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Students Learn the Valuable Skill of Sheepdog Handling

Date: 2nd May 2019

Students at Newton Rigg College are proving that when it comes to working with livestock, a well-trained dog can be your best friend!

A group of Level 3 students at the specialist Cumbria-based college are trying their hands at learning the traditional skill of sheepdog handling in what is a trail blazing initiative at the college.

Organised in conjunction with the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS), they are under tuition from expert Derek Scrimgeour, who not only has decades of experience, but has represented England at least 18 times and competed at World Trials level. In 2008 he successfully captained the English team and has been working training would-be sheepdog handlers for the last 15 years.

Joe Relph senior national vice president with the ISDS, was instrumental in the course being introduced. He said: “Newton Rigg and its parent college, Askham Bryan, have really embraced the value of sheepdog training and are the only ones to be running sessions like this. Interest has been shown by others which we’re hoping will develop into similar opportunities.

“We seem to have missed a generation, perhaps with the advent of quad bikes, so it’s wonderful to see the interest being rekindled in what is an essential part of livestock management. You can’t manage without a dog, especially on the fells.”

Joe attended the training session along with the Director of Newton Rigg College, Robert Marshall Slater.

The students, whose ages range from 16 – 18 years, are from both farming and non-farming backgrounds and are studying agriculture, and agricultural engineering. They have all chosen to attend the 22 sessions outside their curriculum timetable. The course complements the rest of their studies which includes achieving their ATV tickets.

Said Mr Scrimgeour: “We have a really good group here, with plenty of natural talent. The skills they are learning will stay with them for the rest of their lives, whether they go into the competition world, use their knowledge on their own farms or where they work, or perhaps come back to it later in life.”

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Newton Rigg College,
CA11 0AH
01768 893400