ALLEN Valleys farmer David Henderson and his star sheepdog, appropriately named Star, has travelled the world competing in sheepdog trials.

Having represented England in two international trials, the pinnacle in terms of competing, and the world trials in Holland, and with more than 40 open trial victories to their names, the duo are a force to be reckoned with in the world of sheepdog trialling.

The success tasted by David is a far cry from his debut in the field around seven years ago when he entered his dog Ken into the show at Alston.

He said: “It was very daunting before I started, but once I got going, the dog worked really well and handled really well. But, we just couldn’t get the sheep in the pen.

“Ken wasn’t used to it because nobody would have made him put sheep in a pen in the middle of a field.

“It seemed like, for a lifetime, the sheep were just going around the pen because Ken and I didn’t grasp the concept of getting the sheep in the pen, and I think the sheep took pity on us and just ran into the pen in the end.

“That was a huge eye opener. I realised standing there in the field that the dog wasn’t trained to do what was asked, and it was like trying to fix something using the wrong tools.”

The experience made David even more determined to succeed, and he went about training his latest home-bred dog, Star.

The progress was rapid, and it wasn’t before long that the pair were competing for the country’s top honours.

David said: “When I started with her, I was a complete novice but it didn’t stop Star doing well, and she has carried me through it and I have gained a lot of experience through her. She has put me on the map really, and opened up so many doors for me.

“To compete in the international sheepdog trials is massive, and it’s one of the longest running trials in the world, and I feel lucky to have been selected.”

Growing up on the family farm, David had always taken an interest in bloodlines, primarily in sheep.

But, when he was 16, he bought his first dog, Flame, with the intention of breeding.

He started to train dogs for trials when Mist came along from Flame, but it wasn’t until Ken, born of Mist, that he started to take part in competitions.

David said: “I always wanted a dog but was never allowed one growing up, probably because my parents thought I wouldn’t do anything with it and they would end up looking after it.

“But through my own interest and determination, I would get up before school and getting my brother to take me up to a field where I would try to train this dog, even though I didn’t know what I was doing.”

When David showed an interest in sheepdog trials, he found there was a lot of support and advice available to him, particularly in the form of experienced trialsman, Alex Watson.

Soon, it was to take over all his spare time, and he and Star started to become forces to be reckoned with.

“It’s something you have to be dedicated to. I run a small farm with 350 ewes, and alongside that I put all my time into the dogs, raising pups and going on to train them for farm work.

“If they have more potential, you train them for trials, and the best of them go as far as Star.

“Trialling isn’t about the lifestyle, and it’s not for the faint hearted.

“You have to be committed to do it and want to be out there in the field in all weathers.”

David’s pedigree in breeding and competing with sheepdogs saw him invited to appear on BBC programme The Farmers’ Country Showdown in January.

The show followed David and Northallerton shepherdess Brenda Swinbank ahead of competition at the Powburn Trials, one of the country’s oldest sheepdog trials.

David said: “I was lucky enough to win the overall trial and come away with the trophy.

“It was nice and will be a memorable way to look back at the day, and remember her for years to come.”