MEEKER I For 30 years, the town of Meeker has opened its doors to the world for a week each September for the sheepdog trials. Following in those footsteps, with high hopes that it will match the sheepdog trials, the Meeker Classic announces its plans to host the 2016 National Cattledog Association Finals.
Slated for June 15-19, this event will showcase 140 of North America’s top cattledogs in the world’s largest cattledog trial.
The finals feature the top qualifiers competing in five different classes running on two fields over five days. Event organizers hope this will be the beginning of another time-honored tradition for Rio Blanco County.
Meeker’s rich heritage of dog trials led the National Cattledog Association (NCA) to approach the Meeker Classic about hosting a cattledog trial. A successful one-day Cattledog Trial in June 2015 prompted both parties to look to the future.
NCA members and cattledog handlers were impressed by the community’s hospitality and ability to pull together and run a trial. Meeker is recognized worldwide for its reputation for putting on dog trials and will be a draw as this new event is initiated.
A Cattledog Trial committee has been formed within the larger organization of the Meeker Classic. Organizing committee members Leah Bohlander, Jessica Browning, Bruce Clatterbaugh, Regas Halandras, Justin Hanson, Michelle Morgan, Cynda Norrell, Crystal Roberts, Janelle Urista, Kelcee and Ryan Vroman and Maym Cunningham are excited about the possibilities and what the NCA Finals will bring to the community.
Still working to nail down extracurricular activities for the week and wanting to build off of the strengths of the sheepdog trials while creating an event unique unto itself, committee members envision this event bringing visitors and commerce to the area.
The event will be featured as the world’s largest cattledog trial.
To qualify for the NCA Finals, competitors must earn points from more than 75 sanctioned trials held across the North America during the year leading up to this competition.
Two fields at Ute Park will feature the top 140 qualifiers as they compete in five classes: Open, Intermediate and Nursery in addition to Open and Intermediate Horseback. Differing from sheepdog trials, the handlers do have the option of entering on foot or horseback. Each dog and handler will have the opportunity to make two qualifying runs before the top scorers advance to the finals in each class.
The best help on a ranch is often a well-trained dog that gathers cattle and assists in working them in a large pasture or in the corral. Each course will feature different obstacles all designed to duplicate typical situations on the ranch. The varied and unique obstacles separate the cattledog trials from sheepdog trials, while both require well trained dogs that work livestock in an efficient, low-stress manner.
Each class will have a different course to run. In the preliminary runs, competing teams will be working three head of cattle, set several hundred yards away from where the handler and dog must begin. The dog is sent out to gather the stock and bring them back across the handler line. From there, the dog must direct the stock through a series of panels or obstacles laid out in a specific order. Each set of obstacles must be entered in a specific direction.
The course is timed, and each category has a time limit. During certain portions of the course, the handler must stay behind the handler line, directing the dog to move the stock from there. In other sections of the course, the handler may move around the course to assist the dog in putting the stock through an obstacle. The handler is not allowed to enter or reach into an obstacle to assist the dog. The stakes increase for the final round in each class by adding additional groups of cattle that the dog must gather.
As plans go forward, the Cattledog Committee welcomes input, suggestions and volunteers from the community. This is an event designed to draw on the local ranching heritage and the rich tradition of dog trials in the community. Bringing dog enthusiasts, industry interests, vendors, competitors and visitors together for five days will yield positive and lasting economic results for the area. It will be the premier cattledog trial in North America.
Committee members have begun the task of planning and executing the event—drafting vending applications, initiating fundraising efforts, creating a website, planning courses and special events are just a few of the endeavors in the works.
Wanting to offer the opportunity to local producers first, committee members will be seeking bids for cattle to be used in the trials. Roughly 200 head of yearlings will be needed for the five days. In addition to a negotiated lease for the cattle, all livestock will be insured and well cared for with fresh water, pasture and hay during the trials.
The Meeker Classic Cattledog Committee makes it a priority in our trial to advocate the efficient low-stress and humane handling of cattle by promoting the use and demonstrating the value of well-trained cattledogs.
The Meeker Classic dog trials intertwine dogs, stock, heritage and trade into a week-long showcase of volunteerism, sportsmanship and friendship and is an opportunity to become part of something great for Meeker! Please contact the Meeker Classic if you’re interested in being part of this special event. Call 970-878-0111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org