January 23, 2010

NZ farm working dogs. Dog Trials. Zig Zag Hunt

By Dr Clive Dalton

Picture 1. This picture shows markers 'zig-zagging' up the hill on the course. The sheep start at the bottom and are moved to the left, then they move to the right, and complete the course by moving to the left again. The competitor is waiting for the sheep to be released on the left at the bottom of the hill.

Picture 2. Here the sheep have been released, and the competitor waits with his dog for the order to start. Note how the dog stands between the handler's legs - this is a very common bit of behaviour, and shows the great bond between dog and handler. Dogs will often go up and lean on their owner.

Picture 3. The sheep are on their way in this picture and a course assistant is pulling on a rope to shake flags and stop the sheep escaping to the right, and to help direct them up the hill ready for the competitor to get the order to start.

Picture 4. The dog is working here - keeping well back and moving slowly behind sheep using its bark on command. The dog must always look directly at the sheep (called 'facing up'), and never look at the handler or points will be lost.

Picture 5. The classical stance of a good strong Huntaway, facing up to sheep and hunting them up the hill. The dog here is 'putting pressure' on the sheep - using its bark and dominant presence. He's a big dog and to a sheep will look a formidable predator.

Picture 6. Again, here's a great example of a Huntaway getting the command to move left to turn the sheep in the other direction. Note how well it's facing up to the sheep, listening to commands, from the handler at the bottom of the hill.

Picture 7. Here the sheep are going through the first pair of markers with dog well below on the left of them. It will now be directed to go left, to drive the sheep right so they head for the second pair of markers.

Picture 8. Here the move described above is completed. The dog did this by keeping back off the sheep and using its presence and bark.

The hunt continues up the hill until the sheep are driven through the last pair of markers at the top of the hill, and the judge tells the competitor to stop. Assistants out of sight at the top of the hill then collect the sheep.

If the allocated time has been taken up without completing the course, the judge will shout 'Time' and the competitor will call off the dog. Other course assistants will then remove the sheep for the next competitor to start their run.

No matter how good or badly the dog has done, the competitor always gives the dog a pat to reinforce their bond.

No comments:

Post a Comment