Neighboring Valley Center will be the location for a unique event during the Memorial Day weekend.
Valley Center Days will host a South West Qualifying Trial for the Western Cattledog Challenge, under the auspices of the National Cattledog Association.
Although it will be held at the rodeo grounds near Lilac Road & Valley Center Road, the sponsor is Valley Center Days.
The qualifying trial will happen in Ramona on May 29 and in Valley Center on May 30.
The mission of the National Cattledog Association is to encourage efficient, low stress and humane cattle handling by promoting the use and demonstrating the value of well-trained cattledogs.
Cattledogs include the following breeds (although this is not an exhaustive list):
Australian shepherds and border collies, Border Collie, McNab, Australian Working Collie, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Working Kelpie, Catahoula, Black Mouth Cur and more.
In this event some of the top herding dogs in the United States and Canada will compete, with the smart canines coming from states such as Wyoming and Nebraska. The dog handlers and the dogs will compete for cash prizes and points in the national contest, which will end later this June. The NCA Finals are in Meeker Colorado, June 15-19.
Spectators watch the canny cattle dogs in action as they herd 800-pound cattle through a series of obstacles. People who watch are often amazed at how skillful and focused the dogs are.
Dogs qualify for the NCA National Finals by earning points in NCA sanctioned trials throughout the year. Each dog must gather three head of cattle and run them through a set of obstacles. The handlers, who are on horseback or afoot, whistle signals to the dogs as they maneuver the cattle through the course. The dogs use eye contact with the cattle and body positions to move the herd. Points are earned by completing the course and by completing it within a certain time.
The first trial will be held Sunday, May 29 in Ramona and the final trial will be held Monday on the rodeo grounds (the Belanich property), next door to VC Community Center on Lilac Road. Trials begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue most of the day until around 4 p.m. It costs $5 to enter. Military members and family are free.
Classes run will be Open, Nursery, Intermediate, and Novice. Dogs will be required to fetch and gather three head of cattle and run them through a set of obstacles, with the handlers being on foot or on horseback. Points will be tallied on both completion of the obstacles and on the time required to complete the obstacles. There is $2,000 added purse money, to the handlers of the winning dogs.
Sponsors of the event are John Yeager of Summit Mortgage and Larry McKenzie of The Broker Network.