CONCENTRATION: Dog trials are a popular feature of the Ipswich Show.
CONCENTRATION: Dog trials are a popular feature of the Ipswich Show.

Collies and kelpies to showcase skills at dog trails

DOG trials are going to be a big feature of this year's Ipswich Show, with sheepdog demonstrations plus your chance to see a sheep sheared by a professional.

Everyone loves the Ipswich Show because it brings the country to the city, and often is the only chance for children to get up close to animals.

Joy Williams travels all over this big red land to shows and she takes her dogs with her, who like nothing more than rounding up sheep.

Some breeds of dogs are bred for this kind of work, and Joy says that's why most times you'll see one particular breed of dog rounding up the sheep.

"The main breed used are border collies and kelpies. In the trial ring its about 90 per cent border collies and 10 per cent kelpies. We're talking the Australian working border collies, not the fluffy Lassie types you see on shows or TV," Joy said.

"We have so much fun doing this, it's great to be at the show and seeing the looks on kids' faces.

"We do another thing each year in Brisbane called Rural Discovery for kids, and its everything rural for them to experience, just like the Ipswich Show.

"We take the dogs and sheep and the idea is to feel touch and look ... kids are just fascinated. The Ipswich Show is normally the only time of year when kids can get up close and personal to the animals that we have on farms every day."

There will also be a shearer every day who will demonstrate how to separate a sheep from all that wool.

"I've never actually tried to shear a sheep myself, but I know it is really hard work.

"Geoff will be there with us over the Ipswich Show and he must be extra careful not to cut the sheep, but it can happen.

"To save the kids getting upset he'll tell them it is just like Dad cutting himself while shaving, which it pretty much is. He explains everything he's doing during the demonstration so come and check it out," Joy said.

Joy said training dogs could take a long time, but it varied for all animals.

"It really depends on the dog, how long it takes to train them. I have a dog that is nearly two, for example, and he's not ready, whereas we have another from the same litter that is working now.

"It all depends on the trainer and the dog, some never make it and are better off on a farm where they must round up sheep, but the trial circuit is a different kettle of fish and it takes lots of discipline.

"There are dogs that are soft in their mannerisms, others that are hard, some dogs may think they are smarter than me... you can't lose your lolly at a dog in the show ring so you have to have the right dog. Often you will watch a dog and their eyes are totally fixed on the sheep. If a sheep breaks the dog knows it will break before you do ... they watch carefully the movements, as it could be the twitch of an ear that gives it away and the dog is all over it. So many times, they will go to stop a break before I've even noticed it, that's how good they are."

Joy says the dogs don't get treats as a reward.

"They get a pat on the head, that's it. They love doing this, it is what they were bred to do."



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