Heading and hunting for 125 years

June Taylor, who is a member of the ladies committee, recalled the "old days" when the building's walls were not lined. A working bee had to be held before the trials to wash the dishes, stools and tables, as birds lived in the building.

The copper had to be kept boiling, whereas nowadays, if hot water was required, it was ready at the flick of a switch.

To mark the 125th anniversary, prize money has been substantially increased, with the winner of each open event receiving $500, compared with $80 last year. Dog trial sticks, greenstone shepherd's whistles and belt-buckles will also be on offer.

Each year, 22 trophies are competed for and Keppel Taylor has managed to contact 16 of the families who originally donated the silverware and they have agreed to give a one-off trophy for the anniversary.

A dinner and prizegiving to mark the milestone will be held in Kurow in May.

The trophies will all be on display at the trials, along with medals won by Ted Russell, which date back to 1911 and have been mounted and framed.

Keppel Taylor is only missing 10 programmes from 1940 until the present day - 1940, 1943, 1948, 1966, 1970, 1973, 1985, 1993, 1997 and 2000 - and would be keen to hear from anyone who has them.

This year's judges are past club members Andrew Boys - now living in Invercargill - Tony Wall (Tekapo) and Kevin Lamont (Loburn), along with New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association president Merv King, from Geraldine.

Simon Taylor, who described the Hakataramea courses as some of the hardest in the province, enjoyed attending trials. Those competing all had similar interests and were there to "have a bit of fun".