Like in many traditionally male-dominated sports, women are increasingly taking centre court in the competitive world of sheep dog trialing. The National Sheep Dog Trials are under way this weekend in Hall, just west of Canberra, and this year 41% of entrants are female.
Across Australia every day, female farmers are breeding, training and working their own sheep dogs – be they Border Collies, Kelpies, Coolies or bitzas.
National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said it was great these on-farm skills were now on show for all Australians to enjoy.
“Sheep Dog Trialling truly is an even playing field for both genders with competitors not advantaged by size or strength.
“It all comes down to the handlers training ability, their eye for a good ‘type’ of dog, a relationship of trust with their canine companion and in the end – a fair bit of luck!”
The Championships will see 300 dogs (with direction from their handlers) coerce or guide a group of sheep through a series of ‘farm-like’ obstacles with teams scored on their speed and error rate.
Breeds of dogs, like Kelpies and Border Collies, are instinctly driven to ‘work’ sheep (or chooks or anything else that gets in their way).
President of the National Sheep Dogs Trials Association Charlie Cover said the dogs would rather work sheep than eat!
However, it takes a whole lot of work to get a dog to competition standard.
Dogs and handlers spend many hundreds of hours training and generally going about the real business of sheep work to prepare.
This year marks 75 years of sheepdog trialling in the ACT.
Our nation’s capital might not seem like a sheep dog trialling heartland but it has a legacy in the bush capital.
The sport and spectacle first graced the capital region at the end of World War II as a way of raising money for returned soldiers.
Manuka Oval, in Canberra’s inner south was the venue. Of course, back then all of the competitors were male!
The public are encouraged to go along and take in the prowess of man or woman and dog this weekend at Hall Showground.
- Days start at 8am with the first dogs and goes until about 4.30pm.
- On Sunday the Champion of Champions and the Open Final are run.
- Entry is $5 per adult and $15 per car.
- Pet dogs are welcome on a lead
- Canteen and coffee cart is available on weekend
To find our more visit www.asdwa.org.au