The South Australian Yard Dog Association’s Utility Championships are on in Melrose this weekend.
The annual trial is a way for competitors to show off the workmanship of their best friend, testing their handling through a range of yard-work and outside obstacles.
“Competitors start with 100 points and the judge gives a talk, stipulating how he wants them to run. When a dog or competitor doesn’t do what he wants they lose points.” Bev Kellock, SAYDA’s Secretary, explains.
A Utility trial consists of a cast – which is a sending the dog at a distance to gather and bring 5 sheep to the handler.
The dog and competitor will then proceed to the yard section consisting of penning and drafting of the sheep. The original 5 sheep will then be taken through 3 obstacles.
This trial is different from the usual Yard Dog Trials as it combines paddock and yard work.
“You have 15 mins to compete and if you don’t do all the obstacles you get deducted points.”
Is losing points an easy thing? “Oh, yes.” She laughs, “I’ve seen people lose all their points.”
“[It’s tricky] for the poor person who needs to do everything.”
“Each trial varies to an extent, but we have training schools.”
There are two classes of dog for this Utility Championship – novice and open.
A dog is classified in the novice section if they are “younger and not quite experienced.”
“Once they win, they go up to the open. Even if they haven’t won a novice they tend to go into the open.”
The Novice Section will compete Friday and Saturday morning, and the Open Section will be held Saturday afternoon and Sunday – hoping to finish around 3.00pm.
The 3 days will be fully catered for by a local committee.
“I think [the show has] been going for four years. We wouldn’t go unless we had their support. Our association appreciates what they do for us – they set everything up.”
Bev predicts it’ll be a good day for competing, “I think the weather will be better for it this year.”
As for breeds, Bev is hoping a few Kelpies can claim a prize.
“We’ll see if the kelpies can do as well as border collies. They seem to knock us off.”
Her thoughts on the secret to a good working dog?
“Oh, heavens. One that does as he’s told I suppose. One that obeys his master is as good as you can get.”
“And a certain amount of instinct. When they’re well-bred they have it.”
If you’re wanting to attend the event it will be held at the Melrose Showgrounds, and hosted by the Melrose Show Society. It’ll be on this coming Friday until Sunday, and admission is free. For more information see the SAYDA events page here.
Written by Erin Connellan
Photo: Connor Danylenko, Pexels