National Trials are held by the Society annually each summer in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
During the three days of the National Trials, handlers will run 150 dogs over the course. Each handler can enter a maximum of three dogs, but only two of these may run, the third being an ‘alternate’ dog who may be substituted for one of the two. The handler’s aim is to gain a place in their National Team to represent their Nation at the Society’s annual International Trial. Each National Team has 15 places and one reserve place, so competition is fierce.
National Trials are run over a 400 yard course with five sheep, containing the standard elements (activities) of:
Two judges score each of the elements that the dog completes, allowing a maximum time of 15 minutes to complete all of the tasks.
The maximum points achievable (for the perfect run) is 220 points.
Additionally there will be a Brace (doubles) competition, where handlers will run two dogs, working with twice the number of sheep. The same tasks are required as for those of the singles, and judges will be award points in the same way.