Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1988 Grampian Television Sheepdog Trials at Castle Forbes

A series of three films from 1988, showing a heat of the Grampian Television Sheepdog Trials at Castle Forbes, west of Aberdeen, with commentary by Robbie Shepherd and Bill Merchant. Each pairing, man and dog, has to collect, drive and then pen five sheep. First comes the outrun, with the dog curving round to collect the sheep from the far end of the field. Then comes the fetch and the drive, bringing the sheep back to the shepherd through various gates, followed by a visit to the shedding ring, where one of the two ewes wearing red ribbons has to be separated from its fellows. Finally comes the pen, and once the shepherd has swung the gate across, the overall score is calculated from a maximum of 100.

The first competitors are John Bathgate, a shepherd of 30 years' standing from Stobo near Peebles, with his dog Vic, who has been with him for six years. Next comes John Angus MacLeod, a regular at sheepdog trials since 1947, with Taff.

Their day-to-day work is on Ben Lawers, rough country rising to almost 4,000ft, very different terrain than the flat competition field.

Finally we see Rab Alexander, with another Vic, a pairing normally to be seen on a 12,000-acre Highland estate rising to 3,400ft. Dogs are particularly valuable on the high hills with a large acreage. There tend to be only a few scattered sheep in such places, so both shepherd and dog have to cover a lot of ground to gather the flock.

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