Dry cornstalks rustling in the wind provided a perfect background sound for the Great Plains Bearded Collie Club of Omaha’s all-breed herding tests and trials held Friday–Sunday, October 9, 10, and 11. Ann Witte’s Gaelyn Glen Farm in Springfield, Nebraska, has been host to AKC herding trials for many years as she steered and showcased the Bearded Collie’s herding abilities.

Judging were JoAnna Yund, from Minnesota, on Friday, and George “Rusty” Jeffers, from California, on Saturday and Sunday.

In attendance were not only Beardies but also Working Kelpies, Boxers (approved in 2012 to compete in AKC herding events), Corgis, Belgian Tervuren, and other breeds working goats, sheep, and ducks. With nine AKC herding judges at the event this year helping with stock handling, competing with their dogs, and otherwise participating, the number of people on hand with great expertise in herding made for spirited conversation and camaraderie.

As the local trial season in this part of the country comes to an end, the three-day weekend provided competitors with an opportunity to assess their training skills and see where they need to improve. —Sunny DeYoung


Border Collie in field

All photos courtesy Sunny DeYoung


The Great Plains Bearded Collie Club held its first meeting on September 4, 1986, and was incorporated in February 1988. We began as a body of Beardie owners and lovers who wanted to share experiences and assist others with the dogs. It didn’t take long for the group to discover how much fun they and their dogs had doing what the breed does naturally: herding.

The club sponsored its first instinct tests in October 1986 at Ann and Harry Witte’s Gaelyn Glen Farm, southwest of Papillion, Nebraska. Little did the members know then what grand adventures this would lead to. The club’s first AKC-licensed herding tests and trials were held in March 1990.

The club offers a weekend all-breed herding trial each year in October. In addition, since 1998, every year we host our Beardie Clan Ceilidh, which is three days of AKC tests and trials for Beardies only.

These herding events have been extremely beneficial to the Bearded Collie breed. They have shown the natural instinct and talent our modern Beardies have in doing what the breed was originally developed to do.

The club has come a long way since our first herding events. At our silver (25th) anniversary trial in March 1996, a Beardie bred by one of our members was High in Trial. With their dogs, club members have earned the most herding titles within the breed nationwide, including three AKC Herding Champions, two ASCA WTCHs, and many HX titles. To date, our club has hosted more AKC-licensed herding events than any other club in the United States.

In addition, club members Carol Sirrine and Brian Wistrom’s Ch. “Lauren,” HIAs, and Ch. “Linus,” HSAsM, have won High in Trial at the Bearded Collie Club of America’s national-specialty herding trials, and Harry and Ann Witte’s Ch./HC “Robin” was Reserve High in Trial at a BCCA national. Carol Sirrine and Brian Wistrom’s Ch. “Leo,” HXAs, HIBs, won Reserve High in Trial and two championship points at the 2014 BCCA national. Plus, their dog Ch. “Linus,” HSAsM, is the one of the first Bearded Collies to win the AKC Masters title in herding, and at the 2013 BCCA national specialty he won HIT on sheep. Based on his performance he also was the recipient of the Chip (Thrills) Herding Award and the Boone Award. Leo was also top herding dog in Advanced for 2014 on sheep for A course.

In the interest of assisting novices in training their Beardies for herding competition, the GPBCC has produced two professional videos: Getting To Know Ewe II (1997), and Dancing Sheep to Sheep; Ewesful Tips for Herding (2002), which are available for purchase through the GPBCC website. We have brought our years of experience training Beardies (and our sense of humor) to the production of these videos.

We have an auction at our Ceilidh event and donate 25 percent of the proceeds to Beardie rescue. We have also been able to make other donations to this important endeavor from time to time. Most recently a donation was made in October 2014.

In 2005 we hosted the BCCA national specialty events in Omaha, to the delight of all who attended. We had a special dinner honoring the pioneers of the breed and held three full days of herding.

Our members are involved in a variety of activities with their Beardies, including agility,pet therapy, conformation, and obedience.

Our foremost intention is the preservation of true herding ability in purebred, AKC-registered Beardies who fit the breed standard. Our success is proven in the numbers; over half of the Beardies with AKC trial titles are also show champions.

—Information from the Great Plains Bearded Collie Club website

Top photo and all photos in article courtesy Sunny DeYoung

For more information on Bearded Collies, visit the websites of the AKC and the Bearded Collie Club of America.

To find out about herding trials and other AKC events in your area, check out the AKC Event Calendar.

Enjoy more herding event coverage: Herding Dogs and Their Owners Enjoy a Weekend of Fun and Training

VIDEO of Bearded Collies in Scotland, working with Border Collies in moving 1,000 sheep: