We are fortunate to have as a good friend Jackie Goulder, an experienced and talented animal trainer with a special interest in dogs. Having also trained parrots, dolphins and sea lions among others Jackie is undaunted by the challenge of training Beardies.
In the mid-1990's she invited me to "have a go" with my Beardies on the small flock of sheep which she used to train sheepdogs, a hobby which was increasingly becoming a part of her life.
LULU - Talraz Tutti Frutti 1CC 1ResCC JW
To our great interest and pleasure we found the herding instinct alive and well in the modern "show-bred" Bearded Collie. Over the next year or two we continued this experiment, training our own Beardies, Shannon and Lulu, and also inviting others to the field to test and train their dogs. Shannon was a barker, something of a clown, distractable, and hot-headed - quite a challenge! Lulu on the other hand was silent and serious and on occasions somewhat diffident in her approach. Between them they taught us a lot.
Times change, and other things intervened. Most notably my dear friend and partner dog Lulu became ill, and as we battled to restore her to health our herding days became a distant memory. Jackie too was in an eventful period of her life, and though we remained firm friends we managed to organise only one "Beardie Herding Day" in ten years, albeit it proved great fun and a popular venture.
Lulu's great-grand-daughter Diva in action in May 2008
Now in 2007 with a superb new venue and batteries fully charged, we find ourselves on the verge of starting again with a new group of dogs. Older we may be, wiser perhaps not! According to many, anybody who attempts to make a proper herding dog out of a "silly show dog" must be crazy. .... However we are prepared to give it a go and see what happens, and having made a small start, we hope that our guest trainer Carl Borgstrom from Sweden will give us the right kind of guidance in our venture!
LATER......How glad we are that Carl came to Yorkshire last weekend. He stayed at the home of Jackie and Bob, and as a centre for training sheepdogs the facilities proved just about ideal. A happy group of enthusiastic Beardies and their owners spent two days being put through their paces and we all came away having learned a great deal of new information about Beardies in general and our own dogs in particular.
*****To view a short clip of Diva having a training session with Carl please click on this link www.youtube.com/watch *******
Hopefully we will continue to train on under Jackie's guidance, and on Carl's next visit (whenever that may be!) he will see a huge difference ....and he did! See "NEWS" section for updates...
Since none of us own sheep we have to remain "hobby herders" for the time being, but we will do our best to develop the raw herding instinct which is still so strongly in evidence in some of our modern show-bred Bearded Collies. For more pictures of Beardies in action take a look at www.kiltondale.net on the "Herding Experience" page - young Ebony was a joy to see and I think Carl would have happily taken her back to Sweden with him. Other Beardies in action can be seen at www.spanglefish.com/BeardedColliesforShepherding
for a clip of Roxy (Talraz Honeysuckle) having a lesson with sheep
We hope to organise more events in the future, certainly it would be fascinating and very worthwhile to provide instinct testing for this breed - as far as we know there are no facilities for this in UK though both Sweden and the USA have encouraged herding activities via their breed clubs. We know we can depend on Carl to guide us in this venture and provide moral support, and of course without the backing of sheepdog trainer friends Jackie and Bob we would be sunk - so a huge and public thank you to both of them for their generosity to our Beardie friends!!
Our latest hopeful, who with a handful of lessons under her belt is beginning to develop a lovely smooth relaxed style of work - though her tendency towards "multitasking" while in the sheep field is sometimes alarming!!