Ceilidh Capers by Ann Witte

If ever there was proof that Beardies are different from other breeds, particularly in herding, the the “1998 Beardie Clan Ceilidh” was it. Aside from the 6 test titles completed and the 6 newly trial titled Beardies, the best result of the week was the learning. Everyone shared their experience and expertise, no matter how little of either any one person had. Some of us with more time spent in herding, found renewed enthusiasm while watching and helping the novices. The “newcomers” gleaned ideas and information from the “oldtimers” about Beardie talent, style, and training techniques.

Training a Beardies in herding is less “mechanical” than with most breeds; it needs to be a gradual modification and refinement of the dog’s natural style. Training the handler is much harder! At least half of the NQs in any trial is the “fault” of the handler. The most common mistake is the over-use of commands and the crook. Both in training and competition, it is so difficult to use stillness as is taught in oriental martial arts.

No one is more excitable than I am (ask anyone who knows me!) but I have finally learned to mellow down. Stillness is internal self-control without a fight. It is oneness with yourself and your dog. Staying calm keeps the whole training and trialing experience both more effective and more enjoyable. Next month, Joel will discuss over-handling from a judge’s viewpoint.

Happy Herding – Ann

© 1998 by Ann Witte.

This article originally appeared in “Bagpipes”, the Bearded Collie Club of America’s monthly newsletter. Reprinted with permission of the author.