Learn more about the Churchmount approach
How did I get started with sheepdog training?
I began training sheepdogs with Glyn Jones’ book, A Way of Life in 1996. I went to my first sheepdog trial in 1997 and soon fell under the guidance of longtime sheepdog handler, Norman Deacon. Norman and I spent hours working dogs, travelling to trials and handling sheep. In 1998 we did a lambing together of 1800 ewes outdoor which meant massive workloads for ourselves and the dogs. Norman and his type of dogs suited me really well. I am always governed by trying to find a dog that is a working dog first and foremost but is capable of competing at top-level competition when trained out fully.
In 2000 after winning a place on the Irish Team, qualifying for the first World Sheepdog Trial and running an international, I decided to change career (in 2000, three of the 60 dogs in the international were working dogs that I had trained).
What does Churchmount value in sheepdog breeding?
I was drawn back to dog training in 2009, first in the form of police dogs and IPO sport, and then in 2015 I returned to sheepdog training and sheepdog trials. I came back with a view to breeding dogs as well. Under the Churchmount Working Sheepdogs name, I breed and trial sheepdogs for the things I value
Stamina, power and balance.
My goal is to breed & train working dogs that are capable of competing at the top levels of sheepdog trials and competitions.
Check out my sheepdog training videos & guides and support Churchmount Working Sheepdogs.
I aim to spark new ideas for training and handling by sharing my experiences & interviewing top handlers.
I’ve been fortunate to meet working dog handlers both from Ireland and around the world. I love to interview them and find out about the different types of sheep and how they work or the specific climate conditions that handlers and dogs may have to deal with.
When I came back to sheepdogs in 2015 I got to know the handler and trainer, Gwyn Jones ‘Penmachno’. I spent hours talking to him and I had it in my mind to ask him to let me record some of our conversations. Unfortunately, I never did record him but the idea did lead me to start making audio interviews with handlers I knew and posting them to Soundcloud. My reasoning was that I thought it would be nice to include other people in the conversations that I was already having, as perhaps they might be in a remote place in Australia or the US and may not get much opportunity to meet other sheepdog handlers and trainers.
This lead me to being invited to be the interviewer on the CSJ Away With Dogs YouTube programme. I got to travel around and visit 15 of the worlds best handlers and find out about their experience. I started a Churchmount YouTube channel too and I have a playlist of interviews with people who are dog-related or trainers and range from crook makers to cowboys!
Sheepdogs have brought me to all corners of Ireland and introduced me to handlers and dogmen everywhere.
I have been all over the UK travelling to and competing in internationals. I have judged sheepdog trials in Ireland, Wales, England, Poland, Denmark, Austria, Texas, Oregon and California. I have given clinics in the US and Europe. I have worked sheep and dogs in the Basque Country, the Alps, Nevada deserts and Irish mountains. It has been an unbelievable time for a sheepdog enthusiast like me!
It has also given me the opportunity to interview a range of trainers and clinicians about their experiences and advice for sheepdog trials and training.