to put them in with the chance of qualifying for the International Sheep Dog UK Finals.

The 190-acre estate, along with 1,314 acres at Carlcroft Farm, provides a hands-on teaching resource for Northumberland College students on land-based courses, but also runs as a commercial farm.