On Sunday, Hamilton’s farm on Highway 2 will host 19 dogs and 15 competitors in two classes – novice novice and pro novice.
For the Maritimes, that’s quite a large competition,” he said. “There are a lot of people who have collies for pets and just do it as a hobby, but then there are fulltime farmers such as myself who use the dogs on the farm.”
Hamilton says the sport of sheep herding is a “fun” one, but it’s not for everyone.
“Some find it trying because there are a number of factors when it comes to herding – the type of sheep you have, some don’t want to co-operate, and how you connect with your dog that day. And there are different pressures on the course.”
When he purchased his first collie, Hamilton used the dog to herd cattle. He met some people from Lunenburg who had hosted a sheep herding training clinic in Bible Hill, and has stuck with it ever since.
There’s a lot of training to it,” he said. “Usually you start with a young dog and you need to teach left and right – left being ‘come by’ and right being ‘way,’ and stalk is ‘walk up.’You teach them those, and then you can also work with a whistle. There are so many variables.”
By participating in trials, or competitions, Hamilton said “it’s a way to prepare one’s dog.
“It brings the farmers together – it’s a chance to compare how your dogs are trained.”
This weekend’s competitors are coming from throughout the Maritimes, and two are making the trek from the United States.
There is a couple of Moncton that have traveled to the States, and years ago we would travel to Ontario for herding,” Hamilton said.
Those wishing to watch are free to do so on Sunday. The trials begin at 9 a.m. and run until about 3 or 4 p.m.
Training begins on Saturday and there will be roughly 65 to 70 sheep in total used during the herding trials.