Sheep dog tri­alling a sport like rugby

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By KA­T­RINA LINTONBON

If there is one thing you never as­sume when you are talk­ing to Alas­tair Sher­rard and Al­lan Smith, it is that sheep dog tri­alling is all about farm­ing and is not a sport.

‘‘It makes me quite an­gry when peo­ple say sheep dog tri­alling isn’t a sport. You have to be­come a team with your dog,’’ Mr Smith said.

‘‘ We prac­tise and train just as hard as any other sportsper­son. The only dif­fer­ence be­tween rugby and dog tri­alling is they use a ball and we use sheep.’’

Mr Smith has a pas­sion for sheep dog tri­alling that spans decades.

He has been a mem­ber of the Pu­taruru-Ti­rauMata­mata Sheep Dog Trial Club for many years and was re­spon­si­ble for get­ting Mr Sher­rard, who is now the club’s pres­i­dent, in­volved.

‘‘You could say I got roped into it,’’ Mr Sher­rard laughed.

‘‘But I have de­vel­oped a love for sheep dog tri­alling. It’s like you are in part­ner­ship with your dog. Ev­ery­one’s per­cep­tion of what a good dog is dif­fers.’’

The pop­u­lar­ity of sheep dog tri­alling has dwin­dled in re­cent years.

Mr Smith said it was the change in farm­ing prac­tices that had seen a de­cline in sheep farm­ing and sheep dog tri­alling.

‘‘That’s what makes dog tri­alling an older man’s sport. Farm­ers are more into cows and dairy farm­ing now.’’

The Pu­taruru-Ti­rauMata­mata Sheep Dog Trial Club’s 72nd An­nual Trial will once again re­turn to the Kakahu Hills Farm at Oko­roire from this Fri­day and Satur­day. About 50-60 tri­al­lists and 160 dogs will de­scend on Kakahu Hills to com­pete.

Each day com­pe­ti­tions will start at 8am and en­tries in each cat­e­gory close at 10am each day. There is an en­try fee of $6 for each dog in open, in­ter­me­di­ate and maiden cat­e­gories. Sheep dog tri­al­lists from all over the North Is­land will at­tend.

‘‘We want to make sure our guests are al­ways looked af­ter, there is a lot of ca­ma­raderie.’’

Team: Pu­taru­ruTi­rau-Mata­mata Sheep Dog Trial Club pres­i­dent Alas­tair Sher­rard and Star.

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