Erath County has gone to the dogs - sheep dogs that is.

One of the fastest growing competitive dog sports in the Lone Star State - sheep dog trials - are currently under way in Erath as the county plays host to the Texas Sheepdog Association's 2010 State Finals Friday-Saturday.

According to Linda Spindor, a TSDA member who assisted in the effort to bring the annual event to the area, an estimated 120 dogs and 50 handlers - the best from Texas and a few from beyond its borders - will compete in the three-day event.

So what sort of trials do these four-legged sportsters and their two-legged handlers endure? Spindor said the competitors will show off their skills and be rated on the course, the start, the outrun, lift and fetch and the pen.

She also said there are five TSDA Sheep Trail classes, from Novice to Open, which is comprised of the most accomplished level of handlers and dogs.

Spindor especially encourages spectators to turn out for Sunday's trials, which will include the Championship showdown for the open class. She said the whirlwind of action spans about 13 minutes for each open class competitor.

To get in on the action, head out to Ashcraft Ranch, located just outside of Stephenville. To get to the ranch from the intersection of U.S. Highways 281 and 67 in Stephenville, go east (toward Glen Rose) on Hwy. 67 for 5.6 miles until you reach County Road 175. Turn left on CR 175 and go .7 miles to first ranch entrance on right. ?Admission is free for spectators and competition classes begin at 8 a.m. daily

For more information on TSDA, visit the association's website at