Monday’s sheepdog training class is looking doubtful

Picture of a big splash as Jan rushes through the water (away from the camera).

Unless the rain eases, we fear that next Monday's sheepdog training course will have to be cancelled

Looking down at liquid mud with a few blades of grass here and there
After weeks of heavy rain nearly every day, much of our training ground is waterlogged

Despite having a decent covering of grass this winter, the constant rain has brought our training field to saturation point. We're seriously considering whether we should go ahead with Monday's group sheepdog training course.

Obviously we'll run the class if we possibly can but, if you're one of those booked onto the course, please keep an eye on your email over the next few days.

Of course, sheepdog training and sheep keeping are outdoor pursuits, and we all expect to get wet if we work outside in the UK, but the problem with training sheepdogs in wet weather is safety. We need to contain the sheep within the circular pen while we teach the novice dogs to control the sheep, and with dogs, sheep and humans moving around on the same patch of soggy ground, it becomes very slippery.

The early stages of the sheepdog training process require the handler to move around - backwards and forwards, and with sudden turns and stops. It's easy enough to slip over when the ground is dry, but there's far more risk when it's slippery underfoot.

Young border collie puppy standing in a muddy patch of ground
Little Jack doesn't mind the mud and surprisingly, when it dries, it just falls out of his coat

After the drought of summer 2012 we had very little grass going into the winter. Grass doesn't grow much from October to April in the UK, so when the winter of 2012/13 produced much higher than the average rainfall, the ground quickly became unusable for training. We had to cancel training from October until March - even for our own dogs!

This year we have much more grass, and in anticipation of heavy rainfall we've preserved an area for training, but even that is becoming too soft for safety. However, just a few days without rain would give the ground time to recover a little before Monday.

If we have to cancel (and we'd rather not, as we're aware people often have to make complicated arrangements for family, livestock and/or work commitments to be able to take a day away from home) anyone booked onto the course will be offered alternative dates, or a refund of their payment.


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