Nation’s best to compete in sheep and yard dog trials

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Laurie Slater, of Murrumbateman, won the Exelpet Sheep Dog Trial for the fourth successive time in 2015.

Competition is expected to be intense at Henty this year as the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the Exelpet/Pedigree Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.

Run under the auspices of the NSW Sheepdog Workers Incorporated, the sheep field trial is set to attract more than 100 dogs and their workers from around Australia.

The Exelpet/Pedigree Murray Valley Yard Dog Championships run by the NSW Yard Dog Association, is tipped to also attract more than 100 dogs.

Championships co-ordinator Peter Darmody said the event was one of the most prestigious on the calendar, and would draw the cream of the nation’s best dogs competing for more than $5000 in prize money plus trophies and prizes.

The maiden trial will be held on Tuesday, followed by the novice and open classes on Wednesday.

The finals are due to get underway from 1pm on Thursday, with the winner receiving automatic entry to the 2017 NSW Yard Dog Championships.

Dogs will be fresh from last month’s Australian Yard Dog Championships at West Wyalong, and the Rabobank Classic Darling River Championships at Wentworth.

Defending champion Bill Luff, of Gundagai, Kevin Howell, of Eugowra, Fred Raines, Coolac, and Neil Taylor, Holbrook, are expected to be among the top line competitors.

The event is designed to demonstrate everyday skills a working dog would use on a farm.

Each entrant has 12 minutes to gather a mob of about 18 sheep, herd them through a draft, and then on and off a truck.

Starting on a score of 100, points are deducted for livestock and mishandling breakaway sheep and ineffective work.

Up to 450 sheep will be needed for the sheep dog field trial heats and finals alone over the three days.

The event is limited to an open trial, with no encourager or novice class, and handlers entering their four best dogs.

Co-ordinator Paul Darmody said the event would draw both top-line competitors and younger handlers competing for prize money in excess of $3000.

Mr Darmody said the event would attract entries from NSW, Queensland and Victoria on their way to the Supreme Championships in Western Australia.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.50.53 AMThe 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 sheep dog trial winner, Laurie Slater, of Murrumbateman, will return to defend his title.

The event is a three-sheep field trial, requiring the dog to move the sheep around a designed course.

The dog begins by casting around the sheep, bringing them back to the worker.

The dog and worker then move around a marked course through obstacles of a race and bridge before penning them within 15 minutes.

Victorian judge Michael Deppeler, Hamilton, will take on the judging role at Henty.