[audio] In conversation with Serge Van Der Zweep

Serge Van Der Zweep

I asked Serge if he would mind giving me some insight into how he got started, which handlers influenced him the most, what advice would he give an open handler and how he prepares for a World Sheepdog Trial Final.

I hope you enjoy listening

My old buddy Norman Deacon used to say that it was hard to train the sort of dog he liked because he only had 20 acres and eight or ten sheep. Norman would say ‘how can I compete with those Scotch men in their big places, with big numbers of sheep, for breaking out a good dog’. Despite his conditions he qualified for the Irish Team on a few occasions. He also bred a Supreme winner in Toddy Lambe’s Craig and a World Trial podium finisher, Serge Van Der Zweep’s Glen.

Norman taught me everything he could in the time I spent with him. He was very open and free with his experience and ideas and indeed he needed to be creative in order to maximise his dog training facilities.

Podium at the World Trial

When the first World Trial came about I was under the assumption that the continental handlers would be at a significant competitive disadvantage, in terms of experience, training grounds and quality sheep. I was pleasantly surprised to see Serge Van Der Zweep win 3rd position in that Bala World Trial.

This year it is nice to see two of the top three places with European handlers. But more than anything, since I returned to sheepdogs three years ago, I am very interested in how some of the European handlers are training their dogs. Many of them have less than ideal facilities with possibly even snow on the ground for 4 or 5 months of the year, or flat featureless ground. Many of them hold down a day job that bears not the slightest relation to farming or sheep handling, yet their dogs can be trained to a very high standard and their handling is at a level to compete with the best anywhere.

I allowed that Dutchman, Serge Van Der Zweep, would be a good fellow to question on how he does things . For anyone who doesn’t know, aside from many National and continental wins, Serge has three 3rd place finishes and a 2nd place at World Trial level. On top of that his dog Gary sired four of the 16 finalists in this years World Trial.

I asked Serge if he would mind giving me some insight into how he got started, which handlers influenced him the most, what advice would he give an open handler and how he prepares for a World Sheepdog Trial Final.

I mentioned Norman and how he was open with his experience and ideas. He used to say ‘there’s a lot of people wouldn’t tell you this Paddy because they wouldn’t want the risk of you beating them’.

Gwyn Jones Penmachno used to tell me that he didn’t pay too much attention to the competition but instead, went out to beat the course. Gwyn was a very helpful fellow too and like Norman, I miss having him to draw on for advice now.

I always think it is a great sign of confidence in man when he is not trying to hide things from you. I have always found Serge to be one of those fellows like Norman or Gwyn, a fellow that is confident in his own ability and not afraid to lend some encouragement or advice.. so I was delighted when he agreed to give the interview.

 

Coming in Part 2 - Serge shares principles he makes decisions by

This interview is the first of 2 parts. Serge likes to breed dogs and in Part2 of the interview he talks about his experience and the principles he makes decisions by.