Cattledogs show off their skill and finesse at NCA Trial Finals
For some people, the thought of a 40-pound dog commanding the attention of a herd 800-pound cows in order to herd them through a myriad of obstacles is dumbfounding. For the competitors at the National Cattledog Association Final Trials, it is a part of everyday life on the ranch.
“My dogs are always around livestock,” said Jeff Mundorf, two-time winner of the NCA Final Trials. “So as long as there is livestock involved, they can handle the herding work and enjoy themselves doing it.”
Mundorf, who owns Twin Pines Farms in Red Oak, Iowa, and his dogs, Oscar and Stash, will compete against handlers and their dogs from 19 states and Canada at the NCA Final Trials this weekend at Flying Diamond Ranch
The dogs and their owners are to compete in five divisions: the open, nursery, intermediate, open horseback and intermediate horseback divisions. Mundorf will compete in the open division for his third NCA Final Trials title.
“I feel like there is some pressure to keep up my streak, but realistically, there are so many good handlers and dogs from all over the country here,” said Mundorf. “When I go out to run my dogs, I don’t focus on the other competitors, who are also a lot of my friends. My goal is for my dog and I to handle the cattle as well as possible and complete each run as clean as possible.
“If I focus on my dog and myself, things sort themselves out from there.”
The event opened Wednesday, and so far, dogs have competed in the first rounds of each of the five divisions. Preliminary and final rounds will continue through the weekend.
Although the primary attractions of the event are the competitive events, the NCA Final Trials and the NCA’s ultimate goal is viewer education.
“Using dogs is important in ranches as the most efficient way to herd cattle and replace certain equipment or employees,” said Lisa Warner, NCA Final Trials representative. “It’s a big deal to get to this level of skill involved in cattledog handling.”
To facilitate such educational opportunities, the NCA is offering clinics for both adults and, for the first time, children, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At the adult clinics, local ranchers and their working dogs will have the opportunity to train with one of the competing handlers and a few cattle.
During the kids clinics, youngsters will learn the basics of general dog obedience and how the handlers train their dogs. After the Saturday clinic, children will also learn how to use a dog whistle.
The adult clinics are at 2 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, and the kids clinics are at 1:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday.
Tickets are available at the event and are $10 per day for adults and free for children 12 and under. Clinics are free with admission.
For the full schedule of events, visit nationalcattledog.com/2015finalsschedule.
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