BUDDING sheepdog handlers are being offered a chance of some top-class training courtesy of the National Sheep Association Scotland, which has organised a short series of one-day courses starting this week.

The first will be held this Friday, October 13, on Joyce Campbell's Armadale Farm in Sutherland, where 2014 World Sheep Dog Trial Champion Michael Shearer, from Caithness, will put 12 handlers and their dogs through their paces.

The second course will be held on Friday October 20, at Scott Renwick's Inverbroom Farm, Ullapool, Ross-shire, with the tuition delivered by sheep dog trainer and trial judge, Alan MacDonald from Fearn.

NSA stressed that these sheepdog handling courses were designed for all, from absolute beginner and novices, through to trial standard, as long as they have their own dog. The training is adapted to suit all individual needs and will teach them how to handle and train a working dog using body language and natural communication, and is also aimed at giving confidence to novice sheepdog handlers.

Mr Renwick said that, over the years, he had been asked by lots of people where they could go to get some training on sheep dog handling – so he approached NSA Scotland to see if they could help pull something together.

“We are delighted that Michael Shearer and Alan MacDonald have agreed to impart some of their years of theory and practical hands-on experience with sheep and dogs, to anyone that wants to gain from their unrivalled expertise on a world-wide stage” he said.

The courses will run from 9.00am to approximately 5.00pm (with a break for lunch) depending on numbers. The cost of each course is free to fully paid up members of the National Sheep Association. Non-members can sign up beforehand to an annual NSA Membership Subscription of £55 (under 27’s £27.50) or pay a one off course fee of £30 and for under 27’s £15.

Booking is essential and open to the first 12 individuals and their dog entered for each course – and the closing date for entries is today, Tuesday October 10!

Information and entry forms are available from NSA Scotland Event Organiser and Secretariat Euan Emslie on: 07718 908523 or email euan@nsascotland.org