Region gets in behind sheep dog trials

Mackenzie Collie Dog Club president Mark Sheehan and his dog team take a break. Photo by Ruth Grundy
Mackenzie Collie Dog Club president Mark Sheehan and his dog team take a break. Photo by Ruth Grundy

Two hot, dusty Mackenzie Country big sky days and some single-minded merinos put dogs and their owners to the test, at the recent Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association Centre Championships.

The CRT Farmlands Canterbury Centre Championships were held in conjunction with the Mackenzie Collie Dog Club trials at Balmoral Station, near Tekapo.

Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association president Fraser McKenzie, of Ashburton, said there had been good entries from ''right around the region'' with about 130 dogs taking part in each event.

There were 18 sheep dog trial clubs in Canterbury and the Canterbury Centre trials were last hosted by the Mackenzie Club about 24 years ago, he said.

Some North Otago dogs had also entered to build up qualifying points ahead of the Tux South Island and New Zealand Championships - this year hosted by the Canterbury centre at Waihi Gorge, near Geraldine.

The trials had been ''well-supported'' by local businesses,The Mackenzie Club had many willing volunteers from nearby stations, who had worked to make the event a success.

They had not only helped with administration, the catering and working the sheep but some had also taken time out to compete, Mr McKenzie said.

The sheep were provided by the Simpson family.

Mackenzie Club treasurer Cate Ross, of Rollesby Valley, said she decided to campaign a dog for the first time, the only local woman to do so at this event.

She and heading dog Jess took time out from administrative duties to compete in the heading dog events.

Mrs Ross said she runs her own dogs on the farm through the year and thought she would go out and ''compete with the guys'' in what tended to be a male-dominated sport.

Judges were Event I, Matt Simpson; Event II, Kelvin Sadler; Event III, Steve Blanchard, Event IV, Sam Manson.

The Tux South Island and New Zealand Championship trials will be at Waihi Station, Woodbury Rd, Geraldine, from May 26.

- by Ruth Grundy