English National Sheepdog Trials

 A feature from the July 2017 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine
Suffolk Norfolk Life July 2017Click to view this issue »
For the first time ever, the English National Sheepdog Trials are being held in Suffolk. Cathy Shelbourne rounds up what’s on offer at the Trials and the accompanying Suffolk on Show event

Have you ever watched a sheepdog in action and wondered, when you are struggling to control children, pets or even partners, if there’s a lesson to be learnt?

That steely glare – or ‘eye’ – with which the sheepdog fixes the sheep and ensures that the flock moves immediately in the direction required by the handler could be useful. And commands such as come-bye, or away to me, gain instant obedience, the result of years of training and trust built up between shepherd and sheepdog.

Such mesmerising displays of teamwork will be played out at the English National Sheepdog Trials, taking place with the Suffolk on Show event at Haughley Park near Stowmarket from 28th – 30th July. Over 150 top dogs and their handlers will be competing for the title of English National Champion 2017.

Among them is Ed Hawkins, shepherd and grazier from Nedging in Suffolk. “The last time the English Nationals were held in East Anglia, in Holkham, Norfolk, was before I had my first dog, at the age of six,” he recalls. Now he has two dogs, Troy and Max, who are in their prime in terms of age and fitness, and have both qualified for the English Nationals. “I bred Troy myself, and in him I am lucky to have a dog who is exactly what I want.”

Ed is no stranger to being in the public eye. He helped train the celebrities taking part in Flock Stars, a series influenced by the highly successful One Man and His Dog television series which ran for twenty-three years and attracted audiences of up to eight million viewers. “Although Flock Stars was fun and enjoyable, it was a huge challenge. I was working with people from completely different walks of life, who hadn’t ever had anything to do with dogs and sheep.”

Read the full article in the July 2017 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life Magazine
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