Real work is about what is practical and efficient. Trialing attempts to take what is practical and efficient to precise and perfect. That’s why it requires more interaction and entails such mental discipline on the part of a handler/dog team.
I have never understood the “thought process” that trialing isn’t practical. The phases of work that transpires at a trial are common occurrences in every day shepherding. The difference is your work is being judged and has to be brought up to a higher standard.
Separating ewes out that are bred (in order to feed them extra) is one maneuver that is used frequently (shedding). Driving sheep through gates simulates driving sheep to the next field through a gate. Much easier “at home” because there is a fence on “either side” of “those” gates funneling the sheep through also the sheep KNOW where the gate is. Penning, driving, outruns are all necessary to any sheep operation. I’ve always thought trialing was one of the best ways to improve the genetics of working dogs. It’s a place to see numerous dogs work and see their strengths and weakness. Hopefully allowing us to see potential breeding quality we need to improve the working dog.
Why people trial is another story. For some it’s the “glory” for others it’s a to see how their dogs measure up to other dogs.
I’ve always try to look at trials as a gauge to see where my dogs are in their training and to find what I need to work on. Winning is great and we all enjoy it but it doesn’t make you nor your dog any better/worse than before you walked to that post.
Then, there are some people that make trialing miserable for everyone attending. Instead of watching dogs looking for the special ones -no, instead – they use it as a time to put down everything and everybody. Each and every dog and handler has good and bad qualities. To look for the negative in every run in order to say how much better they could do … is a way to try and build themselves up by putting others down. I understand not liking a dog or a way a handler handles a dog … everyone has their preferences — but to go out of your way to LOOK for faults … isn’t good for trialing.
There is a top handler I admire very much as I’ve never heard him put down either handler nor a dog. He looks at dogs and if you ask him what he thinks he will point out the good parts of the run. He’s a pleasure to be around and makes a trial an enjoyable place. I wish there were more like him as I think he’s the best PR there is for dog trialing.