While the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo has its fair share of bulls, broncs, and cattle, it is a smaller breed of animal that often wows audiences with their high IQ.
Sheepdogs are a draw for many rodeo fans hoping to see man’s best friends doing what they do best.
"They're very smart dogs – workaholics,” said Jesus Montemayor, a handler of four sheepdogs.
Sheepdogs are, in fact, bred to be workaholics, he said, and often have an unbridled passion to herd.
"She works the kids, she works the cat, she works anything," said Montemayor.
Montemayor’s young sheepdog Grace showed off her skills during the Sheepdog Trials Monday at the Stock Show and Rodeo, a fan-favorite.
All the dogs competing were Border Collies. Handlers and their dogs had to herd sheep through a specified course before forcing them into a pen. The fastest times were rewarded with a cash prize.
The trials are often a family affair, with many of the handlers and dogs making the rodeo circuit.
"We have husbands competing against wives and in some cases, sons against mothers,” said Jerry Lynch, who announces for the competition.
Few are more familiar with sheepdog trials than veteran E.B. Raley of Crawford, Texas.
"The dogs are trained to work on both voice and whistle commands,” said Raley, who showed off his 9-year-old Border Collie, Ruby.
After a heart attack in 1980, Raley stepped away from everyday work to reduce stress, and into sheepdog competitions.
"I thought, well, if I could get a sheepdog I could compete with in a trial, that'd give me a diversion," said Raley.
Raley has not looked back since. The competition also continues to grow as fans appreciate the passion and skill of man’s best friend.
"They love people and they love what they do, they really do,” added Lynch.