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Wow! Over here in all but national and international trials each competitor is responsible for taking their own bunch of sheep off the field after their run. Occasionally, the course director will ask someone to assist and sometimes someone volunteers to do it - to give their young dog experience of working in a new place with new people around etc.


As others have said, Andy, the practice over here is for each competitor to remain at the exhaust pen and exhaust the following competitor's sheep. But your system is so much better! The competing dog already has the sheep in hand, and in all but the most unusual circumstances can move them more efficiently to the exhaust than a dog who must run out from the exhaust to get them. I advocate for "exhaust your own" every chance I get, but nobody listens to me. :)

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At our trial we have found that exhausting your own sheep worked best with the way we ran the field the first few times (smaller course with milk house behind the post). We found that it took much less time to get the sheep off the field for the reason you stated.


We also find that when the shed is last not every handler is considerate enough to recollect their sheep to facilitate the exhaust, allowing the non-held sheep to run across the field (after the shed had been called). When we have had issues with the non-held sheep being allowed to escape we changed the order the next day to shed then pen, forcing every handler to think about where the non-held sheep are.


I have no issues with exhaust your own, except when the conditions are such that many dogs are too hot to be mentally there to do so. I have seen enough cases of this (either due to the temps or due to dogs running hot) to risk several cases of long delays to not have a fresh dog on hand to help out. The best way to ensure a fresh dog is on hand is to appoint one or exhaust the next run. Of course if the previous handler (or the appointed exhaust person) is not paying attention to the run on the field there will still be delays.


Handlers need to realize that the time needed to exhaust the sheep takes time out of the day for runs; trial hosts will take these delays into consideration next year when setting the limit on the number of dogs they will accept. Too many delays will mean fewer dogs allowed in next year.

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I'm always amazed to see experienced Open handlers who don't regather and bump the sheep toward the exhaust when a run is finished. And it's one of those etiquette things newer/novice handlers should be instructed on. I almost always mention at a handlers meeting that i am conducting that the sheep should be pushed towards the exhaust at the end of a run.

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I'll just add that exhaust (and set out, for that matter) shouldn't be used as a training ground for young dogs, at least at large, overbooked trials where time is likely to be short. Too much chance of things going wrong and time being wasted. At smaller trials, this wouldn't be an issue. JMO.


Oh, and while I'm at it, why do experienced open handlers think it's okay to exhaust the sheep in front of them and leave a single behind? I don't care how great/experienced the dog is--bringing a single off the field is usually going to take more time than taking the other 2 or 3 back to it and bringing the whole group off together.



I think exhausting your own sheep is a good thing, except for the moseying factor that can happen, and as Mark pointed out, if the dog is very hot, then having a fresh dog to get the sheep off the field can be a better option, for the health/safety of the dog that just ran. This past weekend, I think it would have been a risk to the dogs to ask them to exhaust after finishing a run on Saturday. On Sunday, not so much.



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