Lindsay Carruthers may have completed the odd dog trialling
course in his time but the Middlemarch farmer acknowledges he
never relied on prize money to ''keep him in refreshments''.
Instead, Mr Carruthers' preferred spot at the annual Strath
Taieri Collie Club's trials was on the hill on a heading
course, liberating sheep with fellow club life-member Johnny
And when it came to characters involved in the sport of dog
trials, it would be hard to get a pair more colourful, or
larger-than-life, than that particular duo.
The club is celebrating its centennial this week, with three
days of competition, which began yesterday, at Neil Grant's
property Glencreag and Brent McKenzie's property Kinvara.
Mr Carruthers (56) and Mr James (59) have given a combined
contribution to the club that spans more than eight decades.
Both became involved when they were teenagers.
In those early years, Mr Carruthers remembered being ''just
the boy'' liberating sheep on the hunt courses.
''You were the tame dog as it were; `do this, do that','' he
He had received a promotion in latter years although he could
not quite remember what the title was.
''I'm stock what?'' he asked Mr James.
''Co-ordinator,'' came the reply.
''No. I've been the sheep convener, that's what I am,'' he
That involved making sure the sheep were available for both
heading courses for the liberators to pick up in the morning.
Generally, he tried to be first on the course every day but
that did not always work out, he said ruefully.
''Sometimes I have been second, as opposed to first.''
For Mr James, now a fisherman on a charter boat at Moeraki,
the trip back to his home territory of the Strath Taieri was
a welcome diversion.
''It gets you away from the missus. She's quite excited I'm
away for three days. Everyone's happy,'' he confided.
He left his dogs at home, describing them as ''too rough'',
but he did once win a maiden event with Ben at Middlemarch,
although it was quite a few years ago.
Ben was probably not quite so notorious as a big dog he once
owned called Bill, who was trained to dig out nodding
There was no floor on the booth at the dog trials in those
days, and Bill could dig it up on command.
Mr James had been involved with a few other pranks, including
tying a can of beer on to a sheep he released and sending it
down for prominent Danseys Pass triallist, the inimitable
Neville Hore, ''to wind his clock''.
Even on a cold day up the hill, it was hot work and hydration
was necessary, Mr James said.
''We're quite happy to come up here in the morning. We don't
get growled at by people down the way,'' Mr Carruthers said.
Down in the historic cookshop, built in the late 1860s,
Michelle Holland and her team of helpers were churning out
meals and morning and afternoon teas for hungry triallists.
Cold meat, salads and potatoes were on the menu for lunch.
She was full of praise for her fellow helpers, saying it
would not be possible without them. She usually budgeted for
feeding 40-50 a day, but with the increased entries due to
the centennial, she was looking at between about 60 and 70