Bronwen – arguably our best sheepdog ever!

Close up of Bronwen concentrating very hard on some sheep

At Dean Farm today, Bronwen worked supremely well

Knowing she can be somewhat “trigger happy” when it comes disciplining an errant sheep, I really didn’t expect Bronwen to be a serious contender for being our best herding sheepdog ever, but her recent performances have been superb.

Close up of Bronwen looking straight at the camera with ears pricked - looking very alert!
Not just a pretty face! You’d think butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but Bronwen can certainly look after herself in a tight spot.

She still needs watching in a stressful situation, but Bronwen really excelled at Dean Farm this morning. Normally I take both Bronwen and Kay with me, because Kay’s outrun is excellent while Bronwen has the power to move stubborn ewes and lambs. Recently though, Kay’s age seems to be catching up with her. I suspect her hearing’s not as good as it was, and despite her initial excitement when she realises she’s going to work sheep, she doesn’t have the stamina she once had.

Today in the pouring rain, I decided to take Bronwen with me and leave Kay at home. My only worry was that Bronwen had never worked alongside a vehicle before. When you’re inside a vehicle, shouting commands to a dog, some dogs will take advantage and ignore the commands. Knowing how headstrong Bronwen can be, I half expected her to do this, but it was worth a try.

My doubts were completely unfounded. Bronwen worked outside the 4×4 as though she’d been doing it all her life. In fact, she worked so efficiently that we had the flock down at the farm buildings before John was quite ready for them. There was nowhere for them to go, so most of the sheep carried on into a small paddock, while the rest made a dash back up the drive towards the field.

Close up of Kay lying next to a tree.
Kay’s as enthusiastic as ever when it comes to work, but her age is catching up with her.

Picture a farm drive completely filled with about a hundred sheep running at top speed back towards their field. A good dog will (somehow) scrabble past the sheep, get ahead of them, and turn them back.

Carew would do it, but Kay never would. It takes a lot of determination, and a lot of courage to do it.

I didn’t even have to send Bronwen. She saw the sheep running away, and took it upon herself to bring them back. I watched in awe as she scrabbled past them dashed out into the middle of the drive ahead of them, and calmly brought them back.

By this time, the gate into the handling yard was open, and the whole flock went in. From there, it was a straight forward job of running the ewes and lambs through the sorting race, loading the lambs for market, and then taking the remainder of the flock back to their field.

Bronwen certainly rose to the occasion. I was proud of her.


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3 responses to “Bronwen – arguably our best sheepdog ever!”

  1. Dave Lyons avatar
    Dave Lyons

    Hi Andy,love the tutorials,if I stand between the sheep and dog and flank him he will flank FAIRLY wide in both directions however if I try and give him an outrun from my feet two things are now happening,the dog will either run straight at them or run some of the way and then stop and seem unsure of himself,this doesn’t happen all of the time which is leaving me a little puzzled as it doesn’t always be a great distance sometimes maybe 20-30 yards,when he does go he always runs straight at them,both his parents are wide outrunners,his father is actually too wide,my dog is nearly two years old so I thought at this stage confidence wouldn’t be an issue but if I stand anywhere between him and the sheep he will flank around them,any advice would be fantastic.

    1. A classic case of sending the dog too far, too soon, Dave. Running straight at the sheep is a sure sign of lack of confidence, and so is stopping on the outrun and looking back at you. If the dog goes out well when you stand between it and the sheep, all will be fine eventually, but you need to reduce the distance to something the dog works well at, and then gradually increase the distance over time. Have you tried the “Slingshot” yet? That’s a great way to get the dog to enjoy going out wide.
      If the dog begins to go out too wide, don’t just watch it, calmly call it back in – even using “That’ll do” (or whatever recall command you use) if necessary.

  2. Hope Paine avatar
    Hope Paine

    How old is Kay now?

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