Nation’s top dogs to compete in prestigious Henty trials

Dog-trials-web September 3, 2013

Competition is expected to be intense at Henty this year as the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the 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 Pedigree Murray Valley Yard Dog Championships, run by the NSW Yard Dog Association, is tipped to also attract over 100 dogs.

Pedigree Murray Valley Yard Dog Championships co-ordinator Robert Cox 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 over $1000 in prize money.

Entries are expected from NSW, Victoria and South Australia, including NSW champion “Butch’’ and his owner Peter Darmody, of West Wyalong.

Mr Cox’s own bitch, Pooinda Ruby, the 2013 National Kelpie Field Trial champion, will also compete.

Novice and improver classes will run Wednesday with the open yard heats held that afternoon – the open winner receives automatic entry to the NSW Yard Dog championships.

Open and improver class judge is Joe Spicer, Gogetta Kelpies, Hamilton, Victoria.

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 up a drenching race, through a draft and then on and off a truck.

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

“The top six dogs will go into the final – a yardstick score for the finals is generally 95,’’ Mr Cox said.

“Of the 15 regional trials in NSW, Henty is one of the biggest and most prestigious on the calendar.’’

A livestock contractor and working dog trainer from Manildra, Mr Cox will give puppy training demonstrations from noon each day with dogs aged from four to 12 months.

Up to 450 sheep will be needed for the sheep dog field trial heats and finals alone over the three days, with more than $4000 in prize money, ribbons and trophies up for grabs.

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

Both border collies and kelpies from almost every state in Australia will be competing.

NSW Sheep Dog Workers president Paul Darmody said Henty would be a stop over for competitors on their way to the Australian Supreme titles at Cobar, the following weekend.

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

The pair begins with 100 points, with points deducted by the judge for faults.

This year’s judge will be Jim Luce, of Cowra, NSW.