With trialling, does the dog pick you?
A dog taught NZ captain Guy Peacock the tricks of the trade, learns
As an 18-year-old Smedley farm cadet, Guy Peacock had the opportunity to have his own dog, and attend sheep dog trials. In fact, it was expected that all the cadets enter their dog into the local A&P show competitions.
That was when a good 4- to 5-yearold broken-in sheep dog would cost you $800 to $1000. It is much tougher for young shepherds nowadays, as a similar dog will set you back $5000 plus.
The first championship dog he had was a heading dog called Hutton, which he bought as a pup and trained while attending Smedley Station in the mid-90s. He was an absolute natural when it came to working sheep.
As Guy put it: “Hutton taught me everything I know.”
It was this dog’s ability and determination that really set Guy onto the path of success he has had as a sheep dog triallist.
With the seed sown, Guy wanted to learn more and getting a job on Tuatane Station alongside manager Bob Bryson, a top sheepdog triallist, was a great opportunity to gain more knowledge about the fine art of sheep dog trialling.
Since Hutton’s passing, there has been Pound, Frank, Falcon, Tom, Chief and Slim, all showing their talent at championship level, and several other open class dogs, but Hutton, who Falcon and Slim are both descendants of, was the one who started it all for him.
Guy has represented New Zealand three times, competing against Australia — the first time in 2018 as part of the four-man team in Sydney — 2019 in Nelson, and again as captain of the New Zealand team in 2022, in Tasmania.
Sacrifices and dedication, as well as a good dog, is what it takes to make a winning partnership. “It is the quality of time spent with a dog that makes all the difference,” says Guy.
The evenings are when Guy manages to find that quality time with his dogs. During the day, Guy is a fertiliser consultant for Waipukuraubased PFP fertiliser, and after a day dealing with fertiliser he has 72
hectares at Te Uri, Dannevirke, that needs attending to.
Shepherding is a natural progression into sheep dog trialling — if you are keen, you need to find the right dog. Often it is the dog that seems to find you in a strange sort of way and each dog needs to be trained on its own merits. You will soon know whether you have found the right dog.
There are plenty of seasoned triallists out there and if you show you are keen to learn, they will find the time to offer encouragement and advice. Plus check out the local sheep dog trial clubs in your area as they are always keen for new members.
Guy often runs training days or