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Out Of The Archives

Trial Tips from Kath Knox 3/22/21

Kathy Knox is one of only 3 women to have won the USBCHA National Finals Championship. She has also been reserve champion in a close fought competition that had many questioning whether or not she won that one too. Kathy’s experience as a competitor, trainer, clinician and farmer are second to none and she also has the reputation of being one of the nicest people around. Married to another renowned clinician, trainer and highly successful competitor, Jack Knox, they own and operate a sheep farm in Butler, MO.

Here is what Kathy had to say:

I’ve been asked to give 5 tips to new handlers on any subject In regards to the dogs. I almost want to give the same tip for all 5 tips. It’s all about the sheep.

Watch your sheep, learn to read them. The sheep will tell you all you need to know about any aspect of your dog. Why they’re doing what they’re doing. It always goes back to the sheep. Do everything in your power to try and study and understand them. If you understand and know how to read sheep, your timing will be right.

When looking for instruction, find a method that you feel comfortable with. Try and stay with that methodology if possible. Don’t subject yourself and your dog to all the different training ideas out there, it will confuse you and certainly confuse your dog. There are like-minded trainers. If you do your research you can find them. If you’re unsure about a clinician, spectate first. Don’t let anyone pressure you into trialing if you don’t feel you're ready. Trust your instinct if it’s telling you to wait. This is you and your dog’s journey, not anyone else’s. You don’t want to hurt your confidence or your dog’s by jumping into trialing before you’re ready.

When you do start trialing don’t be stuck to the post. If your dog isn’t listening, get to him or her as quickly as possible, get control of them and exhaust your sheep. If you’re concerned you can’t get control, have someone with more experience ready to help you exhaust.

Remember that the sheep should be your primary concern. If it wasn’t for the sheep you wouldn’t be at the trial. Respect that and take care of them. If your dog is chasing, that’s as abusive or more in some cases, than a grip, Trial hosts are offering their sheep that they care for all year long for us to compete on. If we don’t take care of them there may be fewer and fewer trials. Trialing began by shepherds seeing who had the best dog, but not at the cost of the sheep. Then and now they should always come first.

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