This article is from the American Kennel Club FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
My thanks to Lily Mummert for the information in this section.
In general, for herding tests:
* Dogs have to be 9 months old to compete in AKC herding events.
* A dog is not required to have an HT before competing in Pre-Trial,
or to have either test title before competing in trial classes.
Testing is recommended, however.
* Not all herding events are listed in the Gazette currently, but an
updated list is sent out with each issue of the Herdsman (the AKC
herding newsletter). The reason the info isn't in the Gazette is
because of its long lead time. The AKC is trying to modify the
publication schedule of the events calendar so they can get
herding event info in there in a more timely fashion.
HT: Herding Tested
PT: Pre-trial Tested
HS: Herding Started
HI: Herding Intermediate
HX: Herding Excellent
HCH: Herding Trial Champion
Test classes: herding and pre-trial. These are pass/fail. If your dog
passes two herding tests under two different judges, it earns the HT
(Herding Tested) title. Similarly, the dog earns the PT (Pre-Trial
Tested) for passing two pre-trial tests under two different judges.
For both classes, you get 10 minutes to negotiate the course.
Herding test elements:
* a sit or down stay at the start,
* controlled movement of the stock between two pylons, located at
opposite ends of the ring. Includes two changes in direction.
* stop and recall at the end
Pre-trial test elements:
* a stay at the start controlled movement of stock, including a
change of direction and passage through four gates
* a stop at some point on the course
* a stop before penning the stock
* penning the stock
Trial classes: herding started, intermediate, and advanced. The titles
associated with each of these levels are HS (Herding Started), HI
(Herding Intermediate), and HX (Herding Excellent). For each of these
titles, the dog must earn three qualifying scores in the appropriate
class under three different judges. There's also the HCH (Herding
Champion), which is a competition title -- the dog must have an HX,
and then earn 15 championship points in the Advanced class.
There are three courses that may be offered for each class. The
premium list for a trial specifies which course(s) will be offered.
Course A is in an arena. Course B is a modified ISDS course; it's in a
field. Course C is a modified version of what is used in Europe; it
includes negotiating roads and such.
According to my instructors, Course A is the most widely used of the
three, so I'll describe that one. You get 10 minutes on this course,
regardless of class. For herding started, the dog lifts the stock at
the top of the course, and moves them through four obstacles around
the course in a predetermined order. The obstacles are chutes or gates
of various kinds. The dog then pens the stock. For the intermediate
class, there's an outrun, lift, and fetch, with the handler staying at
a handler's post until the dog has passed the post (after the outrun,
lift and fetch). One of the obstacles is a holding pen -- the dog has
to move the stock into the pen and hold them there for about a minute.
Then there's the pen at the end. Advanced has the same elements as
intermediate, except the course is longer, and the handler's movement
is more restricted. The other courses also get vastly complicated as
you go from started to advanced.