2016: Traveling through Europe

Finland and other journeys

2015 was a very turbulent year, having had a lot of setbacks and unexpectedly loosing Jaff. Jaff was a brilliant work dog, an unbelievably strong and brave dog, a loyal partner that never ever let me down.

In 2016 Jaff’s son Gain provided hope for the future. He qualified for the CSC team that represented the Netherlands this year in Finland. Let’s try to share some highlights with you, starting in


where Wim and I had a great weekend in Denmark. Two lovely days of giving clinic. Really loved seeing the dogs improve, meeting new people and seeing familiar faces and how much they have improved since we last met. Our dogs had a great time at the beach.


The 5th European Nursery Championship was held in Heteren, organised by Ellen and Serge v/d Zweep. This year both Tom and Gain were allowed to compete and in the end I was over the moon with the way both Tom and Gain worked. It was great to see Gain maturing, and becoming a reliable all-round dog. And it is brilliant to see that the training I had in mind for Tom, has proven the right way to go, with him showing continues improvement. We had a brilliant weekend, spent with friends at a very well organised trial. Gain made it into thefinals.

gain tom

You can read the complete report on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanne.lejuez/posts/1067779783281077

We went to Poland twice this year, in March and August and we visited Denmark three times: in March, July and August.

During the year there is always coming home, both Wim and I herding, welcoming guest at our bed and breakfast and me teaching and giving clinics. In

April  and May we didn’t leave the country.

By the end of May Kyra got badly injured after winning the 3rd World Trial Qualifier the weekend before. On a field she has worked on 1000nd of times she hit the corner post at full speed. After two operations she is recovering well.  Although she is and might never be back to her old top form, we are hoping that she will recover slowly and maybe even “fully”.

Big thanks to my mum, who has taken massive effort in giving Kyra the best treatment she could have and the best chance of a good recovery. I couldn’t have given her the time and quiet recovery that she needed to have the best possible outcome. I have missed her dearly, and it broke my heart every time I left her at my mums, but I know it was the best for her.



We had a lovely trip to Spain and Portugal, giving a 4 day clinic in Spain.

Tom & Amber mated in Portugal, the pups were born in August 🙂

4-dogs gain hemp

Shortly after that we had the BCCN Dutch National, in which Gain made it into the final making 6th place and placing in the Dutch team.



I judged the Storlamb Cup in Denmark, a great and challenging trial held by Peter Hélen and Anna Östman. On a great big field two days of trialing saw 40+ runs both days. The running was impressive, and both days were great to judge.

We were so happy that Amber & Tom’s pups were born when we were at home and that I could hold them first.



The big travel in August and September

started with an eventful trip to Poland when we were  getting lost nearly 3 hours in the woods east of Berlin . We were only going to have a “short walk” when we encountered a lot of wasp nests. When Tom and Hemp were getting badly stung and we lost our sence of direction in our panic. Thanks to Wim, who heroically got all the wasps out of Tom and Hemp their fur and found back the parkingplace, we made it to Poland. Later than expected, but in one piece 😉

We had two great days at Martha Chmiel’s place in Poland, where I was giving clinics. It was brilliant to see the progress of people I met before, and meet new people and their dogs. We spent Monday enjoying some training of our own.


On Tuesday we left to Denmark and stayed a few days with Peter Helen and Anna Ostman. They were very busy clipping, so on Friday morning, after spending two lovely days working the dogs a bit and enjoying some relax time, we helped with moving some sheep. Tom likes the job of taking sheep over the road, so seeing he wasn’t in the CSC he got to do that job. The young ones Tiny and Eryn had a great play with the sheep, but Hemp had to make due with walks, seeing he is a bit too much of a loose cannon yet 😉

Friday we landed at Annette and Dennis Melhede their place and we had two great days of clinic with a lot of familiar faces and lots of laughs! We also had a nice play on Monday morning with our dogs.

This was a brilliant trip! At home all was well taken care of by Christianne and Luss, who did a tremendous job tending to the animals! Ria and Niek took care of the home-front when we went to Finland, just  a few days after we got back in the Netherlands. Big thanks to them both for all their effort and big thanks to everyone who made these trips so much fun!

We landed back on Monday night late and on Wednesday we flew from Amsterdam to Finland to take part in the Continental Championship 2016. Due to our schedule we had not much if any real preparation time and booked flights and accommodation last minute. But it turned out to be a great trip!

We flew in the morning and after a long day of traveling we landed at our log cabin. It was a lovely place, no shower, television and an outside loo. But to be honest, that made it even more fun. On Thursday we went to the field, it was a rainy and dull day, but after the briefing there was a great reception with loads to eat and drink. The Dutch team was in good spirit and it was very enjoyable! Friday the trial started. The field was reasonably flat, with trees on all sides and a hedgerow in the middle. The qualifier was held on the right part which was a nice setup and it looked like it would be a very tough competition. The herd, Dorset and Finn sheep (this being a native breed of Finland) were looking well cared for with lambs and ewes.


The running was tough, the sound seemed to be bad in some places, where the dogs did not respond. The sheep pulled hard to the left and shedding wasn’t easy either. So points stayed low until the end of the day. The wind started to drop and the runnings got better. Out of the last 10 competitors 6 were in the top 8. Only 2 out of the earlier morning made it to the top 8.

On Saturday we had start number 6, enough to see how things would be on this day, so we had enough time to prepare. There was a severe storm broadcasted and the wind had picked up a lot already in the morning. Gain went out well, lifted good, but then for a second missed my whistling. This caused us a little wobble in the top of our fetch. The drive went well, and then the shed came off well after a little time. The pen went ok, but just like the day before, the close work was tricky. Then the single, as the sheep were very tame, we didn’t have a big gap. But thinking I might not get much more of a chance again we took it, and Gain did it!

After that we had a very long time to wait, for even with a score of 192 I knew we might not be safe. But in the end even though a lot of good runs came after us, we stayed 6th and made it into the final.

Just to be in the final with Gain, a son of Eryri Jaff, a year after Jaff passed away and Gain only being 2 ½ years old, was a great feeling. Gain was the youngest dog of the competition, and he did me proud. In the final my lack of preparation and his lack of experience played us parts. He had a good 1st outrun, reasonable fetch, taking in account that the sound conditions were really bad. He took the look back quick, but then I made a judgement error. I stopped him, thinking I would play it safe as he was going a bit straight, expecting the sound further up the field might not be good. Bad decision, he got confused, and that cost us a lot. The whole run was hard work, with the sound totally disappearing on big parts and Gain then hearing me all of a sudden with hard voice and whistle, not understanding what he had done wrong. We battled on, but missed the cross drive gates. Then we had to start the international shed. We started off well and kept going nicely. But unfortunately we got stuck with one lamb, whose mother was one of the marked sheep. With the clock ticking I decided to try a single, but although we got the lamb of, the ewes broke away at our back, and we didn’t manage to hold them, with Gain getting confused in his inexperience.

csc2016gain csc2016shed

We ended 9th and I am very proud of Gain and am looking forward to the future.

We landed back on Monday night and I left on Thursday again to participate at the Seven Sisters Trial. This time Wim stayed home and Maartje and I went to Sussex in the early hours of Thursday morning and I mean like REALLY early. After finding our hotel that ended up being no good due to the lack of safe parking, we were invited to stay at the trial hosts Zoe, Sam and Ruth Stannistreet. We had an absolutely brilliant time, with unbelievable hospitality, and great trialing. It is said that I might have hogged the quad bike, but I plead innocence 😀


Maartje did great on Saturday with her Taff, only being put in 2nd place with the last run of the day, and she got to run in the double gather final! Gain and Tom did well, especially in the finals on Sunday: Tom made a 3rd place and Gain who worked a tricky bundle of sheep won this trial!

sevensistersproud sevensisters

Not much time to be at home, because on Thursday I flew to Finland with Marit Bos, where I was judging the Finnish National. We stayed in a farm house that we had all to ourselves. It was a lovely place and we had a homy time relaxing in the evening. The trial was held on another lovely tree lined field with the same type of sheep as at the CSC, only this time also Gotland sheep mixes as well. The first day I saw a lot of sheep pulling hard to the right, and dogs struggling to keep them on line. Also the close work, especially in the shedding ring, caused problems, with the sheep being tame and sticking together. Sunday the drive was left handed instead of right like it had been on Saturday. This day it was the cross drive gate that was the challenge. Some nice runs lost a fair chunk of points at this gate, misjudging it and missing it, mostly on the top side. Marit and I had a great weekend, although we were both absolutely knackered when we got back.

At the end of September Gain became reserve Dutch National Champion 2016 at 2 1/2 years of age!! We had an eventfull final, with Gain making a horrible tumble in the second outrun. My heart stopped, and for a while my fear got the better of me. But he was ok and we had a good run after that! I am so proud and grateful to have him in my life!!
Gain was 1st of Sunday’s World Trial qualifier and 2nd over the whole weekend! Tom was just out of the Double Gather final on the Sunday by 1 point, but he is starting to grow into a lovely dog.

And to have Gain make Reserve National Champion, the year after his dad and half sister made National and Reserve National Champion , I can’t be more proud of my dogs.

tweede dutch


By now it is October and Wim and I just got back from the Czech Republic, where I was invited to judge and give some clinics. I met new people and saw the beauty of another very different European country.

All in all it has been a lot of traveling and a lot of miles these last months, will be leaving for Portugal next week. But after that we will pick up where we left off in May, get some more time for my own dogs and meet up with the friends that are closer to home.

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