I live in Killorglin, Co Kerry. I’m 16 and going into sixth year in Killorglin Community College. I’m competing this weekend in the Irish National Sheepdog Trials.

They’re taking place in Killarney from 5-7 August. For this competition they take the top five dogs from each day.

So then there’s 15 dogs overall and they’re the National Irish Team.

For the National you had to do other trials and gain points from those to qualify. There’s a certain amount of points you need to get into the National, so to qualify I had to do other open trials that were on around the country.

I was 10 when I did my first trials, so I’ve been doing them for six years. In 2019, when I was 14, I went to Scotland to represent Ireland in BBC Countryfile’s One Man and his Dog. I was the highest emerging young handler.

Tara Foley's dog's name is Sky. \ Valerie O'Sullivan

At a sheepdog trials the dog has to go out to the bottom of the field and bring the sheep straight up to you. Then they have to go between two gates, they go around you then, in through another set of gates and another set of gates. You’ve to shed the sheep too, which is like splitting them in half, basically, or taking out a certain amount. You finish by penning them.

To go to their right you’d be saying “away” to the dog and left is “come by”. Then it’s just “lie down” and “walk on”. They’re the main commands you’d use.

My dog’s name is Sky. She’s a good dog in my opinion anyway. She does work around the farm as well as the competitions. She does it all really.

My dad got me into doing the sheepdog trials. He passed away in 2018

I’ve had her for four years. We got her from Wales when she was two. For something like the National you’d be practising everyday really.

My dad got me into doing the sheepdog trials. He passed away in 2018. We’ve a sheep farm. There are some ewes up on the hill and there are some with their lambs down on the lowland.

I like working around the farm now to be fair. It’s different, I guess, and it’s entertaining.

Sky had a pup recently enough, so I’ll have to train her myself

You’d definitely want a good dog for the hills. It’d be hard to work it without one. You’d be doing a lot of running.

Sky had a pup recently enough, so I’ll have to train her myself. We called the pup Amháin, because she was just one pup on her own. I’m an only child as well, so we’re both amháins.

She kind of started training there when she was around three or four months. Every dog is different with how long it would take them to be trained, but by the time they’re a year they’d have the most of it. They’d have the commands.

I think for a good dog you need both breeding and training really. No matter how much breeding is in them, if you’re not going to train them properly then they’re not going to be good enough. So you need both.

I suppose training a dog is a hard skill really, because it takes a long time to get them to actually do it and then to trust you and like you as well.

Irish National Sheepdog Trials

The Irish National Sheepdog Trials will take place this weekend from 7-5 August in Killalee, Fossa, Killarney, Co Kerry (the Gap of Dunloe Road). The use of the ground was given courtesy of the Europe Hotel.

It will see 150 of the country’s top handlers compete to be crowned the much-coveted National Champion of Ireland.

The event will also select 15 competitors to represent Ireland in the International Sheepdog Trials later this year.

Up to 500 people will be able to attend the trials. This includes competitors and those working on site. While everyone is welcome, if capacity is met, entry will be denied until capacity is reduced again.

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