I've just recently started herding with Czar and Jewel. I was very fortunate to have Debbie McCluske, Cheswood Farm here in my area and she has worked with Belgians in the past. I can't tell you how much fun it was to see my dogs "do" what they were originally bred to do. Plus they had a blast!!! I am very excited about herding it will be a great learning experience for me and the dogs.
Here is a very good explanation of Herding titles dogs can obtain through several different organizations by Linda Rorem.
American Kennel Club (AKC)
- Trial Program: At the trial level, numerical scoring and class placements are given, with a qualifying score required, similar to obedience competitions. For each of the three levels, three legs under three different judges are required. There are three standard courses. Legs for the same title may be earned on different types of stock and on different courses, and titles do not indicate on what type of stock or on what course the title was earned.
- HS-Herding Started. The started level.
- HI-Herding Intermediate. The intermediate level.
- HX-Herding Excellent. The advanced level.
- HCH-Herding Champion. After an advanced title has been completed, a dog may earn a championship by obtaining 15 points through placing at the advance level, as with the Obedience Trial Championship.
- Test program: At the test level, judging is on a pass/not pass basis, with no numerical scoring or class placements. Two legs are required for the titles, under two different testers. Legs for the same title may be earned on different types of livestock and titles do not indicate on what type or types of stock the title was earned.
- HT-Herding Tested. Simple passes across the small arena with a stop and recall. Both legs are identical. A little basic training is required.
- PT-Pre-trail Tested. The stock are taken around the arena through a simple course.
American Herding Breeds Association (AHBA)
- Trial Program: At the trial level, numerical scoring and class placements are given, with a qualifying score required, similar to obedience competitions. Two legs under two different judges are required for each of the three levels. Titles are earned separately for the different types of stock, with an initial after the title indicating the type of stock on which the title was earned. The three levels of HTD have standardized courses with free-standing obstacles. The three levels of HRD involve ranch and farm courses which vary individually in layout while meeting specified requirements.
- HTD I-Herding Trial Dog I. The started level, standard course.
- HTD II-Herding Trial Dog II. The intermediate level, standard course.
- HTD III-Herding Trial Dog III. The advanced level, standard course.
- HRD I, HRD II, HRD III-Herding Ranch Dog. Levels as above, earned separately on varying ranch/farm courses.
- HTCh.-Herding Trial Champion. After an advanced title has been completed, a dog may earn a championship by obtaining 10 scores of 80 or above at the advanced level.
- Test program: At the test level, judging is on a pass/not pass basis, with no numerical scoring or class placements. Legs for the same title may be earned on different types of stock, with small initials after the title indicating the type of stock on which the title was earned. Two legs are required for the titles, under two different testers.
- HCT-Herding Capability Tested. The first leg of the HCT may be a basic instinct test, with the tester handling the dog. The second leg requires a little additional training and consists of simples passes across the small arena with a stop and recall. For the second leg, as with all tests and trials other than the first leg of the HCT, the dog must be handled by the owner or a handler designated by the owner.
- JHD-Junior Herding Dog. The JHD also requires two legs, but the legs are identical. The stock are taken around the arena through a simple course.
Australian Shepherd Club of American (ASCA)
- At ASCA trials, numerical scoring and class placements are given, with a qualifying score required. Two legs under two different judges are required for each of the three levels. Titles are earned separately on each type of stock, with an initial after the title indicating the type of stock on which the title was earned, and may be earned on either or both of two slightly differing standard courses. ASCA has no testing program, but has a Ranch Dog Inspection program where a judge observes the dog at its regular work; if the dog passes the inspection, it earns the title Ranch Dog (RD). There is also a Ranch Trial Dog (RTD) title, earned on a ranch trial course which varies from place to place; a dog previously must have earned an OTD, ATD, or RD to compete in ranch trials.
- STD-Started Trial Dog. The started level.
- OTD-Open Trial Dog. The intermediate level.
- ATD-Advance Trial Dog. The advanced level.
- WTCh-Working Trial Champion. The championship is awarded when a dog has earned an advanced title on each of three types of stock (sheep, cattle and ducks)
- ATTEMPT: When the livestock crosses the plane of the obstacle.
- BALANCE: The point, usually opposite the handler, in which the dog has the most influence on the stock, to control the behavior of the stock and move them in the desired direction.
- COME-BYE/GO-BYE: A command to move the dog clockwise around the livestock - to circle to the left.
- COURSE: A designated pattern of obstacles through which a handler directs the dog.
- DRIVING: Moving the stock away from the handler. When driving, the dog is usually positioned between the stock and the handler.
- FETCHING: Moving the stock toward the handler. When fetching, the dog is usually positioned so that the stock are between it and the handler.
- FLANKING: Circling the sheep from the right or left to keep them in a group or change their direction.
- FLIGHT ZONE: An invisible area around a group of stock into which a dog cannot pass without causing the stock to feel threatened and attempt to escape from the dog.
- FLOCKING: The tendency of the stock to instinctively cluster together in a compact group that functions as a unit. Generally, cattle do not have a strong flocking tendency.
- GATHER: The dog collects the sheep from their scattered grazing positions into a compact group.
- GRAZE: Allowing the stock time to settle and feed in a designated area.
- HANDLER'S POST: Point at which the handler and dog begin the run.
- HEAVY STOCK: Stock that requires a great deal of pressure from the dog in order to be moved.
- HERDING INSTINCT: The inherited balance in a dog's temperament, between the predatory drive and the dog's submission to its master. The stronger the herding instinct, the stronger must be the desire to comply with the commands of the handler.
- HOLDING PEN: The pen on the outside of the course where the stock are kept before and after their use on the course.
- LIFT: The moment the dog reaches the opposite side of the stock and moves them directly toward the handler. Also, the moment between the outrun and start of the fetch.
- LIGHT STOCK: Stock that are moved with slight pressure from the dog and have a flight zone a substantial distance from them.
- OBSTACLES: Objects placed in strategic locations to make up a trial course.
- OFF CONTACT: When the dog loses control of the stock, either by being too far away or by losing concentration.
- OUTRUN/CAST: The dog runs in an arc to move from the handler to the balance point on the far side of the stock in order to move the stock back to the handler. A pear-shaped or semi-circular course taken by the dog to get to the far side of the flock without alarming them.
- PEN/RE-PEN: To put the stock into a specified holding area.
- PENALTIES (To be noted in the Judges' Book):
- RETIRE: At the request of the handler, the run is ended.
- REMOVE FROM THE RING: A Judge's decision to end the run because the dog is lame, sick, unproductive, etc.
- EXCUSE: A Judge's decision to end the run because the dog is attacking or attempting to attack the stock or gripping abusively. A separate report is made to AKC when a dog is excused. When a dog has been excused three times, the owner is advised by AKC that the dog is no longer eligible to be entered in AKC Herding events until the dog has been successfully re-evaluated.
- DISQUALIFIED: A Judge's decision to end the run because the dog has attacked or attempted to attack a person. A dog which is disqualified is no longer eligible to enter any AKC event, and the dog is not eligible to be entered unless and until, following application by the owner to The American Kennel Club, the owner has received official notification that the dog's eligibility has been reinstated.
- PRESSURE/POWER: The influence of the dog's presence on the stock. The authority of the dog's character. The extent of this latent force within a dog will determine the behavior of stock and their flight zone for that particular dog.
- PRESSURE POINT: The exact position and distance the dog needs to be at in order to move livestock in the desired direction. This position is directly influenced by the livestock's natural inclination to be drawn to the pen from which they were released, a gate to pasture, a known food source, other livestock or a water source if they are thirsty.
- READ: The ability of the handler to understand and anticipate the thoughts of the stock and/or the dog in order to maintain control over both. The ability of the dog to anticipate the behavior of the stock.
- RUN: Each individual dog's trial performance.
- SETTLE: Allowing the stock time to calm and adjust to the situation.
- SHED: The dog separating the livestock and holding a group or individual for a specific length of time. Separating certain animals from the flock or herd.
- TENDING: The supervision of the flock by the dog while the flock is grazing. A style of herding used when pastures are unfenced and the dog serves as a living fence.
- THAT WILL DO: The command releasing the dog from his work.
- WALK ON: A command for the dog to walk toward the sheep.
- WAY TO ME: A command to move the dog counter-clockwise around the livestock - to circle to the right.
- WEARING: When the dog holds the flock up against the handler by running back and forth on the opposite side. The dog will bring the sheep after the handler wherever the handler walks without additional commands. It is also used to mean holding back animals that have been separated from the main flock.