This kind of testing can be done in an informal manner just purely for interest or in a more formal setting using a grading system assessing various aspects of the dog's behaviour with stock. The purpose of the Herding Aptitude Test is to observe the instinctive reactions of a dog in a controlled environment. With no previous training commands are irrelevant and are kept to a minimum.
Currently in the UK we do not have a recognised Herding Aptitude Test for Bearded Collies, so for a formal test we use the paperwork and guidelines which are in place in Sweden. This Test requires that the dog displays a convincing level of natural ability plus evidence of trainability with co-operation with a handler, and in order to pass the dog is required to show sustained interest in the stock for a period of approximately 15 minutes.
We use a smallish well-fenced paddock containing about half a dozen quiet sheep, and the trainer is in overall control of the situation to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all concerned
****If you own a Bearded Collie - or any other "unusual" herding breed - and would like to attend a testing/training session, either as a participant with your dog or as a spectator, please feel free to contact us for more information. You can do this via our "FEEDBACK" link - or if you prefer, contact Jackie Goulder directly at The Glebe for up-to-date details of proposed testing/training sessions - her web link is www.spanglefish.com/BeardedColliesforShepherding
ROLL OF HONOUR
Our own DIVA (Talraz Indiana) has the honour of being the first UK Bearded Collie to be formally assessed and awarded the Swedish Herding Aptitude Certificate when tested by visiting trainer Carl Borgstrom in August 2007. Since then a number of dogs have been passed according to the same guidelines and a full list appears on the designated page on the Herding Beardies website -see www.spanglefish.com/HerdingBeardies
Jeannie (Talraz Silver Charm) attempting an informal instinct test. The lead has already been removed but she remains at heel while considering her next move, and everyone holds their breath....
Not at all keen
Two minutes into the test and Jeannie has already indicated that this pastime is not for her, thank you, and prepares to abandon her owner! Very soon she will discreetly head for the gate. Definitely a "safe" dog around stock, but not a potential worker
Raring to go to work
Potential worker eyeing up sheep even before she enters the field! This is something we like to see.... Diva is not wearing a lead in this picture as she can now be relied on not to start without us, but of course all first-timers wear a lead initially for safety reasons
Carl Borgstrom with Ebony
Carl Borgstrom informally testing Ebony (Menander Temptation to Kiltondale) at Pickering in August 2007. At only 7 months Ebony showed a strong desire to herd plus great biddability - a very promising puppy, she formally gained her Certificate in May 2008
Jackie testing Bella
Here's Bella (Terzina Twice As Nice) aged 12 months, on her first encounter with sheep - another very promising youngster with a nice attitude. Bella on her sire's side is a close relation to our Diva.
Bella also gained her Certificate under Carl Borgstrom in May 2008
Jackie formally testing Ellie
Ellie (Coalacre Love Sonnet), a four year old bitch with previous training in agility/obedience, here doing a very good job of holding the flock in the corner despite her lack of experience.
Ellie showed some good work and proved sensible and biddable - and enjoyed herself hugely too! Gained her certificate under Jackie Goulder as per the Swedish guidelines
Mac tries his paw with the sheep
Mac (Ch Kiltondale McAuley JW) who first met sheep at rising nine years old! He showed a certain amount of interest and total confidence, as can be seen from this photo, and we can only assume that had he been a little younger we could have had some fun with this well-known veteran show dog
Breagh aged 9
Despite his age and a bit of a question mark over his health, this slate veteran with previous agility/obedience training was happy to show us his ability with the sheep.
He showed a confident approach and fluency in both directions, stopped and recalled with ease.
A dog with a nice attitude, gained his Certificate under Jackie Goulder in November 2007
Liz with Gillie aged 7
This beautiful brown dog, also with an agility/obedience background, tested excellent in all aspects. Calm, persistent, supple and biddable, he gained his Certificate with flying colours! A Beardie which impressed us very much and which we hope we will see at The Glebe again before too long
Tully aged 16 months
On her first encounter with sheep in March 2008 Tully showed a little more reserve than her litter sister Bella, but as her lessons progress her confidence and enthusiasm are increasing all the time
Carl testing Ellie
Here Diva's sister Ellie, better known for her showing successes, proves she too could be a decent herding dog with a little more training!
Gained her Certificate under Carl Borgstrom in May 2008
Just to prove that herding is on both sides of the family, here's Ryan, sire to Diva and Ellie, showing he has natural flair for the job. In fact he showed more enthusiasm than our Meg did!
Gained his Certificate under Carl in May 2008