August 28, 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 NSW Yard Dog Championships.
Bill Luff, of Gundagai, and Kevin Howell, of Eugowra, 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 as far as Western Australia and Queensland on their way to the Tasmanian Supreme Championships.
The 2012, 2013 and 2014 sheep dog trial winner, Laurie Slater, of Murrumbateman, will return to defend his title, along with state representatives Mick and Pip Hudson.
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 Bill Paton, Koroit, will take on the judging role at Henty.