These are the remainder of the photos taken during the herding clinic. Please pardon the poor quality. The dogs were very fast and the dust stirred up by panicking sheep made photography a challenge.
These are some of the photos taken during the herding clinic. Please pardon the poor quality. The dogs were very fast and the dust stirred up by panicking sheep made photography a challenge. The remainder of the photos will be posted tomorrow.
The Central Alberta Herding Clinic was a great success.
Today, I’m collecting photos and will be posting them here over the next few days. And to take a breather. Saturday and Sunday were monster days of keeping track of everyone, and finding one lost participant. All in all, everyone and their dog left with a huge respect for the herding breeds, an appreciation for the herding dog trainers, and a smile from seeing their dog’s performance, even if Fido’s instincts fell a bit short of trial quality.
In spite of the rain, everyone who registered attended (except one due to illness). We owe a huge thank you to W Five Farms Dana and Herbert for letting us use their horse arena. Kathy and Ralph Playdon provided a table full of goodies as well as the most delicious burgers and smokies.
I was totally impressed with the dogs, including the ones that hadn’t seen sheep before, but exhibited strong herding instincts. Those Border Collies, German Coolie, Australian Kelpie, Blue Healer – a m a z i n g!!!
Our Sheltie group had to admit the Sheltie can herd, but it will take more dedication and perseverance. The Shelties entered the ring with some pretty snarly sheep but showed no fear, especially wee Tux. Very impressive.
None of this would have been possible if it were not for Kathy Playdon’s willingness to fit us in her crazy busy schedule. Kathy gave one on one attention to each dog and its handler, providing feedback and instruction. And even when a few herders wanted to taste a bit of mutton, Kathy managed to keep smiling. Her calm and wise leadership is what made this event such a fun and educational event.
Thank you, Kathy.
Photo: Kathy Playdon (left) and Ralph (right seated) meeting with Sunday’s group.
Date of Herding Clinic:
May 21, 2016; tentatively 9 am to 4 pm. If more people sign up for the clinic, the event may carry over to May 22nd.
Kathy Playdon’s Sheep Ranch
Brightbank Finnsheep http://www.finnsheep.ca/ . Brightbank
Finnsheep is about 40 minute drive west of Edmonton, Alberta.
If weather becomes a concern, we may decide to use a nearby arena.
Fee: $80 per dog, per day Prior to April 15th, each participant will
need to confirm attendance by forwarding a $40 deposit toward the clinic
fee. There will be no refund if the participant chooses to cancel
participation. Final payment will be due upon arriving at the clinic. If
the clinic is cancelled, all deposits will be returned.
Mail your herding clinic deposit (cheque) prior to April 15th to: Judy Weir at 64 Greystone Drive, Spruce Grove, AB T7X 1X2
- Rules of the day (safety to people and animals, schedule, etc.)
- Overview of herding technique, commands
- In the morning, each participant will be given 15-20 minutes of
training in a outdoor ring (or arena)
- After lunch, each participant will be given a second training session in the ring; or, if the dog and handler appear to have good control, a small field will be the location of training
Snack food and refreshments will be provided to the participants at no
extra charge. Guests may be asked to pay a small fee (or donate).
*What I need from you?*
Please email email@example.com
– Your name and contact information (phone number)
– Name of your dog, breed, and age
– Any question you may have
*NOTE*: I am volunteering to organize this event (for the love of the
herding breed and their handlers).
Judy Weir: Several years ago, I had the crazy notion that I could train my three shelties to be sheep herders. My enthusiasm had been ignited by a conversation with their obedience instructor at Companion Dog, Derek Di Ciacca (http://www.companiondogobedienceschool.com/) who was training his Border Collie at his ranch. That evening became the beginning of my next mission. Find someone who would be willing to train my shelties.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” And so it did. Within weeks, my three shelties were on Kathy Playdon’s sheep ranch. See article regarding Kathy Playdon and her famous sheep at: http://www.stonyplainreporter.com/2012/06/28/modern-day-sheep-herder-loves-the-lifestyle
My enthusiasm was about to hit reality. My two oldest Shelties had some natural herding instinct but lacked in enthusiasm. After five minutes, the fun of the chase wore off.
I had my doubts about my youngest and smallest Sheltie. However, when Kathy and I put Seamus through the test drill, he took my breath away. He was a natural. From that day on, I did everything possible to practice sheep herding with Seamus.
I still chuckle remembering the difficulty I had in learning how to herd sheep. It was rigorous work, and I lacked the instinct that Seamus had. I still can hear Kathy shouting, “Stop telling him what to do. He knows what he’s doing.” Finally, I realized that I had to shut up and trust in my dog’s instincts.
During the winter when Kathy shut down her herding sessions, I drove an hour weekly to another farm to fine tune Seamus’ “Way to me,” and “Come by” and “That’ll do” commands.
Seamus was a busy camper. He attended conformation shows and agility training. By the second year, Seamus was in herding competition with Border Collies. One day he got points in conformation, then hurried to a herding competition. He was never in first place, but he was also never took last place. However, by the third year, the herding training opportunities came to an end.
I still have a keen interest in giving my Shelties every opportunity to live a full life as intended by their ancestors. Recently, I connected again with Kathy Playdon. We discussed a Sheltie’s herding instincts. Briefly, this is what Kathy had to say on this subject.
Kathy Playdon: “Shelties could be selected for herding and improve their instincts through selective breeding for sure. Seamus was a very good herding sheltie and enjoyed it.”
Judy Weir: Is sheep herding becoming a thing of the past? Is it more of a sport now?
Kathy Playdon: “The herding dog is still a necessity with sheep, but the sheep dog training as a sport has definitely been declining in North America. However I think it will stick around forever and may even get a resurgence.”
Judy Weir: At what age should herding training begin?
Kathy Playdon: “Puppies that have an instinct to herd will usually show signs by 8 – 12 weeks. They have to be able to outrun the sheep. I often start my dogs before 12 weeks. Many trial dogs start trialing by 5-6 months and do very well. Some start later and still do well. Instinct has to be bred in, a trained dog is useful but can’t compete with one with instinct. Ducks are good to start dogs on, and easy to move sheep are good, (not crabby rams).”
Judy Weir: Can a sheep herding dog be treated like a pet or more like a partner?
Kathy Playdon: I used to treat my dogs more as employees, now they are more like pets and they work just as well.”
Judy Weir: Have you considered resuming your sheep herding clinics?
Kathy Playdon: “I would like to get back into the dog clinics again as well and I do have access to nice sheep, but ducks would also be useful.”
Judy Weir: Thank you, Kathy. It would be wonderful to evaluate Sammy and Jade’s herding instinct. And, I know there are others in our Edmonton and area that have a keen interest in this subject. Perhaps the universe will conspire to make this vision become a reality.
Should We Plan a Herding Clinic?
Herding dog enthusiasts, if you suspect your dog exhibits herding ability and would like to participate in a herding clinic, let me know. I will start a list of interested people to see if we have enough people to initiate a herding clinic near Edmonton, Alberta. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.