Yard and field trials to attract nation’s best working dogs to Henty

September 7, 2014

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Laurie Slater, front, and his dog Wondara Sparkle, and fellow competitors at the 2013 Henty Sheep Dog Trials.

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 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 over $7,000 in prize money.

Entries are expected from NSW, Victoria and South Australia, including Victorians Joe Spicer and Adam James, Rex Hocking, of SA, and Kevin Howell, of NSW.

The maiden trial will be held on Tuesday, followed by 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 NSW Yard Dog Championships.

The open and improver class judge is Larry Wallace, Dalgety, NSW.

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.

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 classes, and handlers entering their four best dogs.

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

Co-ordinator Paul Darmody said the event would draw both top-line competitors and younger handlers.

Mr Darmody said yard dog competitors would be encouraged to try their hand at trialing.

The 2012 and 2013 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.

NSW Championship judge Phillip Swain, Willowtree, NSW, will take on the judging role at Henty.