Landscape like the moon

Leo Edginton reckons he landed on the moon this week.

Mr Edginton (39), one of the country’s top dog triallists, is competing at the South Island sheep dog trial championships which being are held amid the vast, rocky landscape of Earnscleugh Station, near Alexandra.

It was a far cry from his home at Mangaheia Station, a large sheep and beef property at Tolaga Bay, on the North Island’s East Coast.

With six dogs qualified for the championships — Larry, Kim, Bully, Robert, Deano and Bert, a mix of both heading dogs and huntaways — it was the most of any competitor. And he has seven qualified for the New Zealand championships in three weeks’ time.

Managing so many runs was a "bit of a juggle" and he did not get a lot of time to watch other competitors’ runs.

But he was loving being in the South, accompanied by two of his shepherds, who also qualified, describing it as a bit of a holiday and a week of fun.

Mr Edginton, who grew up in the Manawatu, began trialling about 20 years ago when he was working as a shepherd and ever since had been "keen as".

He won his first island title with Bully in the straight hunt at Omarama in 2006 and has won various other island titles since then. He won a New Zealand title with Bounce in the zigzag hunt in 2013.

He has also been in the New Zealand test team several times which was probably the highlight of his dog trialling career, he said.

Mangaheia Station was farmed traditionally with horses and dogs, something which attracted young shepherds, and there was "pretty good dog work" on the property.

Couple that with having well bred dogs, and putting plenty of time into them, had contributed to his success, along with the successes of his staff.

Past and present shepherds had enjoyed success on the dog trial course, something that he particularly relished.

Leo Edginton with his six dogs that he qualified for this week’s South Island sheep dog trial...
Leo Edginton with his six dogs that he qualified for this week’s South Island sheep dog trial championships. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
It was, though, a "bit of a nuisance" when nobody was at home to do any work when the New Zealand champs were on.

Mr Edginton was undaunted by the merino sheep on the Earnscleugh courses; he spent several years mustering in the South Island and enjoyed working with the breed.

The championships set up was "awesome" and he was delighted to come to a venue that was so different.

His six dogs were all at a good age; they had matured enough and were "ready to go". Nerves no longer bothered him.

He acknowledged the sport was a great leveller with plenty of highs and lows so you could never get too confident. "You go from hero to zero pretty quickly."

He was delighted to see plenty of young people coming through the ranks which was making the competition even harder. It meant the sport was in a very healthy state.

With about another six dogs at home, including pups, Mr Edginton said he usually named them after the owner of the bitch he got the pup from, or their wife.

"It’s pretty simple then," he said.


Leaderboard at the 4pm call on the second day of the South Island sheep dog trial championships at Earnscleugh Station (in no particular order).—

Long head (judged up to run 111): Kevin O’Connor and Jax (Waikoau), Alistair Dickson and Bruce (Cheviot), Steve Murphy and Edge (Whangamomona), Ed Aubrey and Bell (Omarama), Stuart Millar and Laddie (Glenroy), Bernard Arends and Tarn (Weber), John Linton and Cam (Martinborough).

Short head and yard (judged up to run 88): Mark Copland and Deb (Methven), Rick Aubrey and Trump (Omarama), Warren MacLeod and Neave (Palmerston), Brent Mathews and Reef (Makotuku), Scott McRae and Cory (Molesworth), Selwyn Dorwood and Queen (Okawa), Howard Inglis and Lou (Wairarama).

Zigzag hunt (judged up to run 145): Jo McIntyre and Sam (Matawai), Hamish Parkinson and Force (Kaitieke), Steve Kerr and Holly (Mackenzie), Cam Bain and Brax (Millers Flat), Clark Chrystal and Duke (Waikaou), Ned George and Pitch (Wairoa), Duncan Gardner and Boogie (Tai Tapu).

Straight hunt (judged up to run 136): Cam Bain and Hercules (Millers Flat), Grant Calder and Apps (St Bathans), Robbie Calder and Angus (St Bathans), Morris Prebble and Fake (Otairi), Samuel Magee and Edge (Makotuku), Ian Clark and Ash (Cambridge), Aaron Bell and Bec (Waitaki).

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