For those of you who want to watch a sheepdog doing a big outrun! You’ve read the blog, now see the film!
It’s good to see a lot of interest in our blog. Particularly on the days when we take Kay and Carew to gather sheep at Dean Farm, for our landlord and friend, John Richards. Dean Farm is our easiest opportunity to give our dogs practice with long outruns.
Click the video above to watch a sheepdog doing a big outrun. For English Subtitles, click ‘CC’ on player.
Long outruns develop gradually
As the dogs have gained experience we’ve gradually increased the length of their outruns to gather the sheep. On this occasion, we wanted to see whether Carew could do the full outrun across the two biggest fields. We also thought our readers would want to watch her big outrun, too.
As well as being a much longer outrun than Carew had done before, it meant she would need to find the gap between the two fields. Once through, Carew needed go out wide again to collect all the sheep together (something she hadn’t done before).
Gill and I decided to record it to give our readers a better idea of what happens when we gather sheep, but it turned out to be a lot more. The farther away a young dog works from the handler, the more unsure of themselves they can become. As you watch Carew’s big outrun, notice how she needs some direction and encouragement when she’s working at a distance. Apart from this, Carew does a first class job of bringing around fifty sheep back, in a controlled manner, all by herself.
But Carew’s work isn’t finished yet
Watch the sheep as they come through the gap. Several of them try to escape by bolting to our right, but Carew immediately brings them back. (We didn’t even notice this until we watched the video, so Carew was working instinctively there.) As they get closer, the sheep are not keen to go out of the field and onto the farm drive. Watch the black ones on the left. Once again, Carew calmly manages the task very well.
The big outrun is only the first part of Carew’s work.
Carew takes the sheep into the sorting pens, where you’ll see her at work pushing them from one area to the next. One of the ewes briefly challenges her, but quickly changes her mind, turns around and follows the others. The sheep have learned to respect Carew, and in this video you’ll see why. She excels at this close work – putting just enough pressure on the sheep to get the job done, without being too hard on them.
The outrun across two fields is very nearly five hundred metres. That’s a long way for a dog of Carew’s limited experience but she genuinely did this gather unaided – first time.