Yeppers, I'm still here! This past weekend was our first set of AKC herding trials this year, held here at our Sunset Acres farm. It keeps raining...someone kind must have sent it our way tho, breaking many weeks of drought. After the trials this weekend we are holding 2 days of herding clinics - the judges are teaching us better ways to efficiently move sheep and how to get ready for the next level up of competition since almost everyone did a bang-up job of getting new herding titles! So today we are working in the rain and showers again, tomorrow we are doing instinct testing for those wanting to get started. Yes, the dogs I handled and trained did well too, and so did all of my students, I am very proud of them!!
I have a huge brag...... one that I am very proud of actually. The judges have greatly complimented my sheep. They are excellent sheep. No, not pretty sheep, not cute sheep, but sheep that every herding trainer and livestock provider would die to own as trial sheep. I've heard that comment before from other judges that have been here, but each time it reassures me that I'm doing a good job with my sheep. No sheep running into fences in a panic from a strange or powerful dog, no sheep that faint or fake dead. No, my sheep are very very well dog broke. They don't stay with the handler/shepherd unless the dog keeps them there (or is carrying a 50# sack of barley, which is not allowed in a trial of course). They are honest sheep, capable of working for both starting dogs and advanced dogs. They are wonderful. And do you know what the secret is? You start them as baby lambs right alongside their mother. And you keep only good mothers with good brains in their heads, no wild rebels allowed to teach bad habits to their young.
I once had a judge several years ago that was soooo impressed with this breed of sheep that she went out and bought some. And friends who taught lessons and took lessons also went out to buy some. Funny thing, one of the judges commented to me that she, too, bought and owned some thanks to that one judge's high reccomendations after seeing and working with mine.
That's a huge compliment. And a huge plus for the breed. If you sell Shetlands to someone wanting to work them and traing their dog with them, sell them calm, very young sheep, preferably lambs. Give them your good stock, not your culls. No, they won't be shredded by mean dogs, and most have the life of Riley, very well fed and cared for. Afterall, you can't work sick or weak sheep, only the best are good enough for trials, that is, if you want people to come back and pay you to use them again and again. Shetlands make WONDERFUL herding stock, remember that when you sell your lambs, or someone comes looking for wethers to work with their dogs.