Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge more than just a sheepdog herding event |

Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge more than just a sheepdog herding event

Jack Weinstein

Chuck Riley, of Bowie, Texas, and his dog, Moss, try to move a herd of sheep into a trailer during a demonstration at Sunday's Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge at the Stanko Ranch.
Matt Stensland

— Many of the spectators who attended the Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge were impressed with the border collies' ability to navigate sheep through several obstacles by listening to commands from their handlers in the field below.

Steamboat Springs residents Scott and Katy Tirone brought their children, 5-year-old Abby and 2-year-old Zach, to the seventh annual sheep herding trial, which continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Stanko Ranch. The ranch is about 3 1/2 miles from Bud Werner Memorial Library on Twentymile Road (Routt County Road 33).

The Tirones are no strangers to sheep herding trials, having attended the Stock Dog Challenge and the Meeker Classic, another trial, in the past. But they said the unusual event keeps bringing them back.

"I think it's interesting to see the dogs and the handlers and the training that must go into it," Katy Tirone said. "Especially at a ranch right here in Steamboat Springs is pretty cool."

Event organizer Mariane Sasak said the 86 entrants competing in the open and open ranch (intermediate) divisions exceeded last year's total. She said handlers brought dogs to compete in the event from across the country and Canada for the event, which started Saturday.

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Sasak said the combination of the spectator view overlooking the field from a hill, the play-by-play announcer explaining what's taking place, the food and other merchandise available, and the cost — it's free — make it "one of the nicest sheep trials in the Western U.S."

But she added that an important part of the Stock Dog Challenge for spectators was the education it provides.

"All the agriculture around here is disappearing," she said. "Our whole thing is about educating — agriculture, wool and sheep. Educating so this doesn't disappear."

The handlers also said the Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge's appeal to spectators and educational components make it attractive for them, as well.

"This is such a unique sport," said Terri Warner, of Cimarron. "It's so hard to find good local trials. It's very much appreciated. I love the fact that (Sasak) is trying to educate the public. It's amazing what these animals can do."

In addition to the value for spectators, the handlers also said Steamboat's event provided a good tune-up for this week's Meeker Classic and the Sept. 17 to 26 National Sheepdog Finals. Several said the use of range sheep, as opposed to farm sheep, made the event especially challenging.

Corey Perry traveled from Drayton Valley, Alberta, to compete with his two dogs, 5-year-old Jill in the open division and 3-year-old Cally in the open ranch division. Despite the wind, which made it difficult to relay commands to Jill on Sunday afternoon, Perry said he was impressed with his first Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge.

"I really enjoyed it, lots of fun, lots of good people," he said. "It's worth the 23-hour drive."

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail

Steamboat Stock Dog Challenge top results

Open Division

Place / Handler / Dog / Score

1 Sonia Craig / Walt / 85

2 Chuck Riley / Moss / 82

3 Daniel Keeton / Newby / 74

4 Emil Luedecke / Spot / 74

5 Cathy Balliu / Ben / 71

6 Keith Fassbender / Shep / 68

7 Corey Perry / Jill / 68

8 Karen Child / Jim / 67

9 Terry Folsom / Cassie / 65

10 Sandra Milberg / Quill / 62

Open Ranch Division

Place / Handler / Dog / Score

1 Nancy Penley / Hobbs / 73

2 Sandra Milberg / Brew / 72

3 Mariane Sasak / Dot / 70

4 Lise Andersen / Piper / 61

5 Dave Murray / Katie #2 / 58

6 Karen Child / Mollie / 57

7 Emil Luedecke / Hope / 54

8 Nancy Duley / Billie / 48

9 Shawn Casey / Maisey / 46

10 Elizabeth Baker / Soot / 45

Click here for full results.

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