An Accumulation of Nations

Thomas Gilholm, a founder of the ISDSThe International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) was formed in July 1906 at a meeting in Haddington, East Lothian; but it is unlikely that those revered founders had the vision of what their creation might become. At the very beginning, it was Scottish sheep men from the Borders region who formed a committee and organised the first trial, at Gullane by the Firth of Forth in August 1906. This trial included handlers from across the borders in Northern England. Hence, the ‘International trial’ and thus an ‘International Society’ was born.

In the nine years to 1914 the ISDS continued to be small society that was based around those regions of Scotland and Northern England. Seven of the trials were in Scotland and two in England. Membership was 2s.6d. (two shillings and six pence, or half-a-crown) and the number of members never exceeded 100.

Meanwhile, sheepdog trialling was just as active in other areas of Britain. At the 1921 Ayr International two gentlemen who represented Welsh sheepdog trialling, Captain Whittaker and The Honorable E L Mostyn, came to observe. This led to an invitation to hold the 1922 International in Criccieth, Wales and to make Wales the third nation of the International Society.

The Society then flourished and grew as a three-nation body for forty years. Northern Ireland joined in 1961 and Eire in 1965, leading to the establishing of Ireland as the fourth nation-member of the ISDS.

In the 1980’s there was much more interest in sheepdog trialling across Continental Europe and many joined the ISDS as Overseas members. However, it was not until 2004 that the first nation beyond ‘the four home nations’ joined as an Associate. Today, we count Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the Faroes, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and The Netherlands as Associate member nations.