The trials, of which there are a total of 27 across
Northumberland throughout the year, ran from 8am in the morning
until 5pm on Thursday 18 May and included three different
New Handlers (Those who haven't ran a Novice route before)
Novice (Those who haven't ran an Open League route before)
Open League (Open to all, usually ran by those who wish to gain
The event, which is the first Northumberland Sheep Dog Society
Trial in eight years to be held at Kirkley Hall, saw Shepherds from
as far as Scotland to Manchester come together to compete.
The International Sheep Dog
Society is a member organisation and registers over 6,000 Border
Collie pups every year on behalf of its members.
Kirkley Hall Farm Stocksman, Michael Stephenson, organised the
event. He joined the College in 2011 as an Animal Management
student and has since progressed to full-time employment on the
Michael 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
During the competition, dogs were guided through a series of
commands to complete a variety of tasks that reflect their everyday
work with a packet of sheep.
Each competitor started their race with 100 points and for every
mistake made during the run, the judge, Stuart Wallace, who is a
well-known Shepherd from the Boarders region, deducted points.
Michael added: "Each handler will have a preference when giving
their commands, either by voice, by whistle, or a combination of
The six top placed competitors of the day who secured the most
points were awarded with National Points, meaning they will now
stand a chance of qualifying in the International Sheep Dog UK
18-year-old Megan Young, Northumberland College's Farm
Apprentice, assisted on the day, ensuring the trial ran smoothly
and letting the sheep out for each trial.
Megan is also in the process of training her own sheep dog to
work on the farm and compete in trials.
She said: "Being part of Sheep Dog Trials was great experience
and is something I look forward to competing in in future.
"I love working outdoors and on the farm. Every day is
different, but I do a mixture of bedding, feeding and tagging the
sheep and cattle.
"During the Spring I have been involved with the lambing here at
Kirkley Hall, so this year I've really had the opportunity to
expand my skills thanks to my Apprenticeship and the help from the
Agriculture team here."
The 190-acre Kirkley Hall estate along with 1314 acres at
Carlcroft Farm, provide a valuable hands-on teaching resource for
our students studying on our various land-based courses including
agriculture and horticulture.
The farm runs as a commercial farming operation with sheep and
cattle livestock as well as arable farming operations, providing
financial returns to the College.
Its gardens exceed four hectares and include the National Fagus
(Beech Tree) Collection, a Victorian walled garden, woodland
gardens and 1,330sqm of amenity and commercial greenhouses.
Those interested in studying a course in Northumberland
College's Kirkley Hall campus should visit www.kirkley.ac.uk for more