About - NZ Sheep Dog Trials
There are 89 sheep dog trial clubs in the North Island and 68 in the South Island. These are grouped for administration into 13 Centres. Each Centre has 2 representatives on the New Zealand Council, which administers the affairs of the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association.
A more recent development has been the running of show and yard trials throughout the year. The show trials ususally feature heading dogs (border collies) and the yard trials (huntaways). The courses for these trials are usually on flat ground, in a confined area, eg the arena at an A & P Show. Tux Yarding Challenge and Tux Handy Dog events.
The club trial season usually begins in February each year and ends in May. Entry is open to all competitors and their dogs. There are usually 4 events at each trial: the Long Head, the Short Head and Yard, the Zig-Zag Huntaway and the Straight Huntaway events. Heading dogs (silent working dogs, evolved in NZ from border collies) compete in the heading events; and huntaways (evolved in NZ from border collies and various barking sheep dog breeds) compete in the huntaway events.
LONG HEAD The competitor starts his dog from a marked ring and the dog heads 3 sheep on a hill 300 to 600 metres away. The dog then pulls them into the ring in as straight a line as possible and holds them stationary to the judge's satisfaction, all within a time limit of between 10 and 15 minutes.
SHORT HEAD AND YARD The competitor starts his dog from a marked quad and heads 3 sheep between 150 and 300 metres away and pulls them to the quad. Instead of holding them stationary as in the Long Head, the competitor and the dog together move them along a 20 metre wide drive way, which is marked by a series of pegs; through a pair of hurdles and then along between a second drive way. At this point the competitor goes to the yard, opens the gate and stays there while commanding his dog to yard the sheep. The run is completed when the gate is shut on the sheep, all to the judge's satisfaction and within a time limit of 10 to 15 minutes.
ZIG-ZAG HUNT The competitor starts his dog from a marked quad. Three sheep are liberated in front of them and the dog then uses his bark to hunt 3 sheep up a hill for about 200 to 300 metres. The course is set between 3 pairs of markers which are 20 metres apart. These pairs of markers are offset to test the dog's ability to slew sheep; that is to force a change of direction. The run is completed when the sheep pass between the top set of markers, to the judge's satisfaction and within the given time limit.
STRAIGHT HUNT This event is the same as the Zig-Zag Hunt except that there is only one set of markers set 20 metres apart at the top of the course. The dog aims to hunt the sheep from the starting point, in as straight a line as possible, through the top set of markers. The huntaway's role is to shift sheep with a steady flow of noise directed at the sheep. It should not turn back towards the competitor or, in any way, take its attention off the sheep. Any hunt run should be controlled and progressive, demonstrating the dog's ability to "hunt". As well as winning prize money, the first 5 placings in each event gain qualifying points giving them eligibility to compete at the annual championships. The New Zealand Championships are held in each island alternately. For example, the 2001 "Tux South Island Championship Trials" were held at St Bathans, North Otago, while the combined 2001 "Tux North Island & New Zealand Championship Trials" were held at Whangara, near Gisborne.