I was talking to Rodney Garrett about running a stock-handling event at the Imbil Show grounds in the beautiful Mary Valley in S.E. Queensland. (Rodney says it has a great bar on a Saturday night.) A school or clinic perhaps? No let’s have a fairdinkum contest for all comers. A trial, yes, but not a demonstration of a persons control over a dog, but an honest attempt to exhibit the teamwork displayed between human, dog/s and livestock so essential for an efficient and profitable pastoral industry in Australia. As this region is sub-tropical , sheep are in the minority, so, the livestock will be cattle.
This is where you can help. I will describe a format that should achieve the stated teamwork outcome as well as provide entertainment and awe for spectators. Please offer your comments and ideas as this is very much a work in progress.
- One Judge. The course is designed to remove as much subjectivity as possible.
- Competitors can use from 1 to 3 dogs. They can not alter the number of dogs from start to finish of the trial.
- There will be more than one mob of 20 head of dog educated cattle. Each mob will be made up of 5 sub-mobs of colour coded cattle. The colours will be prominently marked to be obvious to competitors and spectators.
- The Judge will tell the first competitor his/her colour.
- The competitor will start at a gate on the edge of the arena.
- The contest starts with a cast, lift and draw of the first mob of 20 head. 15 points (Cast 5, lift 5, draw 5.)
- When the cattle are held quietly at the gate by the dog/s the competitor will attempt to draft the 4 head with his nominated colour through that gate. 16 points. (3 for each beast and 4 for calmness and safety) (The competitor may draft a wrong coloured beast or draft too many cattle and continue but will lose points accordingly.)
- The remaining cattle will be yarded through an alternate gate with the competitor remaining in the arena. 4 points.
- The competitor will now position the dog/s in the arena in front of the initial gate and move the 4 drafted cattle out of the holding yard. The cattle must stop and be held by the dog/s. 10 points (Dogs waiting calmly, livestock walking out. 5 points Cattle halting and given relief by the dogs 5 points. The competitor may choose to have an assistant hold the dog/s but will concede the associated points.
- A modified, shorter campdraft course (figure 8 and gate represented by the traditional sapling trees) must be completed by the cattle with maximum points being achieved at the walk and inside the marked tramlines. The width of the tramlines is at the discretion of the judge. It is expected that the cattle will follow the handler for this section. 18 points. (Course 6, tramlines 6, rate 6.)
- After completing the “gate” the cattle will be settled in the centre of a “Target” Concentric circles marked on the ground Smallest circle 20 points, then 15, 10 and 5. After settling the dog/s will hold the cattle while the handler opens a gate in a set of portable panels in the arena and then returns to the mob. 20 points
- The handler and dog/s will drive the cattle through the opened gateway, closing the gate and move to the put away gate. Time is on the closing of that gate. 20 points.
Notes: The time allowed for this course will need to be assessed based on the size of the arena. Ultimately it will be the call of the judge and announced before the trial.
The second competitor will be given a fresh mob of twenty head of similarly colour marked cattle and the first mob will be rested. For a large number of entrants the number of mobs will be increased. The next contestant using mob 1 will be drafting out the next colour in the sequence based on a draw. Competitors nominating for multiple runs will be slotted into the draw so they have sufficient time to get organised.
A horseman with a whip will be onsite to “crack off” any runs displaying unnecessary violence towards the cattle and to assist with moving cattle from unfinished runs.
Prize money will depend on how we go attracting sponsorship. Entry fees will be commensurate with the prize pool.
Please assist us with your comments.