Heading title - Aced it

Palmerston farmer Lloyd Smith and heading dog Ace (3) won a title at the Tux New Zealand sheep...
Palmerston farmer Lloyd Smith and heading dog Ace (3) won a title at the Tux New Zealand sheep dog trial championships near Gore. Photo by Rachel Taylor.
Winning the New Zealand short head and yard title last week in Gore with dog Ace has fulfilled a private ambition for Palmerston farmer and contract stockman Lloyd Smith.

Mr Smith (57) wrote the book on training sheep dogs (Pup Pen to Paddock) and has won four previous New Zealand dog trial titles - all with huntaways - making the win with 3-year-old heading dog Ace extra special.

"Winning a New Zealand title is the ultimate; it's very rewarding and very satisfying," he said.

"A quiet ambition was to win one with a heading dog and make the New Zealand team to travel to Australia."

In October, Mr Smith and Ace will travel to Port Fairy on the south coast of Victoria as part of a four-person New Zealand sheep dog trial team.

The team members were chosen not just on a title win, but also on the merits of the dogs, Mr Smith said.

The dogs had to be suitable for Australian conditions and working with merino sheep.

Most sheep in New Zealand are Romneys or Romney-cross, which can survive on damp ground without developing footrot, but Australian farmers tend to run merinos, which have a stubborn personality that could be a challenge for some dogs, he said.

While it would be up to Ace to get the best out of the sheep, it helped in competitions if the sheep had been well worked and responded well to the dog, he said.

And training a dog was about getting them to respond to you.

In the New Zealand trials, Neil Evans and Rose, (Amberley), won the long head; Stuart McNeill and Bruce, (Napier), zigzag hunt; Jim Chaffey and Maid, (Porangahau), straight hunt.

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