Professional Dog Trials
Trial Contact: Clint Johnson (541) 815-9969
RANCHERS & THEIR DOGS
Have you ever seen a rancher that didn’t have at least one dog in the back of the pickup or on the back of his four-wheeler? I haven’t.
Ranchers have used dogs to help on the ranch with daily activities for hundreds of years. Not only are they great companions and the best co-worker you will ever find, but they can accomplish jobs with moving livestock around the ranch in less time and with less help. For the past many years the cow dog industry has been evolving with new training methods that are making a good cow dog even more valuable.
Clint Johnson was raised on a ranch in Eastern Oregon and always had dogs around, but he never knew how much more they could do. When he joined his wife’s family ranch his mother-in-law was training
registered border collies, it intrigued him and increased his desire to learn more about raising and training dogs. He and the other family members on the ranch continue to learn more training practices and use their dogs on a daily basis on the ranch. “A good dog can replace 3-4 guys on horseback” he stated as he talked about the many dogs on the ranch. The even more fun part to training and raising dogs is the competition side of trialing. Dog trials have been around for hundreds of years. Similar to how rodeo evolved taking ranch tasks and creating a competition to see who was the best at the task, handlers have taken their ranch dogs and showcase them at trials to show who can use their dog to complete obstacles by maneuvering cattle similar to how they do on the ranch, the fastest. Most trials are held in an arena setting with obstacles, typically created using panels, that you must move a set of 3-5 head of cows through using your dog. Most competitions have a time limit in which you must complete the course and you earn points based on your ability to complete the obstacles. It can showcase the amazing training that handlers do with their dogs and the skills that dogs have beyond what most people realize.
“I took my first dog training clinic from Robyn Brown many years ago. I saw what her dogs could do and it enthused me.” stated Clint. While there are many breeds of working dogs out there Clint raises and trains registered border collies. They are very intelligent dogs that are capable of helping move livestock in a manner that most people don’t understand. I want my dogs to work cows the way I work cows with pressure and release. Too many people confuse bite with power. Often dogs with the most bite have very little power. Power is the ability to get cattle to do what you want. A truly powerful dog can do that without using their bite. Now don’t get me wrong, said Clint, I am not against a dog having bite and it is needed in many situations. However, most dogs bite out of fear or adrenaline. I want my dogs to bite with control.” For years Clint and his family have raised and trained cow dogs to work on the ranch and help with managing their cow herd. With trialing growing in popularity, it has only encouraged handlers to take their training to the next level. To see the pa1tnership between a handler and their dog when they work a common goal is an amazing thing to watch.
Events such as the Red Bluff Bull & Gelding Sale and the Pendleton Cattle Barons which both include a working dog trial and dog sale have helped grow the value of the working cow dog across the industry. The love for dogs and competition is what has brought together, either on the ranch or at a trial, to complete brought Clint Johnson to hosting the Huckleberry Mountain Invitational Dog Trial. He hosted his first trial in 2018 at the ranch in the same horseback pasture style this one will be. “I wanted a trial that was more real world and not in an arena.” He held that trial two years in a row. He stated how much fun everyone had and what a success it was. “My experience as a bull rider for many years of my life attending high level eve11ts and my love for competition is what has brought me to want to bring the opportunity for that same level of competition to dog trialing. There is a significant cost to traveling to attend trials just like any other sporting event which creates a barrier for many top handlers to travel for far off events. This is why I want to create a large paying event that can make it desirable for handlers to attend. My goal is to gather the best handlers from around the Nation or even World which is going to create an amazing show to watch and a whole new level of competition.” Clint stated he is excited about this event and what he hopes it will add to the cow dog industry. He expects the event to take multiple years to grow to the level he has in mind. The event will be held in Sumpter, Oregon on June 12th and 13th. He would like to urge handlers to enter and showcase their dogs and encourage spectators to come watch. “I especially encourage ranchers, those that use and don’t use dogs, to come watch the event. Many people think that a trial doesn’t require the same things of a dog as daily ranch work, but I have to say they are wrong. The same things that make a successful trial dog make an exceptional ranch dog” stated Johnson. For those that can’t attend the event, it will posted to our website.