A FARMER who has herded sheep on his family farm near Corwen since he was 13-years-old is set to take the lead for Wales in the agricultural sport.

Arwyn Davies, 25, has been named as the youngest ever Welsh International Sheep Dog team captain following an outstanding performance at the Welsh National Trials in Carmarthenshire this month.

Mr Davies, who was taught to herd sheep by his father on their farm in Brynegwlys, where they continue to rear sheep and cows, modestly said he was “lucky” to beat the 150 competitors and win the prestigious event. However he has put in years of practice, in the evenings after a long day’s work on the farm and at trials in Corwen, Llangollen and Bala where he qualified for the national event.

“Growing up on the farm I used to watch my dad sheepherding and always had an interest in it, and then it was passed on to me,” Mr Davies said.

“It is hard to control the dog and takes a lot of patience and time, especially to get to trial standard where you have to be polished. It takes a huge amount of dedication but you have to enjoy it.”

In the national trial on August 2-4, the herders had to command their dog to fetch five sheep and turn them around, pass through gates and fields, draw the ewes out of the pack, and guide the sheep into a shed.

While the sport may seem obscure to some, it is based on the agricultural practice of sheep herding used by farmers around the world. The practice requires a breed of dog that has historically been used to herd sheep, which are typically named after their country of origin, such as the Welsh sheepdog, border collie, German shepherd, Catalan sheepdog and Australian shepherd.

Mr Davies has four female dogs because he finds that they are more obedient than males but he claims his luck on the day came in the form of the fluffy white sheep.

“The sheep I had were relaxed and quiet, which made them easier to herd, whereas there were a few sheep elsewhere that were lively. It can depend on how good your sheep are at the trials.”

But the accolade of being the captain of the Welsh team is not earned lightly and Mr Davies will now represent the country at the annual International Trials in Scotland in September, when he will face teams from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

He already has international experience having visited countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain and Holland to stage training sessions and judge in trials.

“There are different factors in each country,” Mr Davies said. “Wales tends to be hilly whereas many countries abroad are quite flat, and herders who visit Wales tend to get a bit lost. Sheep abroad can also be a lot heavier, which poses a different challenge.

“There is a huge difference in level between the national and international trials. I would like to win there but it could take 10 years, 50 years or never because the quality is supreme.

“It does depend on your luck on the day and it will be a massive step.”

For more information about the sheep dog trials and societies in Wales, visit www.welshnationalsheepdogtrials.org.uk