Dog tri­allers share pas­sion for sport

Clutha Leader - - HEALTH AND WELLNESS - MARY-JO TOHILL

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.

MARY-JO TOHILL

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.

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