Wakatipu sheep dog triallists and judges (from left) Alister Ward, of Balclutha, Nick Fraser, of Mt Linton, Grant McMaster, owner of Closeburn Station and Robin McKenzie, of Clinton, take a breather. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Those from the land will know a farmer only gets a sheep
dog's best work out of it through the hard work put into its
Well, at least this is what Wakatipu Sheep Dog trial judge
Alister Ward says.
More than 100 farmers have gathered in the Wakatipu Basin
since yesterday for two hard-case and hard-working days in
the heat at the 85th annual sheep dog trials held at
Closeburn Station near Moke Lake.
The hard work is of course predominantly undertaken by the
dog itself, but make no mistake the pressure is still on the
''This is like having Steve Hansen watching over your
shoulder,'' said Closeburn farm owner and sheep dog triallist
Grant McMaster when it was his turn to take the stand in
front of the zig-zag course.
There are four categories for the dog and owner to gain six
points over the two-day event; the long pull, the short head,
drive and yard, the zig-zag hunt and the straight hunt.
If successful the partnership can qualify for the South
Island trials held in Blenheim in May, then the national
trials held in Taupo in June.
Mr Ward describes sheep dog trialling as a ''disease''.
''It [the dog] is one of the tools of the trade that you use
every day. If you've got a good dog it makes work easy and if
you get good at it, it is quite fun to compete.
''You only get out of a dog what you put into it.''
Competitors this weekend have come from as far as the North
Island, though there is at least 17 competing as locals from
within the boundaries or Arrowtown and Glenorchy.
Mr McMaster assured there are female entries among a field of
There are 13 trophies to be given out at today's end, with
the highest prize kitty of $75 going to the open section
Each contestant agrees the competition is not about the
money, it is about the fun, the social side and of course a
''man's'' best friend.