Dogs put to the test

SOME of Tasmania’s best dog and handler combinations will be in action early next month at the 2023 Henry Homan Memorial Trial. The trial is being run on February 3 by the Meander Working Sheepdog Club and will be held at the Meander Recreation Ground.

There are expected to be about 40 entries in the three-sheep trial event, which will run over two days if required. The trialling action will kick off at 8am and the program will include classes for novice, improver and open dogs.

Sheep for the trial will be supplied by the Johnson family and the club has also received excellent support from the local community and businesses. Long-time club member and sheep dog trial competitor Geoff Elmer started in the sport in 1990. He said the sport can be enjoyed by people of all ages. “It’s a challenge,“ he said.

“Three sheep is a bigger challenge than the yard dogs, because you’ve got to have your dogs trained very well because with three sheep trials you’re out in the open.”

After starting with Smithfields, Mr Elmer now breeds border collies at his property at Dunorlan. He will have three dogs competing at the trial including Dunorlan Spot, who will be making his competition debut. Mr Elmer said the club committee and the local community were big supporters of the trial, which was named in honour of long-time sheep dog trialler and Meander local Henry Homan.

“The locals and the community are really behind it,” Mr Elmer said.

Judging the trial this year will be John Bramich from King Island. Spectators are welcome to attend the event and there will be food and refreshments available, including a barbecue lunch. In an effort to encourage new and younger members to get involved, the club is also planning to run training days for people who may be interested later in the year.

Mr Elmer said there are now also more women competing in the sport. With competitions held all over the state, Mr Elmer said that the sport was a good way for people to get out and about. He said older club member were happy to share their skills and experience with people just starting out in the sport.

To find out more go to the Tasmanian Working Sheep Dog Association Facebook page.