Sheep dogs on show from tomorrow morning

By James Bennett

Finley Show Society members are gearing up for their second event of the year with the annual Sheep Dog Trials starting tomorrow at the showgrounds.

More than 200 dogs will compete, accompanied by about 45 ‘triallers’, with some expected to travel from as far as Cobar, Sydney, Canberra, Dubbo, Port Fairy and Tasmania.

Finley has one representative — Show Society member David Webb.

Mr Webb said while he doesn’t rate his skills all that highly he enjoys the process of training a dog.

‘‘The challenge of training and working the dogs is where I get the fulfilment.

‘‘You have sheep that want to do their own thing and the dog is driven by instinct.

‘‘We select dogs with a certain type of instinct and then we have to train that instinct.

‘‘Dogs don’t always do what you want and you can get bit cranky with them, so the trick to training is patience, kindness and companionship.’’

Mr Webb will be entering two border collies, Maggie and Jasmine.

He’s been ‘trialling’ dogs since 2007 and although he’s never won any major awards he’s pocketed a few minor ones.

‘‘The best I’ve won is a set of steak knives,’’ he joked.

‘‘I was lucky enough to win two improver awards at Seymour.

‘‘But I don’t do it for the competition, it’s for the challenge and satisfaction.

‘‘The biggest satisfaction you get from sheep dog trials is when you and the dog perform well.

‘‘Even though you might not get a score you can still have that satisfaction. The dogs I’ve owned are always my best mates.

‘‘There’s also great camaraderie between the triallers. We usually compete at the same events so you get to appreciate more about the other triallers and their dogs,’’ Mr Webb said.

Triallers have 15 minutes to complete the course which includes casting (bringing the sheep to the trialler), followed by negotiating an eight metre course with four obstacles. The course finishes with the dog penning the sheep.

All triallers start with 100 points and lose points for any mistakes. The trialler with the highest number of points is declared the winner.

Tomorrow morning, the open competition and improver competition both start from 8am, and continue through to Monday when both finals are held.

The novice competition starts Friday at 9.30am with the finals held on Sunday afternoon.

Lunch, morning and afternoon tea will be available on all days for a small cost.

Spectators are welcome on all days of competition and enter the showgrounds for free.