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Marc Christopher, trainer?


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Greetings all ~

 

This may only serve to show my ignorance off to its best advantage, but who is Marc Christopher? Someone mentioned him (on an email list) as a person who does stockdog clinics, but I've not heard his name before. I did a Google search and came up with lots of references to him doing clinics, and promoting a "low stress livestock handling" program, but not a lot else.

 

Can folks here tell me who he is, what he's done, etc? Just curious, as he seems to do a lot of clinics but I hadn't heard his name before.

 

Thanks! :)

 

~ Gloria

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He does an occasional clinic around here, he seems to work alot with "AKC people" and up-right breeds...I participated once when I was first starting out and didn't know any better and wasn't impressed. There was ALOT of control emphasized with his methods. He basicly instructed me to beat the crap out of my dog because he wasn't "giving" to me...it was rather traumatizing, I couldnt do it but he did it to other dogs who completely shut down. He would procede to drag them back in the round pen and try and froce them to work...saying "quitting" wasn't an option..

 

I know he himself doesn't trial...which hurts his credibility as does similar "word of mouth" accounts, with border collie people outside of arena trials...

 

I know he has done some breeding and his breedings have backed up some nice working dogs..including some of Alasdairs dogs I believe?? Not sure on the details of this though...

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If Marc is in your area I would suggest going to audit, he has alot of good information but like any trainer/clinicianer what works for one does not work for another. We have had him here for clinics numerous times over the last 5 years the latest was last June, I have had people that were in attendence of that clinic want to know when he is coming back again, especially those that have dogs for the purpose of using them on their farms. You don't have to apply his approaches to get more out of a dog to learn other things from him.

 

 

I personally feel that what he has to teach works both in arenas and out in the open field and on all types of livestock. I sent my dog to him last spring and would do it again in a heartbeat with both Ricky or any of my young dogs that I felt that I needed help with. Ricky is still teaching me things that Marc taught him last year, it really worked out well for me, my dog came home shedding, outrunning 400 yards and handling sheep well, problem is that I didn't maintain him right so he went backwards when it comes to open field work. But, it only took me making some adjustments and he began trending back toward what he was when I picked him up from Marc's, it's in there pretty damn solid and I have faith that if I can be more disciplined with myself when it comes to taking the time to go and enter field trials that my dog will be there for me, thanks to Marc.

 

 

I plan on attending Marc's upcoming week long camp in March, hopefully he can help me work through some other things that I don't understand or see training wise and help get us ready for cattledog finals.

 

 

As for his dogs, I believe that Star is a daughter of Jake, and that Jake was a dog bred/owned by Marc. There was also a good dog that Dwight Parker owned named Spook that I believe also goes back to Marc's breeding. Ricky is a grandson of a dog named Ken, bred by Marc, Ken was a son of Mitch, I've run into quite a few handlers in Missouri that remember Mitch.

 

 

Marc lives in far south Missouri, his kids are now getting to the age where they are interested in dog trialing, they did attend a couple of trials down there this past summer but I believe both were arena trials. There is no question in my mind that he is plenty capable of training a dog to compete on the open field and to help people learn how to do it themselves along with helping them to identify good dogs.

 

 

Last weekend down at Jack Knox's I saw a blue merle aussie handle the open sheep course quite well, I was told that the handler has attended Marc's clinics, there are also quite a few others that I have run across over the last few years that have gained knowledge from Marc along the way to becoming open handlers. I'm sure there are plenty that feel that they didn't learn much from him or they disagree with what he does and how he does it, I hear similar complaints from people attending other clinicianers clinics.

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Thanks, everyone.

 

I don't have interest in the man, personally, but some all-breed herding folks here, locally, saw him mentioned on a herding email list and wondered about him, so I said I'd ask around. :) He doesn't sound at all my type, but maybe he'd suit some arena folks. Thanks for the info!

 

~ Gloria

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I look forward to seeing what answers your question may get, Diane. :)

 

I started out amongst the all-breed crowd, but there was no "looking" involved. There was only one trainer in the state of Nevada and she was it! ;) Luckily, she happened to live 17 miles away, so I was able to get my start.

 

Now, when it comes to clinics, ... it seems the all-breed folks in my neck of the woods look for someone who has been an all-breed trainer for a good while, who is respected and of good repute, and who's judged and/or showed successfully in their venue. Whether they are predominantly AHBA or ASCA seems immaterial, since we do both ASCA and AHBA trials, in this area.

 

One local all-breed trainer (there are now 2) did have Patrick Shannahan down last year, and we had Karen Child down, as well. But folks here are hesitant to embrace the "border collie" clinicians, since Aussies and other loose-eyed breeds are what would most likely show up.

 

There is very little connection to the border collie world, here, so the concepts of "Open" or top percentages just aren't in the equation.

 

Though it's a midnight, now, so I may simply not be understanding that last question. B) Sleep, now ....zzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

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Okay, found a bit more on Marc Christopher, an interview or Q&A with him. It does reveal more about his methods and philosophy.

http://leaningtreestockdogs.com/StockdogJournal/MARC%20CHRISTOPHER%20Q%20&%20A.pdf

 

Doesn't sound like he'd be a match for my own style, at all, nor am I sure he'd much suit our local all-breed club, either. But it's always good to ask questions and do some research. :)

 

~ Gloria

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I attending one of Marc's clinics.....and would never go back NOR recommend him to anyone else. He put a young dog first starting on sheep(he was about 11 months old) on a long line, took a cattle paddle...and walked around a small round pen with the youngster...he was putting constant pressure on the pup trying to get him to "bend off" the sheep...and whenever the pups gait sped up even the slightest from a slow trot he'de jerk on the long line to get him to stop or slow down...the pup eventually went to a corner of the round pen and sunk into a puddle, not wanting to work...Of course this Marc guy dragged him out by the long line and insisted he still work. The pup did a little, but was clearly not interested or keen on the sheep anymore....it was hard to watch. Especially when I have watched such amazing trainers/handlers take that FIRE in a young dog and mold it through proper training to be an awesome partner.

 

I happened to know the person slightly whose pup this was and have followed him through his trial career...he continues to have a terrible tension/grip problem where everything just seems to explode, he cant seem to take the pressure. The handler, using Marc's methods of extreme control may or may not contribute to this dogs problem...there seems to be VERY little release of pressure, or letting the dog enjoy and be keen about it's work( of course not allowing mistreatment of the stock)...

 

I know now after going to some awesome trainers/handlers how important it is to understand the RELEASE of pressure...understanding that seems to be more important than the application. AND how important it is for the dog, especiially the young one, to be guided and enjoy there work.

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Thanks for the input, BC Soulsista! :)

 

I've seen what extreme control of a young dog causes, in another all-breed trainer's methods. She also wants her dogs to never get out of a walk, to pit-a-pat along behind the stock, and in short, remain under complete control at all times. The only time the dogs aren't under pressure is when they're noodling along like tood little doggie robots.

 

This is the antitheses of what I want from my dogs. I'm very much a novice in the border collie world, I'm still muddling around in pro-novice, but I do know that I want my dogs to be able to think, and to have the freedom to learn. Stock teach a dog a lot, and a well-bred dog can sense when things aren't going right. I don't mind a pup making a mistake, if I can help him understand that it was a mistake and help him learn how NOT to make it. After all, good dogs are born with good working instincts, and if we don't watch our pups mature and learn how their instincts are wired, as individuals, we're not helping them develop their best potential.

 

Marc comes from a certain school of thought, and now I realize I've seen it before. I also realize it's not remotely something I'd want to subject my dogs to.

 

Anyhow, our local all-breed club is looking for other options, now, and Marc won't be coming here. Thanks again!

 

~ Gloria

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He does an occasional clinic around here, he seems to work alot with "AKC people" and up-right breeds...I participated once when I was first starting out and didn't know any better and wasn't impressed. There was ALOT of control emphasized with his methods. He basicly instructed me to beat the crap out of my dog because he wasn't "giving" to me...it was rather traumatizing, I couldnt do it but he did it to other dogs who completely shut down. He would procede to drag them back in the round pen and try and froce them to work...saying "quitting" wasn't an option..

 

I know he himself doesn't trial...which hurts his credibility as does similar "word of mouth" accounts, with border collie people outside of arena trials...

 

I know he has done some breeding and his breedings have backed up some nice working dogs..including some of Alasdairs dogs I believe?? Not sure on the details of this though...

This is exactly the impression I got when I went to audit one of his clinics a couple of years ago. I had been interested in herding, although I did not have a dog to work with at the time. A friend invited me to go to this with her, as it was being held at her dog's breeder's farm. It was a lot of AKC obedience people and there was a lot of ultra-control, punishment stuff going on, and frankly, I was horrified. Dogs were shutting down, dogs that had gone into the pen with keen interest in the sheep, turned to acting like there weren't any sheep in there at all, and all the dog wanted to do was get the hell outta there! Dogs were literally going into corners and trying to dig their way out of the pen! Being involved in behavior, positive reinforcement training and agility, I just remember thinking that there has to be a better way to do this! Afterwards, I wrote to someone I know, who is a very well known behaviorist, who also happens to work border collies on sheep, to ask her about this. She reassured me that it doesn't have to be that way in training herding dogs, although you do have to put your foot down rather strongly at times to keep a young, enthusiastic dog from becoming too much so, as I have found in training my own young boy. She said that usually the most you have to use is a strong voice and occasionally wack the ground with a stick or crook.

 

I will say this for him, though. At this same clinic, a young girl came up with her border collie, from Texas. Apparently, Christopher had been working with her and this dog ever since the dog was a puppy, and they put on quite an impressive demonstration. I also saw him again at another clinic, which I audited, which was attended by more border collie people, and there seemed to be a much calmer attitude toward everything at this one. So, I guess it also has a lot to do with the clientele that are being dealt with.

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