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How Physically Fit Do You Need to be to Shear Your Own Sheep?

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Have you ever thought about shearing your own sheep but thought to yourself, I would never be able to handle my sheep to shear them because I’m just not fit enough?

Or have you tried shearing your own sheep to only find that shearing was too hard on your body and you just couldn’t do it? Making you give up before you start or experiencing pain that you don’t want to go through again.

My Experience of Fitness when I learnt to shear

I remember when I went to my first ever shearing school. It was at Waterloo station, Narromine NSW. There were about 9 of us learner shearers in attendance. The shearing coach was Mr Kingham. Our first lesson wasn’t on how to shear a sheep but, how to stay fit for shearing.

Mr Kingham was in his late 50’s. He was fulltime shearing and coaching. He told us that he still walked most afternoons after a days shearing and that walking helped his fitness and his muscles to be able to shear and stay healthy. This stuck with me and I have never forgotten it. That piece of advice has kept my body fit and strong even when I had prolonged periods of not shearing in the off season.

As a young shearer I played plenty of sports to keep fit. Including rugby, soccer, tennis, squash and running. My favourite way to stay fit and the most benefit I got was doing pilates. The stretching and strength training involved in pilates really helped my shearing and kept me strong as well as injury free. My favourite workout was the 10 minute Winsor Pilates program. I did this between 2 and 4 times a week.

Nowadays so many professional shearers are taught from the outset about fitness for shearing sheep. There are some online Personal Trainers who devise programs for full time shearers which help them reach their peak performance day in and day out. I use Matt Luxton in the UK even though I live in Australia. I’m finding now that a quick short session a couple of times a week really helps keep me fit and injury free.

Can I Really Be strong Enough Shear My Own Sheep?

Sheep shearing is a physical job and if you own sheep you know how stubborn they can be to handle and move them around. A little fitness goes a long way. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to shear so you don’t have to go to extremes to stay physically fit to shear your own sheep. A small routine of stretching and walking should be enough to get most people into shape to learn how to start to shear their own sheep.

Your body will go through a bit of physical stress when shearing. The body parts that tend to ache more than others are.

  • Back. It’s obvious as you are bending to shear.
  • Hamstrings. From stretching when bending for long periods.
  • Shoulders. From dragging sheep into position to be shorn.
  • Knees. From applying pressure when the sheep strains.
  • Thighs. From using your legs to lower yourself instead of stretching with your back.
  • Wrists. From holding the sheep and pushing the clipper.
  • Feet. Aching, from being on them all day.

This is a long list of aching body parts. But believe me, if you ease yourself into shearing your own sheep and don’t try to break any records and have plenty of breaks, then shearing your own sheep becomes a real pleasure and not something to dread.

I believe anybody with the right attitude can learn how to shear their own sheep. You don’t have to be “mega fit” but you do need a certain level of fitness to shear sheep. If you get yourself reasonably fit you will have the best feeling of achievement, when you master shearing your own flock of sheep.

Have you had an experience of shearing and it didn’t go so well or you would like to know more about shearing and getting fit for shearing, leave a comment and we can have a conversation.

Happy Shearing

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