The Traveling Herding Teacher

The Traveling Herding Teacher

by Bob Vest as told to Kathleen Freeman Kelly

The Traveling Herding Teacher contains the teachings of Bob Vest, a herding dog trainer in high demand, who traveled endless miles and conducted hundreds of clinics and private lessons annually. Before Bob’s passing in 2009, he traveled to Scotland to have his teachings put together as a collaboration with Kathleen Freeman Kelly. The result is a collection of herding concepts, philosophy, and instruction that represents his years of development and experience as a stockman, herding judge, and herding instructor. The Traveling Herding Teacher should provide an invaluable reference for anyone interested in herding, whether for use on the farm or ranch or in competitions, with many animals or a few, and with any breed of herding dog.

“When you are working your dog, you have to believe that the dog can do it, that you can do it, and that you and your dog can do it together. If you will be persistent, keep your sights on your goals and believe in yourself and your dog, you will be able to accomplish many things.” –Bob Vest

Bob Vest and Lynn

How This Book Came About


“Bob Vest was a brilliant trainer and teacher – this book is a bible especially if you have ever worked with him and a must have if you are starting out. Tons of great ideas and concepts for learning your own way.” -T.A.

“My copy arrived and it is awesome!! Thank you for publishing this book!” -M.S.

“…a very good read. I had been to several of [Bob Vest] clinics back in the day, and enjoyed them very much.” C.L.

“Anyone interested in working dogs of any breed should purchase this book. I had many opportunities to talk to Bob, attend his clinics, and the pleasure of being judged at AKC and ASCA events by him. He was always extremely positive, helpful and gave freely of himself and his experience, or, as I call it, Bob’s bag of tricks. I remember running a dog under him at the Australian Cattle Dog national and I was a little upset with my dog. Bob told me, ‘If you’d just tell him he’s a good dog, praise him, even if he’s not right, he’ll do much better.’ Darned if he wasn’t right. Bob had the gift of showing us a better way of seeing our dogs and ourselves.” -C.W.

“I’ve looked forward to this book coming out! After being to clinics and workshops where he is often referred to or quoted, I regret that I never actually got a chance to attend his training sessions. We are often told by our trainer that you or your dog, have to ‘go to the fair’. I’m told that was a Bobism.” -R.H.

“Of the many things I learned from Bob, an important one he shared was ‘try to look at things from your dogs perspective’. Sometimes I forget that and I can hear Bob’s voice. I am so glad Bob took the time to put his experience and knowledge on paper.” -L.J.

“Bob had been our friend for many years. Glad this book is finally out. Everyone who herds will benefit from this book, I am sure. I have put in my order today.” -J.R.

“I ordered mine…I can’t wait…I loved Bob’s clinics and learned so much from him.” – C.L.

“So glad it has finally been published!” -S.D.

“Awesome. Just ordered my copy! I have been waiting for this book.” -M.O.

My daughter is going to be so excited about this … – My daughter is going to be so excited about this gift. That is what she is too! A traveling Herding instructor. – NVD

Like it – I liked the book. Basic but real good for beginner. I never got to see Bob Vest because he past away before he was coming to Canada. I have train with everyone that said they learn from him. Information did help clear some things up though. – BC

Finally the teachings of Bob Vest … – My herding friends and I have been hearing about this book for years. We are so excited this book finally has made it to fruition. We know that Bob was excited to share his herding techniques and now having a book to refer to is priceless. – IMK

Great book – JD

Recommended – This book was recommended for someone who is interested in herding with their dog. Anonymous


Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 – What You Need to Know About Herding

Chapter 3 – The Concept of Mastery

Chapter 4 – For Those New to Herding

Chapter 5 – Building Interest

Chapter 6 – The Call Off

Chapter 7 – The Flanks

Chapter 8 – The Stop

Chapter 9 – The Back and Out

Chapter 10 – The Walk Up

Chapter 11 – The Look Back

Chapter 12 – Influencing the Eye of the Sheep

Chapter 13 – Introduction to Whistles

Chapter 14 – Trialing

Chapter 15 – The Outrun and Lift

Chapter 16 – The Fetch

Chapter 17 – The Drive

Chapter 18 – The Pen

Chapter 19 – Shed and Split

Chapter 20 – Introduction to Working Ducks and Cattle

Chapter 21 – Common Myths and Misconceptions About Herding

How This Book Came About

Bob Vest

Bob Vest was born in Vinton, Iowa, in 1937. Bob credits the work ethics instilled in him by his parents as one of the building blocks in his dog training program. That is, that you never start a job that you don’t finish and that you never rush to complete a job at the sacrifice of not doing it correctly.

Bob’s parents provided great support for him. He credits his mother’s support as giving him the freedom to pursue his dreams, whether it was with horses or dogs. His father and grandfather both were quite accomplished dog handlers and horsemen. Their influence on Bob taught him how to work with dogs and horses to obtain the best the dogs and horses had to offer.

Bob’s father allowed Bob to own and train his own dogs throughout his childhood. Even when Bob’s training techniques were not always the ones that his father would have chosen, he was allowed to pick his own path.

It wasn’t until years later that the full impact of his father’s approach became apparent to Bob; to find our own path and the balance that exists within each of us. Bob believed that this balance within ourselves is what we transfer to our dogs in our training programs.

Bob’s philosophy and experience of over 50 years of handling dogs and people was a great asset. He always liked to get ‘into the minds’ of the dogs and the people with whom he worked. His philosophy and experience provide the content of this book, The Traveling Herding Teacher.


Dr. Kathleen Freeman Kelly 

Kathleen Freeman Kelly is a veterinarian specializing in clinical pathology (laboratory diagnosis). She grew up showing horses in the mid-West, later developing an interest in dog training (obedience, tracking, and herding). She first started herding the U.D.T. Shetland Sheepdog, competing in newly organized A.K.C. trails for herding breeds, as well as A.S.C.A and A.H.B.A. trials. She moved on to working with Border Collies and trialing in the USA in U.S.B.C.H.A. recognized events. She first met Bob by attending clinics on herding and formed a lasting friendship with Bob and his wife, Rachel.

After moving to the United Kingdom, Kathleen continued to correspond with Bob and Rachel and gained experience in sheep farming and trailing in the UK with her late husband and well-known trialist, John Angus MacLeod. She and Rachel eventually persuaded Bob to visit the UK and put his philosophy and techniques on paper. Following Bob’s death the project lay dormant for several years, but she finally decided to complete the project as a tribute to Bob and his teaching.

Kathleen continues to farm on the shores of Loch Tay and the hillsides of Ben Lawers and Ben Ghlas in Perthshire, with her husband, Iain Kelly. She enjoys judging, training sheep dogs, and working with sheep, as well as doing her clinical pathology for a laboratory based in West Yorkshire, England. She has trialed extensively in the UK and in Scandinavia, as well as judging sheep dog trials in the UK and continental Europe. She judged the Scottish National Finals in 2011, with Mr. Neil McVicar. She tries to help anyone interested in learning more about sheep dogs and trialing. She is proud to be involved in the production of the book, The Traveling Herding Teacher.

ISBN: 978-1-939054-28-9

Softcover: Perfect bind

Trim Size: 7.0″ x 10.0″

Pages: 196


  • Education / Rural
  • Sports and Recreation: Training
  • Education: Non-formal
  • Animals: Dogs / Herding
  • Animals: Livestock

The Traveling Herding Teacher

 The Traveling Herding Teacher

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