Before Dusty and I go too much further with herding trials, I need to learn more about stock handling. There a few options available, most geared either to backpackers who want to try stockwork as an adventure holiday, or to graziers looking to improve production rates and meat quality. Nothing specifically targetting middleaged city dwellers trying to herd sheep with their cattle dog.
Wombramurra Station near Nundle in NSW looked good, with flexible packages including a 'work for your board' option, however despite its great web site, the contact numbers don't work and it looks like it might have changed hands.
Cruickshank's is a bed and breakfast on a sheep property near where I go for herding lessons, it might be possible to negotiate some work experience.
Leconfield offers a Jillaroo/Jackaroo school, which teaches a whole range of skills I have limited use for such as shoeing a horse and building bush furniture, but they cover stock handling.
Jim Lindsay of LSS runs schools that teach Low Stress Stockhandling, delevoping an attitude that promotes harmony between man and animal. "We can put ourselves in a position to be able to consider the situation from an animal's point of view and therefore have an obligation to do so. When we have knowledge of how an animal reacts to different situations we can use that information to effect. Being an effective stockhandler is about knowledge, understanding, attitude and patience.
Working Dog Schools cover the basic fundamentals of working a herding dog. Herding dogs are those that instinctively have a desire to go around their stock and keep the stock together and bring them back to the handler. The schools are designed to give the handler an insight into how working dogs think and want to operate. The most important thing in a working dog is to have a desire to work. When that is established the handler must understand how to control that desire. Heavy emphasis is placed on letting the dog work as naturally as it wants in order to get the job done. Sometimes this takes a considerable amount of understanding on behalf of the handler. Understanding this process and putting it into practice can be very rewarding."