Posted by: 347bennetrd | May 21, 2010

Millers Flat Collie Club Dog Trials

Today was day 2 of the Millers Flat Dog Trials, so I set off after lunch to go and check them out.  This is the first time I have ever been to any dog trials and I was very curious…  The trials take place yearly on a local farmer’s property.  Four courses are set up (2 for the heading dog and 2 for huntaways) and I had to follow the farm track in my car to take me up.  Farm trucks were parked around, dogs on the back and small groups of weather-beaten men standing around, most often with a Speights in hand.

A little corrugated-iron hut was fitted out with a bar with plenty of Jack Daniels and whisky for the after event.  “Um excuse me, but where are the catering ladies?”  (I was looking for Mum.)  Turns out the lunches and morning tea are put on in the woolshed so I drove back down and caught up with Mum and the rest of the Rural Women team.  They were very happy having sold 55 lunches 🙂

The morning had been nice, but by the time I arrived a cold wind had sprung up, brrrrr.  The first course I watched was the Short Head and Yard (not that I knew this while I was watching).  An old coot (there were lots of these about) stood at the bottom of the hill, sent his dog up to collect 3 sheep, bring them down the hill and then… sorry I have no idea what they were meant to do next.  This was obviously more complicated than I thought.

So I drove on up to the next course – this was the Zigzag Hunt.   There were lots more trucks and men about here;

and one old fellow limped over and asked me where my dog was?  Thinking of the disaster Bronc would be should he ever set paw at a dog trial, I mumbled something non-commital…  Well I was quite lucky to be able to chat with this guy – he was clearly a long-time dog man and explained to me how the courses worked (ah-ha!!) and even pointed out people and dogs, telling me which dogs were good and which were ‘in-between’.  Here’s one guy and his good dog, waiting at the bottom of the hill for the sheep to be released;

With the Zigzag Hunt, the huntaway has to “use his bark to hunt 3 sheep up a hill for about 200 to 300 metres. The course is set between 3 pairs of markers which are 20 metres apart. These pairs of markers are offset to test the dog’s ability to slew sheep; that is to force a change of direction.”  (This is taken directly from the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association website here).  Here is a video of the above guy and his dog;

And finally, once the old fellow had explained how the first course worked, I went back to it – this was like watching The Dog Show on tv – remember?!  Here’s what they had to do – “The competitor starts his dog from a marked quad and heads 3 sheep between 150 and 300 metres away and pulls them to the quad.  The dog and competitor then move them along a 20m wide driveway marked by a series of pegs, through a pair of hurdles and then along a second driveway.  At this point the competitor goes to the pen, opens the gate and stays there while commanding his dog to yard the sheep.”

Here is a video I took of the last part – penning up the sheep.  The guy and dog had a couple of valiant goes before he threw up his arms and it was all over…

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Responses

  1. I can see that even if you didn’t need one for mobility, having a walking stick for the heading dog tasks would be useful! I so remember the days of cheese on toast dinner in front of Spot On and The Dog Show :o) And that tune comes back to me like it was last week!


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