Fun, excitement dominate Dog Trial
IT’S GOING TO BE a record year for everyone
at the Stock Dog Trials. The 2019 Stock Dog
Trial has 120 dogs signed up for this year’s
competition. There will be 80 dogs participating in the open trial and 60 competing in the
Without Jim Shepard, the Stock Dog Trial
director for the Sunbelt Ag Expo, none of
this would run as smoothly as it does. Every
year, the event is a crowd-pleaser that keeps
people coming back year after year.
He comes from a long line of shepherds.
He first became interested in stock dogs
about 20 years ago, and since then, he has
both helped and competed at the Expo
throughout the years.
While the stock dog trials are open to all
breeds, border collies have come to dominate
the trials at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. The border
collie is bred just for working and herding by
the Scottish. They are known for their intelligence and obedience.
The dog trials are divided into two different groups which are ultimately based on
experience and maturity. The great thing
about participating in trials is age does not
It is fun-filled four days for everyone, and
the handlers love some good friendly competition. The competition starts on Monday
and goes on until Thursday with a winner
The first division of the trials is pro-novice.
These trials are for dogs or handlers who have
never competed in the upper-level trials. The
course is smaller for the pro-novice trials. For
instance, the outrun, or the long run distance
a dog must cover, is the initial phase of the
competition, which is about 250 yards to 300
yards for the open class but only about 100
yards to 120 yards for the pro-novice class.
The pro-novice competition is especially
important for the younger dogs that do not
have a lot of experience. Our judge this year
for this portion of the competition will be our
very own Mark Ireland.
The second portion of the event will be
our open division. This part of the competition is geared for the more advanced dogs
This year’s judge for the open sheep competition is Michael Gallagher, and we are
thrilled to be having such a highly renown
handler come to the Sunbelt Ag Expo this
Gallagher grew up loving dogs and started
helping his father, Adian, with Border Collie
dogs when he was only 12 years old. However,
he did not get into stock dog trials until 2003.
Starting out, his first dog was a little female
dog named Gyp, and she took Michael to his
first big win of International Young Handler of
the Year in 2005. He added his second dog to
his team, a rough-coated Scottish bred dog
Cap took Michael as far as any handler's
dreams can go. With a clean sweep in 2010,
they were the International Supreme Champion, 1st place in the qualifying round, and
won the Driving Championship. Combined
with a 3rd in the World Trial in 2011 and multiple open wins under their belt, they were a
formidable team for many years.
Now with Val, a young granddaughter of
Cap, they took 14th at the 2017 World Trial.
Dee Penatazer Bailes of Sanford, North
Carolina, was the trial course director last year
and will be returning this year to serve once
more. Bailes is terrific at what she does in the
field so make sure you stop by and pay her a
visit at the trials.
This year, the sheep for the 2019 competition will be provided by Davis Shaunders from
The American Grand Finals are sanctioned
by the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association,
and participants can earn points in Georgia
stock dog trials.
The expo also extends thanks to Abraham
Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) for their
assistance during the trials. Shepard says
ABAC students help by sorting and penning
the sheep at the far end of the field.
Last year’s trial was held on Oct. 16-18 in
conjunction with North America’s Premier
Farm Show, the Sunbelt Ag Expo at Spence
Field in Moultrie, Georgia. It was a great educational opportunity for the thousands of
visitors who attended the Sunbelt Ag Expo
and a very competitive trial for the handlers.
There were three days of keen competition
in the open sheep trial that saw Scott Johnson
and his dog, Dave, win Overall Open Sheep
competition. Hubert Bailey and Cole won
Reserve Open Sheep, and Stuart Ballantyne
and Cap won Overall Pro-Novice.
Gail Hillburn won the most improved
handler award. Daily open trial winners were
Tommy Connell and Moss on Tuesday, David
Saunders and Curtis on Wednesday, and
Scott Johnson and Dave on Thursday. Pro-novice daily winners were David Saunders
and Cody on Tuesday, Kim Hicks and Jintzy
on Wednesday and Tommy Connell and Shep
The bleachers are always full to capacity
throughout the trials. Make sure you get there
in time to get a nice shady place to sit and
watch the trials under the shelter constructed
over the bleachers by the trial organizers and
sponsor Tyson Steel Building Products.