Don’t let the pink hair fool you. Even though she has a great sense of humour, Billie Richardson is all business when her and Jim get in the stock dog arena.
Surprisingly, Billie doesn’t come from an agricultural background. “About 15 years ago, I was living in a duplex in Bowness (Calgary) and attended the stock dog trails at the Calgary Stampede. I was hooked and knew that is what I wanted to do.”
After attending a herding clinic, and still working full-time as a mechanical engineering consultant, she started training Dan, her Australian Shepherd. Just a few short years later, she was crowned Champion in 2018 at the World Stock Dog Trials at the Calgary Stampede, and received a cheque for $10,000.
That was the TSN turning point for her. She now lives west of Okotoks, Alberta on her own acreage. Not only does she train her own dogs, but for clients as well. “Most of my clients are everyday ranchers who need a little help with their working cow dogs.”
She also travels around the world giving clinics.
The majority of working dog owners are cattle ranchers. “There are more cows in western Canada. But sheep can be tougher to herd, and require more finesse,” explains Richardson.
Billie is a member of the Calgary Stampede Stock Dog Committee and her goal is to get more dog owners involved in the competition.
She’s not satisfied just being a dog trainer. “My bucket list is to learn to train horses. There are a lot of similarities in the concepts of softness and pressure/release.”
From humble urban beginnings, Billie Richardson has become an inspiring force in the stock dog world.
Photos and story by Craig Couillard