Dog gone

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Dog gone

Going it alone: president of the Korumburra Sheep Dog Club, John Macdonald and trial dog Macdonald Black are happy to stay with tradition.

By Matt Dunn 

THE Korumburra Sheep Dog Club has become a lone wolf, rejecting the state association’s insistence on rule changes.
President John Macdonald said his club had broken away from the Victorian Working Sheep Dog Association, choosing to host its own “traditional” competition last Tuesday.
The Korumburra Sheep Dog Trials have been held for “55 or 56 years” and this year’s event drew competitors from across Victoria and New South Wales.
Mr Macdonald said the association’s raft of new rules had caused consternation for him and other club members, who wanted the status quo to remain.
He maintained that his club would not yield to the dissolution of a well-held tradition, even though there were not as many entrants to this year’s competition as in 2008.
“There was a bit of conflict in the Victorian Working Sheep Dog Association. We were affiliated with them, but this year we’re not,” he said.
“They’ve got a new council and they’ve introduced a lot of new rules. The trial is regarded as a very traditional thing, and we don’t agree with altering the rules.
“So we decided to run this under our own steam. We want it to continue on the way it always has been.”
One of the big rule changes implemented by the association was having three people out on the grounds, helping to keep the sheep moving in the right direction. Mr Macdonald said it was a change that made competition “easier for the dog”.
“It’s still a matter of getting out there and competing against three sheep. It’s bad enough for the judges to have to be out on the course,” Mr Macdonald said.
The club had procured golf buggies from the Korumburra Golf Club to keep the two judges out of the intense sun. 
“One judge is 78 and the other, who’s a novice, is 75,” he explained.
Mr Macdonald said the event was a popular one. Testament to this was the big crowd who came to watch the competition. Adults and schoolchildren alike were thrilled by the performances of the handlers and their clever dogs, who worked in tandem to round up sheep and channel them into pens.
Victorian Working Sheep Dog Association president Colin Reid said the Korumburra club was on its own in rejecting the rule changes.
“He’s (Mr Macdonald) the only one who’s decided to go his own way. So be it, that is his prerogative,” he said.
“I think it’s him being a little staid and not wanting change. We’re trying to give people a fair go, an equal opportunity.
“We’re trying to make everything user-friendly, basically. It makes it more even and people will come to a trial and know that they’ll get a let out they’ll know they can do something with.”
The “let out” of the sheep is seen as crucial to the success of a trial, with the association arguing that sheep need a guiding hand to keep them clear of obstacles on the arena.
“They might get a good let out or they might be on the fence. That’s not fair for everybody. Some of the older school don’t like that idea,” Mr Reid said.
Mr Reid could not say how many clubs were affiliated with the association, but Korumburra was the only club that “was not”.
“Times are changing. Back in John’s day more farmers were doing it. These days it’s more hobby farmers and city people, who are doing it for a sport,” he said.
“Times have changed and we’ve got to change a little bit with them.”

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=114

Posted by SiteAdmin on Nov 17 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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