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Fog hung around for sheepdog skills training on Exmoor

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

AT WORK: Shepherd Bob Watson working with his top dog, Gwen.

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FOG tested the skills of the sheepdogs brought to a training day on Exmoor where expert handlers Bob and Jed Watson were showing how it can be done.

The event was organised by the Exmoor Hill Farm Project to help farmers looking to train and bring on their own dog.

Each of the six trainees with a total of seven dogs had time one to one with Bob, who with one of his best dogs, Juno, won the English National Sheepdog Association title last year. Jed is also an award winner.

One of the organisers, Kate Harris, said: "It was a good day despite the weather, the facilities are very good at Combeleigh Farm.

"Jed and Bob both have different styles but both very passionate about what they do. Hopefully everyone who came went away with some useful tips and advice to practice at home."

Combeleigh Farm near Dunkery Beacon is the equine centre of Olympic equestrian team trainer Mary Bromiley and Rabbit and Penny Slattery.

Bob said: "It came in foggy but we were able to work. The majority of people were farmers' wives, daughters and sons with young dogs needing advice and guidance on how to get more out of them."

He and other experienced handlers have been in demand this year as more stockmen and women are looking to dogs for the right kind of help out in the field.

"The price of dogs has gone up dramatically because people are realising what good value dogs are," he said.

"A genuine good farm dog is around £1,500 to £2,000."

The sheepdog trials season is now over, although nursery events continue through the winter.

Bob said: "They're for people with young dogs, novice dogs when it gives them an opportunity to work them away from home on fresh ground."

Next year's English National Sheepdog Trials are returning to Castle Hill, Filleigh, where Bob hopes to have two dogs qualify among the 150 that will take part.

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