Competition has begun at the Supreme Australian and New Zealand Sheep Dog Championships and so far Mick Hudson and Perangery Marge and Laurie Slater and Wondara Jules, winner of the Henty Field Days trials, are holding their own.
Each trialler is allowed four dogs and over the course of the coming days, the best dogs (and scores) go through to the top 20. Currently Laurie Slater and his dog Me Mate Storm Boy, are leading the competition with fellow competitor Paul Prentice and Station Bred Bib, on an equal score of 92.5.
Later this week, Mick Hudson and Perangery Marge will represent Australia and go head-to-head with New Zealand in the Trans Tasman Test Series also known as the Wayleggo Cup.
Henty Field Days served as great preparation for the Australian and New Zealand test series, which is held every year. Each country takes it in turn to host and organise a test series.
“We’ve got the Supreme coming up and Henty and Narrandera are lead-up trials to the Supreme. So we like to take our dogs and give them a run at those places and see if they are doing something wrong or right so we can hopefully have them tuned up well enough to work at that major one – ‘cause that is the one to win.” says Mick Hudson.
Longtime trialler Tony Whitehead is also competing at the Australian sheep dog trials in the novice section with Marong Horace – a “take-off dog” who puts the sheep away after each run at field days like Henty. He reflects on the special culture of the sheep dog trials.
“I’m nearly 83 and the dog trialling community is among, well probably are the best group of people collectively that I’ve ever known. They’ve all got common interests of course – but really the best group of people you could hope to find. When there’s a competitor out on the ground, if a sheep beats the dog, there’s a collective sigh of disappointment you might say … ‘Wouldn’t that rot you!’ ‘Cause everyone’s barracking for the worker and his or her dog.”
He also talks of how the sport is changing.
“There’s a lot of women coming into the sport and some of them are very successful.”
The Supreme Australian Sheep Dog Championships continue all this week at Hawkesbury Showground in Sydney until Sunday. Entry is free.
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