2017-01-13   facebooktwitterrss

Amos Takes Lead in New Sheepdog Training Venture

Farmer James ‘Amos’ Dewhurst, of Winterburn, near Skipton, has launched new sheepdog handler training clinics.

His Winterburn Working Sheepdogs is a dual-purpose venture designed not only to develop a lifelong passion, while at the same time create a new business opportunity, but also to promote and encourage renewed interest in sheep dog handling, as many societies continue to be hard hit by falling membership.

James Dewhurst, who has launched Winterburn Working Sheepdogs

One man and his dog – farmer James Dewhurst, who has launched Winterburn Working Sheepdogs

“Sheepdog societies across our region are suffering and numbers are declining. We used to have five Pennine Nursery Societies. One has folded and some of the others are struggling.

“If something is not done soon, more societies could well disappear. We urgently need to attract new blood, including people from non-farming backgrounds,” stressed Mr Dewhurst, who is himself a long-standing member and stalwart of Trawden Sheepdog Society.

In a bid to redress the balance, he has established Winterburn Working Sheepdogs - and comes equipped with all the right credentials.

James Dewhurst has been breeding, working with and training sheepdogs for over 45 years, regularly competing in local nursery and agricultural show trials – both winning and being placed in numerous events over the years.

He farms predominantly Swaledale and Blue Faced Leicester sheep and also keeps a small flock of ‘quiet’ Welsh Balwens in a level croft, both of which are being used for his handling courses.

Mr Dewhurst will offer an initial assessment, first demonstrating his methods of training with his own dogs, before watching each handler with his or her dog, both to judge if there is mutual respect and to assess if the dog is at a suitable stage to begin training.

If so, the next stage is to run small group sessions of no more than four or five people at a time, with each handler tutoring their own dog for around 15 minutes, before observing other dogs working with their handlers, followed by a discussion on the progress of each dog and a further short session each.

Mr Dewhurst also takes in dogs for training, though feels people will get much more pleasure from training their own dogs – from pups upwards - under expert supervision. And while he is eager to pass on his skills to both sexes and all age groups – from students to semi-retired people from non-farming backgrounds – he certainly won’t turn away young, up and coming farmers keen to enhance their handling talents.

“Sheep dog handling and trialling is an age-old tradition and we must do all we can to preserve such skills, while at the same time creating renewed interest in the work of our sheepdog societies,” stressed Mr Dewhurst, who maintains a true commitment to bringing town and country together, as well as highlighting the vital role that farming continues to play in people’s lives.

Moule Media

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