FUW supports Welsh team at National Sheepdog Trials

QUALIFIED: FUW president Glyn Roberts, right, with Medwyn Evans

QUALIFIED: FUW president Glyn Roberts, right, with Medwyn Evans

What does it take to be top-dog at sheepdog trialling? Some will say attention to detail, being perceptive, flexible, calm and collective – and yes, all of those skills were on display at the Welsh National Sheepdog trials at the end of July and saw an exceptional group of people and their dogs qualify for the International team. You also need to have a good command, great bond between the dog and handler and of course understanding the behaviour of sheep and dogs. the Welsh National trial was hosted by the Williams family, who moved to tyfos, Corwen, over 100 years ago. During the three day event, handlers ran 150 dogs over the course, with the aim to gain a place on the National team to represent their nation at the Society’s annual International trial. throwing its support behind such a talented group of people was the FUW, by sponsoring the official Welsh team jackets for the for the International Sheepdog trials, (September 9-11) at Sandilands Farm, tywyn, Gwynedd. the jackets were presented to the newly qualified Welsh team at the end of the National trial by FUW president Glyn Roberts. Qualifying to represent Wales at the International trials were Medwyn Evans with Mac, 210 (run-off 202); Kelvin Broad with Kinloch Levi, 209 (run-off 196); Medwyn Evans with Meg, 202 (run-off 194); alan Jones with Spot, 208; Sophie holt with hybeck Blake, 206; Richard Millichap with Sweep, 196; Kevin Evans with Kemi Ross, 206; Llyr Evans with Zac, 204; alwyn Williams with Max, 198; Gethin Jones with Maddie, 202; Glyn Jones with Roy, 202; aled Owen with Llangwm Cap, 196; Ross Games with Roy, 202; Richard Millichap with Don, 196; Kevin Evans with Preseli Ci, 194 and Reserve angie Driscoll with Kinloch Pippi,196. “Each National team has 15 places and one reserve place, so competition was fierce. the 15 team members representing each of the four home countries will compete at the International trial, and the best 15 overall competitors from all countries will rerun on the final day in the Supreme Championship to select the International Champion,” said FUW president Glyn Roberts. Meirionnydd Farming Con- nect development officer Eryl Roberts, who has been involved in sheepdog trials for over 30 years and was one of the two judges at the National trials, spoke to us about what he thinks sets the Welsh team apart from other competitors. he said: “the Welsh team has got everything it takes to win. the handlers and dogs in the Welsh team have skill, experience, youth, the female factor and much more. “Of course there are numer- ous challenges and pitfalls that they will need to overcome to ensure Wales is the country that wins at the International. “the International trials Course in towyn is very challenging and gruelling, with a large area of land to negotiate, the dogs will have to be capable of being directed to the sheep, rather than depending on field boundaries. “the distance in itself will be a challenge and of course the weather will play a large part in the running and quality of runs, which can have a magnitude effect on such long distances in bad weather. the Welsh Mountain sheep have their own distinct characters. “Sheepdog trialling is loaded with obstacles, complications and impediments. apart from the weather there are numerous challenges outside your control. the pull of the sheep, amongst other things, can be unpredictable and spontaneous. as with everything there is an element of luck but as the saying goes ‘Diligence is the mother of good luck’.” In 2015, FUW member aled Owen of Corwen won the Welsh National, and went on to become the Supreme Champion in Moffat, Dumfries. this year, the Welsh National trial was won by Medwyn Evans with Mac, earning him the role as Welsh team captain at the International trials. Eryl has every faith in Medwyn as team captain, saying: “Medwyn has been the Welsh captain several times and his enormous experience of dealing with Welsh Mountain sheep on the Nannau Estate will put him in good stead for the challenges ahead. “he has a team of experienced and perceptive handlers that will endeavour to do their utmost best as solo competitors and also as Welsh team members.” Looking forward to the International’s, Medwyn Evans, who started competing in local trials at the age of 17 but only started trialing seriously in 1995, said: “the biggest challenge for me will be getting the dogs behind their sheep without them going too wide in the qualifying. the Welsh team should have the advantage of working on the lighter Welsh ewes, so fingers crossed for us in September.” So how is the Welsh team captain going to prepare himself for the next challenge? “time permitting I would like to send my dogs out on big patches of land with other sheep in the middle of the patch, but I have not finished the harvest or shearing yet,” he added. Giving a word of advice to the next generation of sheepdog trial champions, Medwyn says: “to be a good dog handler being able to train a dog is a necessity and being able to anticipate the sheep’s next move. You have to watch carefully how the best handlers handle their dogs and the timing of the commands.” FUW president Glyn Roberts, who attended the National trials, said: “We enjoyed three very successful days at tyfos. the competition was intense and I must congratulate all those who have qualified for the Welsh team. “the motto of the Welsh football team was “Gorau Chwarae Cyd Chwarae” – “Stronger together” and if we adopt that same mindset, especially looking at the standard of our team and how well they work with their dogs, I have no doubt that they will do well in September and I wish them all the best.”

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