Dog triallers share passion for sport
The South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships were dominated by North Islanders.
However, while she may have moved north in the last two years, the south can still lay claim to Waitahuna born and bred Steph Tweed, who gained a creditable sixth in the short head and yard event, with her exceptional heading dog, Flirt, at the Clinton event.
She was one of the few southerners to feature in the final results. Two of the others, Eric Stringer and Grace of Kyeburn, and Graeme Dickie and Bess, of Taupeka West were ahead of her in second and third place respectively, in this event.
It was won by Merv Utting and Fern, of Gisborne, who was also fourth in the long head event with his other dog, Prince, with Fern in sixth place. This event was taken out by David Sheild and Clyde, of Dannevirke.
Opposites they may be in gender, age and experience, but Merv, in his 70s, and Steph Tweed in her 20s, share a common love of their sport.
The Gisborne dog trial veteran is the holder of six New Zealand and 10 island championships, and farms in the Waimata Valley with wife Connie.
In contrast, the south Otagobred woman, who has been working as head shepherd at Papanui Station near Hunterville for two years, is just starting out.
Steph reflects on a great season, with Flirt, and especially with her huntaway Grit, who was the top point scorer of the pair’s Wanganui centre this season, but didn’t quite fire at the South Island championships.
‘‘He worked well, but it didn’t quite come together.’’
Not daunted, there’s always next season for the vivacious Steph, daughter of Waitahuna farmer and championship dog trialler, Roger Tweed.
‘‘I was mad keen from an early age, and always annoying dad,’’ she laughed.
Dog trials, whether competing against your dad or legends like Merv, are a great leveler, she says. ’’It’s cool being a female competing against fellas. You’re all on the same level.’’
Tweed said she was getting great experience working in the North Island, but would love to return home some day. ’’The South Island is definitely home.’’
In other results, the best of the other southerners included Jock Meehan of Wanaka, Paul Collins of Waimate, and John Caley of Waihemo.
Steph Tweed, formerly of Waitahuna in south Otago, was sixth in the short head and yard event at South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships held near Clinton this week. Pictured with Flirt.