This is a very frank interview! Someone said to me that they have heard all the Churchmount interviews on soundcloud and that this one is by far the best. This one is where the world renowned Nigel Watkins is talking sheepdogs. Nigel is true to form with no holds barred!
Nigel tells me about how Foot and Mouth disease closed down sheepdog trials in 2001. But it was different then because trials could reopen at any time. ‘Nobody knew when, nothing was cancelled’ . Whereas this time with the Covid, everything is cancelled for the year. Nationals, International and the World Trial are all cancelled.
In this interview, Nigel goes on to talk about trialling and judging internationally. he talks about how preparation is very important now and how all the top handlers prepare their dogs for sheepdog trials. Nigel started young at maybe 13 or 14 years old. By the time he turned 17, he had made the Welsh National Sheepdog team. He goes on to talk about handler style and his style of working a dog. Peg is a bitch everyone associates with Nigel, so I asked him to tell me about her.
Nigel said that he likes a dog that keeps you on your toes ”one that keeps you alive”
Nigel supplied the sheep for the World Trial in 2008 and he told what kind of sheep we need to have in order to put on a top quality trail. He emphasizes the need for them to be consistent and fit in order for a trial to be fair and to reward the best handling.
Nigel told me how you might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks but you still need to train them. He said that we need to train them in our work to keep them honest. He said not to allow the old dogs to take short cuts. He said that they are clever and can start to take short cuts!
What’s it like to come 2nd in the World Trial or 2nd in the Internation Supreme Final?
This is a tricky question. It is something I always wonder about. I was wondering is 2nd brilliant or brutal?!
I asked Nigel and said that he need not answer if he would prefer not to. Nigel didn’t shirk at any time and answered this question very honestly and I appreciate him for allowing me to leave this in the interview. Nigel went on to give me alot of insight and we discussed judging and placing sheep in the top of the field at trials. We talked about how some days, certain dogs will have a method or style that suits the sheep better than others. It is as if they have the correct strategy on the day.
Nigel has helped me on more than one occasion and I thank him for taking the time to share his thoughts with all of us in this way.