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Herding with Belgian Shepherds

by Wendi Daechsel

The herding trial season is gearing up and soon Belgians from all over Canada will be heading to their favourite farms to compete in sheep and duck herding trials. After the wet and windy winter on the "wild" West Coast, we are fortunate to have spring-like conditions to work in.

If you haven't tried herding with your Belgian yet you might want to consider it. You are missing out on a wonderful experience. To watch your dog gait freely around the stock and do what she/he has been bred to do is absolutely breathtaking. Add in the fresh air and spending time with like-minded people and you've got the ingredients for what I would call a perfect day.

Wendy and Grady penning the Sheep

Herding trials consist of you (the shepherd) and your dog moving the sheep through a defined course. The ultimate objective is to move the sheep calmly and quietly around the course, through the "obstacles", and then pen them at the completion.

Of course, things don't always go smoothly in the beginning with started level dogs, but after some lessons you'll find every run just gets better and better.

Herding is also a great sport for those dogs that either don't like or can't compete in other physical sports due to physical impediments. Belgians that are afflicted with mild arthritis can still compete. Unlike Border Collies who tend to lie down frequently on a "stop" command, a solid standing stop is all you really need. I competed with my Grady. who had mild arthritis and had difficulty sitting and lying down quickly" She had no problems competing and attaining her CKC Herding Intermediate title (HI) and one leg of her AHBA Herding Ranch Dog I title (HRD1).

I urge you to come out to the next herding trial in your area. Pack a lunch, wear work boots (if you have any) bring your Belgian and prepare to have a good time. Most Shepherds or Shepherdesses will have an extra staff to lend you when you start out.

In the meantime, enjoy the spring and summer and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at whd@thor.ca . That'll do.

Wendi is the Herding Chair for the Pacific Section. You can view more herding pictures of Wendi, Grady and the rest of the Pacific Section Gang.

Visit the following web sites for more information on Herding.

Upcoming Pacific Section Trials

Stock Dog Server

Glen Rose Farms an example of what they teach in their lessons

British Columbia's Downriver Farms & Training Facility

Have some fun! Herd Sheep on your computer

Grady and Wendi