WITH sheep prices at an all-time high and sheep becoming a popular commodity for many farmers, what is better than having a loyal four-legged mate to help out?
The West Australian Sheep Dog Association (WAWSDA) is an association with members who are dedicated to these working sheep dogs.
Working sheep dogs can be one of several breeds, some of which include Border Collies, Kelpies, Huntaways and crossbreeds.
Each dog is bred to use its natural instincts to assist sheep handlers in all aspects of sheep work.
The WAWSDA strives to encourage not only sheep breeders and handlers but the general public to have a greater interest in working sheep dogs and their work.
The WAWSDA also promotes and assists in the running of the sheep dog trials in WA.
The WA sheep dog trials have a long proud history, with the first association trial held in 1936 and has since grown from one trial a year to a dozen or more.
The WAWSDA is made up of six affiliated clubs, which hold sheep dog trials across the State from Ballidu to Albany.
These trials range from arena trials (working three sheep around a designated course) to more farm based yard and utility trials, which consist of both yard and paddock components.
The last State yard and utility trial was held over three and a half days, in Kellerberrin.
The sheep that were worked were excellent trial sheep, as they proved quite good at navigating the obstacles in the utility section, but were clever enough to keep both the handlers and dogs on their toes.
When it came to the yard trial section, the sheep were well behaved going through the pens and race, but proved difficult to gather and put into the first pen.
Then, when it came to loading and unloading the sheep onto a truck, the sheep tended to cram together, making it difficult for the handlers and dogs.
There are four classes that can be entered in a yard and utility trial including novice yard, novice utility, open yard and open utility.
Once a novice class is won, the dog that won that class is moved up to open status and can only run in the open class.
The winners of the State yard and utility were as follows:
Novice Yard: 1st and 2nd place, Allan Dunn, with Kelpies Dash and Yarralonga Ethol.
Novice Utility: 1st place, Grant Cooke with Border Collie Badgingarra Fly; 2nd place, Rick Janitz with Border Collie Badgingarra Izzy.
Open yard: 1st place, Nan Lloyd with Kelpie Kumbark Ace; 2nd place Allan Dunn with Kelpie Gogetta Thor.
Open Utility: 1st place, Grant Cooke with Border Collie Grassvalley Sky; 2nd place, Gordon Curtis and Kelpie Whites Joe.
All events were hotly contested and there was a great spirit of competition and friendship throughout the event.
People are encouraged to take classes which are held at most trials to give budding enthusiasts a chance to try their hand at this wonderful past time.
There was a set of arena trials at held at Ballidu last week from August 1-4, while the next trials will be at Kendenup on August 16-18 and Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days on August 28-29.
Visitors are always welcome and there are a multitude of dog handlers available and willing to talk about the event and their dogs.
More information or to learn how to train your dog, go online to