Keepstone Farm

All Breed Herding Dog Training



About Keepstone



Susan's Dogs

Client Dogs



Contact Us

Herding Lessons

Overview  Lessons are given by Susan Rhoades, and offered for all stock dog breeds or crosses.  Students can also schedule practice time slots.  Dogs can start as puppies or adults. Beginner and advanced dogs (as well as novice and veteran owners) are equally welcome. Lesson frequency is flexible.  Although the more frequent the lessons the faster your dog will progress, you do not have to commit to any particular schedule of lessons.  It is not necessary to have sheep at home. Your herding dog can learn to herd without home practice.


About the Trainer  Susan Rhoades, co-owner of Keepstone Farm, is the trainer.  Susan has over ten years experience training most of the herding breeds on sheep and other livestock.  She is an AKC and AHBA herding trial judge and also actively trials her own Border Collies in USBCHA, AKC, ASCA and AHBA events.


Susan advocates the herding sport for all herding dogs, not just the classic Border Collie. She particularly encourages owners of AKC registered herding breeds to trial their dogs to keep selection for strong herding instinct a priority in the AKC herding breeds.  She will work with you and your dog to help your dog realize its potential.  She will help you find your niche in the herding world that meets your personal goals and the ability of your dog. See Susan's Dogs to learn more about their accomplishments.  See Client Dogs to see the breeds Susan has worked with.  Watch a video of Susan training Breezewood Kennel's AKC CH "Steele."


Herding Lesson Goals  Lessons are tailored to meet the individual dog’s personality and needs, while putting structure to the natural instinct. Susan will talk to you about your herding goals:  Exercise and instinct outlet for a pet dog? Recreational herding or competition just for fun?  Working dog on the home farm?  Serious competition with an eye on a championship title in one of the herding associations? 

Puppies  Puppies are the ideal age to start learning herding, but it is not necessary to have a puppy.  For serious work, puppies should be at least six months old.  Contact Susan if you would like to arrange exposure to livestock for younger puppies.  (Australian Shepherd, Penny, owned by Jessica Miller.)

As Penny

Adult Dogs Adult dogs can also learn to herd. This English Shepherd was raised as a companion dog and didn't start herding until she was 3-1/2 years old.  She's shown here with typical overexhuberance at the instinct test, to good discipline and control at a trial class, and an AHBA blue in just over a year, with just once weekly lessons and no home practice. (Pippin, owned by Caryl Buck.)

ES Pippin   ES Pippin  ES Pippin

Herding Newbies  Novice owners and dogs will start with evaluation sessions (instinct testing) to determine the dog's herding drive and style.  Susan is frank with owners if she doesn't feel an individual dog has what it takes for the goals the owner hopes to achieve.

Herding Veterans  Veteran dogs or handlers can jump right in with a lesson.  Susan will evaluate where they stand, and with the owner, set specific goals for the future.  Veterans are welcome for either long term training to advance skills overall, or short term training to work on specific issues.


Virginia: Susan's base of operation is her farm (see About Keepstone) where she maintains a training flock of about 150 sheep, at 412 Russell Road, just outside of Berryville, Virginia, near Winchester.  Keepstone Farm is where most students schedule their lessons.  Contact Susan for lesson and practice fees and to schedule times at Keepstone, which must be reserved in advance.

Maryland:  Susan also teaches dogs and handlers from beginning to competition level sheep herding techniques at Hog Dog Productions (, 470 Ski Lane in Millersville, Maryland, just 15 minutes south of the BWI airport in central Maryland.  If Susan has released you, you may also rent individual time for practice. All sheep lessons and practice arrangements at Hog Dog Productions must be reserved and are made through Karen Chandler of Hog Dog Productions.  

Herding is great fun for you and your dog.  Give it a try!  Contact Susan at for available lesson times and fees.


Farm Etiquette

To ensure an atmosphere safe and enjoyable for everyone, the following are Keepstone's common courtesy and etiquette policies, which all visitors and clients are expected to honor.

--This is a sport for everyone. Help keep it a fun, enjoyable experience with camaraderie for all, from youth to elderly, beginner to advanced, amateur or professional. Leave dog politics and negative comments outside the Keepstone Farm gate.

--24-hour cancellation notice is required to avoid full charge for missed appointment.

--Lesson and visitor dogs are to be kept on leash while on Keepstone Farm grounds, unless being worked in a lesson.

--Check with trainer before starting to work stock.

--Check with trainer before entering fields with a guardian llama or Great Pyrenees guardian dog.

--Don't let your dog approach or sniff another dog without first asking the owner's permission.

--Clean up solid waste from your dog and deposit in a bag in a trash can.

--If your dog is prone to nuisance barking, please take steps (visual barriers, not parking in high foot traffic areas, etc.) to discourage it.

--5 mph speed limit while on Keepstone Farm property.   Dogs and livestock have right of way. Don't assume they will get out of the way. Many are not car or street wise.

--At trials, do not sit next to or talk to the judge or scribe until the class is over.


counting sheep
Berryville, VA

Copyright © Susan Rhoades. All rights reserved.