For quite a long time now, I have been of the belief that sheepdog trialing is very similar to golf.
From Wiki: According to the most widely accepted account, however, the modern game originated in Scotland around the 12th century, with shepherds knocking stones into rabbit holes on the current site of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
So, you see, it is *a bit* steeped in history. Anyway, I do, on occasion watch golf on the television and am enthralled by the players you generally see on the leader board- Els, Woods, Michelson (well, he's a choker, but we still love him), Singh, Harrington (the Irishman himself).
These top players are not there by chance. They are there through plain hard work, determination, dedication, and true grit. Just like the Alisdairs, Lamberts, Millikens, and all the westerners I can't think of the names of!
The parallels as I see them:
The course- same for handler and golfer- you get there, you suss it out and you use your guile to determine just how you will handle it dog or ball.
The swing- that's pretty much the dog in golf. You need a good versatile swing- and dog. Strong, but gentle when needed.
The club? That's the handling. The golfer who is on top simply knows what club will work where, and how to use it to it's utmost advantage. Same for the sheepdog handler.
The holes? Of course they are the obstacles. You need serious control on your swing, and club to make an eagle, and you surely need the same to accomplish the same goal in sheepdog trials.
Then, there's the 18th hole. The end. The last hole to seal the deal. You better bring your A game. For sheepdog trialing, that happens at. every. single. step. of the trial.
Golf is only for seriously dedicated, some would say obsessed, people who record every single game, and look only to improve, no matter HOW good. Same for sheepdog trialing.
So, the next time you are chatting with friends who don't know what sheepdog trialing is about, tell them it's just like Golf. They will get the message.