When Curtis Travis was in high school, participating in cattledog trials was something he never imagined he would do. However, four years ago, Travis bought his first cattledog, and that all changed.
Now, a cattledog trial is scheduled 8:30 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday at the Travis Farm, 2240 Iris Ave. Signs will be posted along roadways to guide people to the event. The cattledog trial is a sanctioned trial, and part of The United States Border Collie Handler’s Association Inc. Members who qualify at a sanctioned trial are eligible to compete in the USBCHA National Sheep and Cattledog Finals.
“There are people coming from everywhere for this,” said Travis. “I have a guy coming from South Dakota who is bringing five dogs, and there is a guy coming from Alabama. We may have people from Texas and Illinois coming, too. We probably have 20 to 25 handlers coming.”
At the trial, the handler will receive points for their outrun, lift and fetch. They will also have to complete a number of obstacles by guiding their dog.
Admission to the cattledog trial is free, and lunch will be provided on sight.
“To do a trial, you have to have the location and the resources,” said Travis. “And I had them. Even if I wasn’t running in the trial, I still would have put it on.”
Using a cattledog means the dog will need a lot of training, but, some things do come naturally to dogs.
“I use border collies,” said Travis. “They instinctively will circle the animals because they want to bring them back to you, that is just what is natural to them. Once you get them circling, you start teaching them their directions.”
The command used by handlers if they want their dog to circle clockwise around the cattle is “come by,” for counter clockwise the command is “away.”
“You do that with the dog for 15 to 20 minutes a day until they are completely trained,” said Travis. “You may have to do a tune up here and there, but for me, since we have the feed lot, they get a tune up all of the time.”
Travis uses his border collie, Griff, to sort cattle, pull off lame cows and cow and calf pairs.
“When you are training the dog you speak really soft,” said Travis. “So, when you want them to move faster, you raise your voice. And, if you growl at them, they know that is a punishment. In general, with these dogs, you never have to be aggressive. Your voice is punishment enough.”
Travis added, he is excited about the trial because it is a fun atmosphere, and it wouldn’t be possible without his sponsors.
“We are excited,” he said. “We just hope there is a good turnout and people have fun while they are here.”