Open - Preliminary Round - 100 total points
In the Preliminary Round there will be 5 sheep set for the handler and dog to navigate through the course. For judging purposes, there are 6 different elements in this round. There is a maximum time allotted, however, there is no advantage to finishing quickly. If the times expires while a handler is still on course, they receive all points up to that point. No points from the element they are on, or subsequent elements, will be awarded.
Nursery Field - 90 total points
The Nursery program showcases the ability of younger dogs in sheepdog work. The dog's third birthday must fall after July 1st of the current calendar year.
These dogs will still have 5 sheep set, however, you will notice the sheep are not set as far away as they are for open. The drive is also shorter and there is no shed element for nursery dogs.
The Outrun - 20 points
All handlers and dogs will start from the same location, known as the post. The sheep will be set in a common location by the set-out crew. The handler may send their dog to the left or right side of the field, but once the dog is sent in one direction, it should not cross the field to the other side of the sheep. The dog should run in a pear like shape, wide enough it doesn't disturb the sheep as it approaches, but not excessively wide either.
The Lift - 10 Points
The lift is the point of where the dog introduces itself to the sheep and makes that first move down the field. The dog should come into the sheep's bubble with confidence, but not diving in and sending the sheep fleeing. The dog should be in a location, such that the sheep begin their path straight to the handler.
The Fetch - 20 points
The straight line from the set-out point, through the fetch gates and to the handler is known as the fetch. Ideally the sheep should be marching along in a rhythmed jog, with the dog holding them to a straight line. At this point the judge just wants to see sheep noses coming straight at them.
The Shed* - 10 points
As the sheep enter the shedding ring, the handler will leave the post to go work with their dog to complete the shed. During the shed, the handler and dog are to separate 2 sheep from the remaining three. The dog is to take control of the 2 sheep, not letting them join back with the group, until the judge calls the shed good. This process must happen inside the shedding ring, the sheep may leave the ring once the dog has come through and taken control, but not before.
*You will not see this element being preformed in the Nursery Classes.
Open - Semi-Final Round - 110 total points
This round will still be comprised of 5 sheep, however, you will notice that two of the sheep will have red collars on them.
During the shed element of the course the handler must select 2 un-collared sheep to shed off and take control of. They will then move on and pen all 5 sheep. Once the pen is completed the will move onto a 7th element.
The Drive - 30 points
Once the sheep have turned the handler's post, the drive portion of the course begins. The drive is divided into 3 segments. The drive way, is where the dog is taking the sheep directly away from the handler and through the drive-away gate. Once they cross the plane of this gate, the handler will have the dog turn the sheep for the cross-drive segment. During the cross-drive the judge is looking to just see the sides of the sheep. After the plane of the cross-drive panels is broken, the final leg of the drive to the shedding ring or pen begins. During the drive the sheep should still be marching along. Too much stopping and going or running may upset the sheep, making them less cooperative and also result in points being deducted.
The Pen - 10 points
Once the sheep are regathered from the shed, the dog is to take the sheep to the pen. The handler will open the pen and must maintain contact with the rope that is attached to the gate. Both the dog and handler have a responsibility to keep the sheep from breaking around their side of the pen and to convince the sheep to enter. Watch out, too much pressure applied by the handler and dog will cause the sheep to feel trapped and make a break for it. The pen is completed once the gate is shut.
The Single - 10 points
After successfully penning the sheep, the dog will return the sheep to the shedding ring. At this point the handler and dog work as a team to shed off and take control of one of the collared sheep.