Petter Landfald, from Norway and his dog Max, were crowned World Champions at the World Sheepdog Trials last Saturday ( September 16).

The event took place at Gill Hall Estate in Co. Down over four days last week.

Organised by the International Sheep Dog Society, Petter went head-to-head with 16 of the world’s best sheepdogs and handlers over the first three days of qualifiers and emerged victorious, with an impressive score.

Meanwhile 17-year-old Tyler McKinlay, from Lanark, Scotland and her dog, Heatherstane Squiggle, were named Young Handler World Champions at the event.

This is the first year that the trials have had an all-female final in the junior competition.

The team event first prize went to the Irish grouping of: Martin O’Malley; Eamonn Connell; Allistair Lyttle; James McCloskey; and Paddy Fanning.

John McCullough, chairman of the World Trial Committee congratulated Petter and Tyler on their respective achievements.

“The standards shown at the trials this week have been exceptional so to walk away with world titles is certainly no mean feat. It was an absolute joy to watch Petter and Tyler in action in the competition field over the past few days,” he said.

“Hosting the World Sheepdog Trials at Gill Hall Estate in Dromore has been a privilege. We have welcomed approximately 30,000 spectators alongside 240 handlers from over 30 different countries over the past four days which has hugely boosted many local businesses and the wider economy.

“Northern Ireland has a rich farming history and we’re so proud to have contributed to this by bringing a once-in-a-lifetime event to our shores.

“We hope that everyone who attended throughout the week enjoyed witnessing the incredible partnership between sheepdogs and their handlers,” McCullough added.

Isabel Branch, CEO of the International Sheep Dog Society added: 

“The 2023 World Sheepdog Trials have been a huge success and on behalf of the committee, we are delighted.

“We have seen lots of tough competition and it’s a testament to farmers around the world who remain committed to preserving more traditional methods of farming and to promoting the very best in terms of breeding.

“Congratulations to Petter and Tyler on your world titles. Being crowned the best in the world at what’s known as the ‘Olympics’ of the sheepdog community, is a remarkable achievement.”

Allistair Lyttle from Kesh in Co. Fermanagh was a member of the successful Irish team. He is also a member of the committee that organised the entire Gill Hall event.

“It was a tremendous honour for Northern Ireland to host the 2023 World Championships. And Gill Hall was the perfect venue,” Lyttle said.

According to Lyttle, it took a tremendous, cooperative effort to get the entire competition over the line.

A case in point was the sourcing of 800 ewes from sheep producers across Northern Ireland.

Lyttle also confirmed that sheep dog trialling is extremely popular across the island of Ireland.

“Events are taking place around the country every week of the year,” he said.

“Up to 70 dogs could be taking part in each of these competitions, all of which will attract large crowds of spectators.”