The 2015 International Sheep Dog Trials, which took place last week in Dumfriesshire, have been hailed as the ‘best ever’ by the International Sheep Dog Society. Organised by local volunteers, led by sheep dog expert Fiona McMillan and funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council and EventScotland, the event was designed to showcase Dumfries & Galloway’s beautiful countryside, hospitality and rural skills to an international audience.
HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the International Sheep Dog Society attended on the first day of the trials, while television crews from BBC Scotland filmed on the day. BBC Alba and S4C (the Welsh language broadcaster) filmed throughout the event. S4C’s coverage of the Trials will be broadcast on Saturday 3rd October and BBC Alba’s six one hour programmes will be broadcast in January 2016.
Ireland scooped the team title, Welsh competitor Aled Owen and his dog Llangwm Cap were crowned Supreme Champions on Saturday with Wales also taking the Young Handler title. The top placed Scottish competitor was Alistair Stewart and his dog Midge from Lockerbie who achieved outstanding recognition from the Society in being awarded one of the sport’s highest and most coveted prizes – that of ‘Shepherd’s Cup.’
The scale of the 2015 Trials reflects a growing interest in sheep dog trialling, building on the cult appeal of the iconic One Man and His Dog.
The event was part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink celebrations, and it showcased locally produced food, drink and crafts in a specially designed Artisan Village at the Trials. Children from local schools and nurseries had an opportunity to see the competition in glorious sunshine on the Thursday and Friday.
Organiser Fiona McMillan said the Trials were an opportunity to celebrate Dumfries & Galloway’s hospitality and agricultural heritage:
“The International is one of the most prestigious sheep dog events in the world, and we welcomed visitors from Canada, USA and many from across mainland Europe who had come to see the most highly skilled dogs and handlers demonstrate their skills.
“Dumfries & Galloway has a proud tradition of sheep hill farming and shepherding, so to hold this important event in Dumfriesshire for the first time in over 30 years was a great honour, especially so given the resurgence of interest in sheep dog trials as a spectator sport.
“I’m delighted with the support and effort made by the local community, our funders, our local sponsors and of course our hosts for the event, the Mair family. Together we put together an event that surpassed the expectations of the International Sheep Dog Society and its members.”