Tri­als

Work­ing dogs face off

Great Southern Herald - - Front Page - Cally Dupe

West Wa­gin farmer Ken Ather­ton’s prop­erty will play host to one of Aus­tralia’s premier work­ing dog com­pe­ti­tions this month.

The Na­tional Kelpie Field Trial Cham­pi­onships is one of two ma­jor na­tional sheep­dog com­pe­ti­tions set to be held in WA this year.

The April 26-29 event is open only to kelpies reg­is­tered with the Work­ing Kelpie Coun­cil and is ex­pected to at­tract hun­dreds of Aus­tralia’s top work­ing kelpies to the five-day com­pe­ti­tion.

Launched in 1969, the com­pe­ti­tion aims to em­pha­sise and pre­serve the nat­u­ral abil­ity of the kelpie to work stock. “It ro­tates through­out the States and was last here in 2012, so it’s WA’s turn this time,” Mr Ather­ton said.

Other breeds and un­reg­is­tered kelpies will take to the stage at the Ather­tons’ farm the day be­fore, April 25, as part of the field trial cham­pi­onships.

A sec­ond na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, the Na­tional Yard Dog Cham­pi­onship, will be held at Din­ninup Show Grounds on May 2-6.

De­signed to at­tract com­peti­tors al­ready in WA for the field trial, the event is open to all breeds but has only ever been won by kelpies.

It aims to show­case the best yard dogs in Aus­tralia and was first launched in Tas­ma­nia.

With a pas­sion for work­ing dogs, Mr Ather­ton plans to en­ter his kelpie Punch in both com­pe­ti­tions.

He said the April 25 event is for any type of dog, and the April 26-29 event is for kelpies only.

“The kelpie trial is a util­ity trial where you have 30 points for the yard sec­tion and 70 points for out in the field,” he said.

“The field usu­ally com­prises of a cast, putting the sheep into the yard, and then when you have done your yard work you come out of the yard and you do three ob­sta­cles.

“You have 16 min­utes to do all of that. It is a lot more farm fo­cused.”

He said the yard trial, at Din­ningup, did not in­clude field work and was open to non-reg­is­tered dogs as well.

Pic­ture: Cally Dupe

Ken Ather­ton, of Wil­liams, with his proud kelpie Punch.

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