February 13, 2010

NZ Farm working dogs. Dog Trials. Straight Hunt

By Dr Clive Dalton

The Straight Hunt
This is where the dog has to drive three sheep up a steep slope in as straight a line as possible. These pictures were taken at the Karioi Dog Trial grounds near Raglan in the North Island of New Zealand

Picture 1: The sheep have to be driven straight up the gully on the hill which is about a 45 degree slope. The bottom and middle markers are easy to see on this picture, but the top markers are almost out of sight. The middle of the two top markers is marked with a white peg as the target for the sheep pass to receive top marks.

Picture 2: The competitor is waiting for his three sheep to be released from the pen at the bottom of the hill by 'the releaser', who has his own dog handy to make sure they head in the right direction up the hill. The string on the left is to give a visual barrier to help direct the sheep up the hill. Only when the judge is satisfied that all is in order, does he give the order to start.

The start is always with the dog kept back off the sheep and barking until the handler sees which direction they are going to take. After this, the handler will start to direct the dog to move and direct the sheep straight up the slope. This is not their preferred route as they would rather move off to right or left along the many sheep tracks on a steep slope which is their normal way of grazing hills.

Picture 3: The dog has the sheep moving nicely up the hill aiming for the middle of the first two markers. The handler is now allowed to move from the start position to get a better vision of events as the sheep get further up the hill.

Picture 4: Sheep moving well through the middle markers and the dog nicely placed to cut them off to right or left if needed.

Picture 5: Here the sheep and dog behind them on the right are heading nicely for the peg in the middle of the top markers.

After the judge is sure the sheep are through the top markers the competitor is told to stop. Hopefully this is always before the allocated time is up.

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