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I was watching a man who made his livlihood as a hill shepherd run his dog at a trial. Another shepherd was standing next to me, and commented that the man on course always runs his dog as if he's shepherding sheep. I'd noticed he had a different way about him, but until that comment, could never put my finger on how, or why.


The realization changed everything about the way I run, train and teach.


To the OP, by far the most frustrating part about a dog trial for me is watching the neglect some have for their dogs and the stock. I don't mean abuse, or just the competitors, or just the sheep. I mean the finesse of tone, pressure, timing, surroundings, consideration and respect. Hands screaming at their dogs, whistles at hand, arms and crooks flailing. I've seen puppies get loose and chase stock, out of control dogs that got into the host's chickens, runs that should have been called and weren't, set out dogs gripping unnecessarily, and it all adds up to the same thing. Lack of understanding for the animals.


For the most part, we're an aware and educated group. Accidents happen. I tend toward the trials and people who understand animals best. I watch, I learn and I pass it on. At ISDS style trials, at least, I find them to be in the majority.

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Abit late into this discussion, but I watched a ewe lamb, thru NO pressure run into a gate and break her neck, while we were working them WITHOUT a dog..we were seperating the ewes and lambs we had just bought..we ushered her and 5 of her penmates thru a gate..she ran into the panel and broke her neck. It was interesting, as it was the first time I got to see a lamb butchered and the animal did not go to waste for the owner.


As a "shepherd" (owner of sheep)..I have come to a realization that stockmanship is about sheep sense..we used to say in order to work a cow well on horseback, you had to work "the gate"..learn how to these animals functioned and thought and reacted. I feel the same with sheep. I think in order to be an feffective stockman/woman, one must understand how a sheep functions and how it reacts.


We show our sheep, the flock includes some nice animals (I raise dorpers)..so I am always careful in working to keep the work as stressfree as possible. Even though they are hairs, the 110 degree weather we've had has even knocked them out abit..I find them in the shade during the hot parts of the day. Ive been needing to work the pregnant girls, to give 30 day vac's..and need to work the showsheep, but have been holding off due to the heat. Not to mention, its hard on the dog in the heat too.


IMO, stockdog work should always, at its basic level, be about the stock and the dog..not your ego, not "playing" with the dog..the work should always be as stressfree and "easy" as possible for the animals...JMO. While I initially got sheep to work my dog, its morphed into more..and now I have a dog to work my sheep. :)

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