National title tops the lot

South Canterbury triallist Mark Mallinson, of Hilton-Gapes Valley Collie Dog Club, gives his dogs a break from competition. Mr Mallinson and Freedo (centre) were sixth in Event IV Straight Huntaway in the Islands and the national event. Photo by Ruth Grundy.
South Canterbury triallist Mark Mallinson, of Hilton-Gapes Valley Collie Dog Club, gives his dogs a break from competition. Mr Mallinson and Freedo (centre) were sixth in Event IV Straight Huntaway in the Islands and the national event. Photo by Ruth Grundy.
A win in the New Zealand dog trialling championships counts as one of the best moments in Peter Kidd's life.

Mr Kidd and Chief, of the Tai Tapu Collie Dog Club, won the short head and yard event in the New Zealand championship trials and were placed second in the short head and yard in the South Island competition.

They were one of two Canterbury dog trialling teams to make it into the top seven at the trials at Waihi Station, near Geraldine, last month.

Mark Mallinson and Freedo, of the Hilton-Gapes Valley Collie Dog Club were sixth in the straight hunt events in the New Zealand and South Island competitions.

Mr Kidd said he had always hoped he to win a New Zealand championship trial.

''But you have to do everything right ... and [have] a bit of luck [too]. That day ... it [the win] was out in front of everything I've done in my life, pretty much.''

But it had proved a long day of waiting and trying to keep calm, he said.

He and Chief had to have a ''useful run to make it'' and, as he closed the gate on the sheep, felt sure it had been, but had to wait until most of the campaigning was done to hear the final result.

Mr Kidd, who is 67, started trialling dogs in his late teens but put his interest on hold for farm work and family commitments, returning to the sport in 2000 when he had more time.

It had paid off because he felt he had come back to it ''stronger than ever''.

He said he owed a lot to St Bathans dog triallist Grant Calder.

In 2013, in Blenheim, Mr Kidd and Chief were third in the South Island short head and yard event and he was sixth in the zigzag hunt event with Quake.

In earlier years, he gained placings in huntaway events.

He used huntaways and heading dogs but was beginning to favour heading dogs, which were more suited to the property.

Mr Kidd and his wife Maree run sheep and beef on hill country in the Kaituna-Ataahua area.

Mr Mallinson, who is shepherd at Waihi Station, had been heavily involved in organising the trials.

It had been a great occasion, he said.

Most triallists would ''go home and think about their strategy for the next season''.

The sport was increasing in popularity and evolving. He could remember a time when there were 180 entries in each event; this year, entries had topped 280.

Some of the older, more experienced, triallists were being edged out by new people coming through. He put this down to better access to information about training dogs, in books and DVDs.

Also, experienced triallists were happy to share their knowledge, he said. Breeding had improved, as those who sought a good working dog became more particular about their selection.

''The passion is [still] there with the shepherd,'' he said.

Mr Mallinson has two New Zealand titles.

He and Ouf were first in the zigzag hunt event in the New Zealand championships in 1994 in Hanmer, and in the same event in Blenheim in 1998.