Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gone to the dogs

Keeping a Close Eye
This year the Wairarapa hosted the New Zealand National Sheepdog Championships.  Last Saturday saw the conclusion of this annual event in Bideford near Masterton.  The local paper ran a good story on the event complete with photos.

The championships involved close to 400 triallists and 500 dogs from around the country.  I’ve never competed in this event.  Partly because I don’t have a sheepdog.  The standard is pretty high.

It’s quite impressive to watch.  Individual competitors move a small flock of sheep around a paddock in some kind of complicated pattern and into a small enclosed yard.  Their sheepdogs chase the sheep around.  The competitors tell the dogs where to chase the sheep using a complex series of whistles.

These guys make it look easy.  They seem to take it in stride when sheep become sticky (reluctant to move) or loose (run too far ahead).  We have to remember that these guys are professional competitors.  Back home on the farm the reality is very different.  I know it can be very frustrating.  I remember as a kid moving sheep around on my uncle’s central North Island sheep and cattle station.  That’s where I first learned to swear and shout.

Photo courtesy of author Prescott under Creative Commons licence.

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