Triallist enjoys part in historic first

Jackie Sarginson (left) and Lyn Haynes were among an all-women judging crew at the Nelson Lakes...
Jackie Sarginson (left) and Lyn Haynes were among an all-women judging crew at the Nelson Lakes dog trials on Saturday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
"A good excuse for a road trip for the dogs."

That is how Garston farmer Jackie Sarginson described her judging duties at the Nelson Lakes dog trials at St Arnaud, in the Tasman region, on Saturday.

But it was not just any trial; it was believed to be a world-first of four female judges adjudicating the event.

Trish Clearwater, of Marlborough and previously of Southland, was judging the long head, Sheena Martin (Hawkes Bay) was judging the short head and yard, while Mrs Sarginson was judging the zig-zag hunt, and Lyn Haynes (Canterbury) the straight hunt.

National archives co-ordinator Ken White, of Rai Valley, said there had never been an all-women judging team before.

When Mrs Sarginson (55) first started trialling about 30 years ago, there were "just one or two" other female competitors "here and there".

Now, there were many women competing, particularly young ones, and that was great to see, she said.

Dog trialling was a great sport in the fact that competitors were all competing on an "absolute equal footing".

"A 17-year-old girl can compete against an 89-year-old man. There’s not many sports you can do that.

"It’s not really a thing, the ‘girl-boy’ thing. To me, it just all equal. It always has been from day one. I’ve never made an issue of who you are ... just get on with it," she said.

The all-female panel was something fun to be part of and she was looking forward to seeing a new part of the country.

Judging was something that she had always enjoyed and it was also good to give something back to the sport, she said.

Her foray into trialling began when she had quite a good heading dog — "unbeknown to me" she laughed — and someone suggested she have a crack at the local trials.

Despite not knowing what she was doing, she was placed third behind several very successful competitors.

"I thought, ‘This is easy’. That was the start of it. It turned out it wasn’t quite easy," she said.

Mrs Sarginson loved dog trialling, saying it was a sport that was addictive. She enjoyed the challenge as there were so many components — the triallist had to be on top of their game, the dog had to be trained and on-form, and then there were the sheep. It was also a social event and a great community-catch up with friends.

The mother of two was not so competitive while her sons were young but now her youngest was away to university, she was picking it up again. She has four broken-in for trials.

Mrs Sarginson was chasing three points to qualify a heading dog for the South Island and New Zealand dog trial championships being held near Gore in May. The pressure was on as she was running out of trials to get those points.

She picked up fellow judge Lyn Haynes on her way north and the pair were going to stop at the Kaikoura trials on their way home. She was also able to run at Nelson Lakes on the other courses.

Being so close to qualifying with a heading dog was not something she was expecting, as huntaways were her preference.

"I’m a wee bit dyslexic. I think I confuse the left and right with the heading dogs. My poor heading dogs don’t know what the hell I want," she laughed.

"I’m trying [to qualify]. I don’t really know what I’m doing ... [but] I’ll give it a crack."

Mrs Sarginson spent a lot of time training her dogs, at least three or four nights a week, saying you needed to "keep them right", and that was not just for trials.

"It’s really rewarding when you’re working every day with a well trained dog. It’s so satisfying. You’re not knocking stock around, you’ve got a dog you can control, it makes your day a lot easier."

Breeding your own pups meant you got to know the breed and how to train them, but you were always learning and picking up tips from attending trials.

Her greatest trialling thrill was when she scored 99 out of the possible 100 points in the zig-zag hunt at Wanaka not long after she started trialling. Her dog, Sailor, was only 4 and, back then, there were not many 99 scores.

"I couldn’t believe it. I rocked up there ... when they said I won, I thought they meant the raffle. There was a raffle for a Swanny [Swanndri coat] which I thought’d be good to have. It was a surprise," she said.

Dog trialling was in good heart as there were young ones coming through who were very keen and who had the training "down pat".


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