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

Laurie Slater, of Murrumbateman, and his dog Wondara Jules after winning the 2018 Henty Three Sheep Trial.

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.

An added attraction this year will be demonstrations during the lunch hour by the 2018 Supreme Australian Champion handler Mick Hudson, of Eumungerie, on how to start and train young dogs to work sheep.

He will be using young and semi-trained dogs to work through exercises dog owners can use at home.

Murray Valley Yard Dog Championships co-ordinator Peter Darmody, of West Wyalong, 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 and Thursday.

The finals are due to get underway from 1pm on Thursday.

Dogs will be fresh from last month’s Darling River Championships at Wentworth.

Bill Luff, of Gundagai, Kevin Howell, of Eugowra, Fred Rains, Coolac, Neil Taylor, Holbrook, Chris Sellars, Brungle, Jay Weston, Dalgety and 2019 NSW State champion Mick Hedger 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.

Robert Cox, Manildra, and his dog Karrobar Captain took out last year’s event on 187 points under the eye of judge Chris Sellars, Brungle.

Dean Incher, Adaminaby, and Peter Darmody, West Wyalong, were equal second on 185 points.

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

Run by the NSW Sheepdog Workers Incorporated, 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 of $4000.

Mr Darmody said the event would attract entries from NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia, on their way to the Australian Supreme Championships at Dalby, Qld, the following week.

He said some events in NSW had been cancelled this year due to drought and lack of available stock.

The 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 sheep dog trial winner, Laurie Slater, of Murrumbateman, and his Border Collie, Wondara Jules, outclassed a strong line-up of entries to win the 2018 Henty Three Sheep Trial Championships.

“Anyone whose anyone in trialling will be at Henty – it is a great event as people love competing and having the opportunity to look around the field days as well,’’ Mr Darmody said.

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 judge Norm McKenzie, Moulamein, will take on the judging role at Henty.