Monday, 22 June 2015

Update from Nij

Hi there

firstly I must apologise for the lengthy delay in posting. Life is very hectic with work and trials. I am making up for last year and enjoying a good season with all three dogs in good form for the time of year. Mac and Skye both did well in the Fulwood Booth Championship coming 2nd and 4th in a strong group. Mac followed up with a good run at Deeply and also ran in the final and but for mistakes in his first outrun and 2nd lift, in the double gather, might have been in the top 6. The standard was so high that you could not afford to drop any points. Richard Hutchinson led the way with a class run.
Jake continued his way to fitness with a third at Hardon Moss and finished 5th in the Championship. Since his injury is has become very calm and forgiving with sheep but there is time to put that right before the nationals. I need more attitude from him.

I have all three dogs entered for the English nationals but Skye is down as reserve, as she was last year before Jake was injured. Hopefully he will run in first nationals this year.

After nine years I have finally used one of my own dogs, Mac, at stud. I have bred my own dogs since 1996 and plan to keep one from Mist(seen below). She has a bitch and three dogs, and fortunately, I plan to keep a dog. Yep, just the one, so have to choose carefully. I won't go into any detail about how I choose a pup as I am about to share this in the very near future.

In conversation with a friend this weekend, he said, about people wanting to keep their lines. "So what is so special about your lines" A good question. I spend every day with them, know their faults and the strengths and am loyal to them, because I have raised them. Just like my kids. Also there is the question of money - I have none.

International Clinics

I travelled to Sweden in May to run two clinics and also had the pleasure of judging two trials, by the sea. The standard was pretty high with some quality runs. I included comments on the judging sheets so handlers could see where they dropped the points, hopefully these comments were received well and appreciated as it is better to know where the points have gone. Many handlers were too eager to leave the dogs in the down, outside the ring and shed themselves and these were penalised heavily, as was levering the gate onto the sheep at the pen and touching the sheep.

A further trip to Sweden is planned in October and also Belgium in September. There is also a clinic planned in Worcestershire in September. Oh and a family holiday in October.

On a very sad note Spot aged nearly 15 years was put to sleep, after deteriorating health.  Hate it when they get old.

Bye for now.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Iceland Sheepdog Clinics 2014

I was invited by Caroline Kerstin Mende and the Agricultural University of Iceland to run a series of group clinics, and private training spanning the country. I also gave a seminar on Border Collies at the University at Hvanneyri, with the the overall aim was to persuade farmers of the merits of the Border Collies, to dispel myths about them and to work with existing farmers in improving the training and welfare of the Border Collie.

Over ten days I have travelled to: Skagafjörður (Sauðárkrókur, Nes, Miklihóll), Húnafjörður (Breiðavað, Súluvellir), Borgarfjörður (Borgarnes, Hvanneyri, Mið-Fossar), Snæfellsnes peninsula (Álftavatn, Söðulsholt and much more) and Reykjavík. In each place there was hunger for information and a willingness, by participants, to embrace new ideas. There was also talk of farmers getting together to organise their own training days with support from me via "distance learning"

Set in the most most scenic setting of any clinic I have ever run, I had to pinch myself several times to believe that I was here and felt privileged to be given the responsibility of changing the way in which sheep farming is managed.

Of the dogs I worked with there were some that I would have been proud to have in my kennels and these dogs, from British lineage, stood out as examples of good working stock. There are enough dogs here of sufficient quality for the farmers to become self sufficient and breed sound working dogs.

There were two ideologies/themes I came across:

1 That dogs would train themselves and that regular training was not required

2 Many of the dogs here are very slow to mature and easy going

The first, I believe is very much based on farmers buying dogs some 60/70 years ago from Scotland and without much training were able to perform simple tasks of gathering and helping to manage tasks with sheep. The second,  is possibly to to insufficient choice of dogs to breed from with strong working lines. Some of the dogs I saw appeared to be from show lines and lacked the hunger for work.

I hope to visit Iceland twice a year  providing training clinics and seminars.

Belgian Championships 2014

Thank you to Tommy Spriet for inviting me to judge the Belgian Championships. Held on the beach at Middelkerke, West Flanders, this was a smallish yet very testing course, with handlers having to contend with the tide coming in, difficult but manageable sheep and a huge crowd supporting. It was not unusual for the sheep to run up a steep bank to avoid the sand and run into the crowd and neighbouring shopping precinct.

The trial was held over two days and the winners were from the aggregate over the two days. Congratulations to the respective winners of the three classes.

The standard and running was varied with the handlers who have experience of different types of sheep, conditions and also training and competing abroad, having the better runs.

I will be working with Tommy to see how conditions can be improved for both handlers, sheep and dogs. This was an adventurous idea and never have I seen one man work so tirelessly over three days, in any country,  to ensure that everyone was happy and the trial ran smoothly. Although Tommy worked with a very small team of willing workers he nevertheless carried a big burden on his shoulders and a trial of this kind requires ten men or more to share the work. After the three days Tommy was still smiling and set a marvellous example to both competitors and spectators. I hope that his efforts will be appreciated and that next time his work load is shared.

The trial was sponsored by local companies and organisations and the crowd were well informed about trialling with large visual presentations about trialling.

I hope to be back in Belgium and Holland in April. Apologies but these were the only photos I have from the trip.

Thursday, 21 August 2014


Many of you will already be aware that our Border Collie shop is now open and running online.  details can be found on

We hope to add to it in the near future with other items including dog trailers similar to Lintran. Also new is a recent addition of Glycogen which is used to counter heat and dehydration problems.

2014 Trial season

Sorry for the lack of information, though FB is always updated.  Life events have somewhat taken over this summer and time has been short. This has clearly been a season of ups and downs. Mac started the season with a  open win and Skye too was running well.  Then Jake was injured tearing his ligaments in his toe in May. Now in August he has finally had his pins removed from his toes and hopefully will start to make a sound recovery.  he has 6/8 weeks on lead walks before he can entertain work , but to be honest for a high energy dog he has been an angel and seems to recognise that my nagging and depriving him is for his own good.

Next Skye had a soft tissue injury preventing her from work also she only had three trials before the nationals.  She recovered with two weeks to go and regained fitness quickly and to my surprise she was working well at home. I rarely worry about Skye at trials though sadly feel that at the nationals she is unlucky which is why Jake was to have run this year.

This is the first season where I have had so few trials in the run up to the nationals and finally as I returned from North Wales, Mac and the two pups and Spot developed gastric problems. So a testing time.

The nationals was a well organised affair with a long outrun but short drive element and the sheep overall were good, though the strong side wind did make for some difficult hearing at times. What made the nationals so pleasing to take part was the large road it attracted and the committee headed by Dick Roper did a good job in ensuring there was plenty on offer for all. The grandstand was very welcome and I hope this will become a regular presence at all nationals.

Skye ran first on day one and began really well taking hold of her sheep and taming them all the way until the  cross drive gates where two ewes suddenly stopped and looked back at her. Heading downhill they did not want to negotiate the gates and Skye was too close to flank cleanly and missed the gate losing 22 points in all. The sadly was the end of her run.

Mac running on Sunday has been in form having won two trials and qualified for Isle of Man double gather and Defaidty Hill trial. Normally a wide running dog he came in, as many dogs did, on his outrun and the cross wind made hearing difficult for him. Losing a bucket load of points he lifted well and negotiated the rest of the course without incident with good clean lines, shed and single. The points lost initially cost us dearly as we fell a point short of my friend James Gilman who finished in 6th place, though did not take part in the run off.  ah well always next year.

Congratulations to the three handlers who took part in the run off: James Howard, Derek Scrimgeour and David Wood. it was all the more special for James to win this year as he sadly lost his dog Zac just a few weeks ago very suddenly. But as the great Alan Jones said once,  "you only need one dog to win"

A special mention must also go to David wood who won on Sunday with Sal. He always rises to the challenge and his workmanlike runs are a joy for any judge to watch and an example to all handlers as to how to run a dog.

At Dovedale yesterday Mac again was in form narrowly missing the winning spot by a point to Thomas Longton, finishing 2nd but he was not to prove lucky in the double gather where his second packet were determined to miss the fetch gates. The standard overall was very high and the large crowd were well entertained.

CLINICS- Sadly I will now not be travelling to Australia in September, however I can confirm that I have now booked trips to Iceland running clinics and seminars as eel as Sweden. I have also been invited to judge the Belgium National in September so a busy schedule ahead.

Nij Vyas Sheepdogs

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Report from Clinics in Belgium and Sweden - Next Stop Australia

The mad month of May has long gone and only now have I found time to update my blog. The clinics in Belgium and Sweden were a huge success and there is a possibility that i may well be going back to Sweden in November. Two of the handlers are following me back to the UK in July. Many thanks to Henk and Martine in Belgium and Ingela in Sweden for organising superb clinics.

I observed a discussion on FB about "trainers from abroad" and decided that it would be a good idea to get comments from the participants on their experience.  The videos are available on my video channel but I will post them on here over the coming weeks.

Plans are underway for Australia and only a few places are left. Could I remind handlers that deposits are due soon and if you wish to book a place for the clinic in Victoria then please contact: Kathy Christian -Gooch on:

There has been very little time for trialling so far and my best laid plans for campaigning Jake this year have taken a set back with his leg being in plaster for 4 weeks. It came off yesterday and will still be off his exercise for 7 days more.

My work/life balance has taken a severe knock at the moment and seem to be working 7 days  a week and 3 nights.  Thanks to Ingela who introduced me to the "Mindfulness Daily App" which has, at least, temporarily changed my personality, and kept me sane.

The Sheepdog Experience season is well underway now and if anyone wants to book when they come for the World trials now is the time as only limited days are now available.

I have also opened the new Border Collie Shop and details can be found on:

Please share this with your friends and take a look yourself.

until next time

Nij Vyas Sheepdogs