Kay helps Carew with her sheepdog trials training

Carew's in training for a sheepdog trial this weekend

We have another local sheepdog trial this weekend (Mathon, near Malvern) and I'm hoping to run both Kay and Carew. Having done well at Powick last weekend I'm happy with Kay's performance, but Carew is a different matter.

Herding dog Kay driving sheep into a field
Kay starts to drive the stubborn sheep up the field

Carew's not as experienced as Kay and can get confused when she's not sure what's needed of her, so I want to be certain she knows what's required and gives a reasonable account of herself. Her outrun is normally excellent at home, but every trials field is a new challenge so the more practice she has, the better.

Fortunately, our landlord kindly allows us to use some of his fields for training dogs. There's one that's ideal for long outruns so, just after seven this morning, I used Kay to move some of our sheep into the practice field. The sheep were not at all cooperative, but Kay was determined and, in the end, drove them to the far end of the field.

Kay relaxes after a hard drive
Exhausted by heat and stubborn sheep, Kay takes a well earned break and relaxes in the grass

The sheep had been determined to come back and made every step of the way as difficult as possible for Kay, but the field was recently cut for silage and the hedgerows are un-grazed. I was counting on the burgeoning hedgerows being appetising enough to keep the sheep busy while I collected Carew - and it worked! They stayed in place long enough for me to return with Carew and send her on her outrun.

Off she went, wide, and at her usual steady pace, and I was delighted that she lay down behind the sheep immediately when I gave the command. From this point things didn't go so well though. Despite Carew being calm and well back from the sheep, they bolted back down the field as though the devil was after them. Try as I might, I couldn't get Carew to "head" the sheep to slow them down.

I'm not too worried about this - Carew will improve with experience. The main thing is that she did a great outrun, and stopped beautifully. If the dog approaches calmly, giving the sheep plenty of space, it's unusual for them to bolt in this way so, hopefully, on Friday (and possibly Saturday too) things will be easier for Carew. (Thanks Kay!)

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