The Growth of Trials

The International trial was a simple Scottish Borders trial that continued from 1906 to 1914. The First World War of 1914-1918 soon brought an end to many social and rural events and this included sheepdog trialling. In 1919 the International trial recommenced and interest grew so rapidly that in 1921 National trials for Scotland and England had to be established as qualifying events.

In 1922 Wales had joined the International trial and in 1926 it became a three-day event. At this time, all the National trials were one-day events, then they became two-day by 1927 as their popularity grew. By the 1930’s there was great public interest in sheep dog trialling and in 1932 a big trial was held in Hyde Park, London.

The greatest handler of all time must be J M Wilson. Pictured here with the two championship dogs of 1928 and 1930 he went on to win the International a total of nine times, the last being in 1955. The war in 1939 again brought trialling to a halt. Work recommenced in 1946 and interest soon recovered. In 1949 there were trials again in Hyde Park, this time sponsored by the Daily Express who reported crowds of “200,000 citizens held silent … at an event which has neither balls, bats, bookies nor blows”.

Interest in the Nationals also grew because by 1951 there were problems with them being oversubscribed. Some Nationals ran over 2½ days in 1964 and in 1965 the three British Nationals were three-day events. By 1980 there were 212 entrants to the English National (today it is 150) and it had to run over four days. This was too much for the organisers and things had to change and so in 1982 a system of totalling the qualifying points from local trials was adopted as a way of limiting the entry.