Mid afternoon I just felt like getting out with my camera. Despite it being a gloomy day with steady rain that’s what I felt like, so that’s what I did. I had no idea what I was looking for but just looked around for what I could see.
I didn’t expect to see a small crowd gathered on a neighbours property for sheep dog trials.
When I got home I learned they were there for the 99th Annual Maungakaramea trials. Searching a bit further I discovered that the first dog trials were held in New Zealand in 1867, in Australia in 1981, in the UK in 1873 and in USA in the 1880s. That’s one for the books.
In sheep dog trials, there are several events, but the key element is the control of three to six sheep by one or two highly trained dogs under the control of a single handler. Both time and obedience play a part, as competitors are penalized if a sheep strays from the prescribed course. Another popular event involves having the dog split six sheep into two groups of three and conducting each group in turn to small pens through a defined course by heading dogs. The group not being led is guarded by one of the two dogs, an eye-dog (from its ability to keep the sheep still by head movement alone). This is more difficult than it sounds because the two groups of sheep invariably try to stay together. Anyone who has worked with sheep cannot but help admire the skill of both the dogs and their handler.
I didn’t have any of that on mind when I left home. Actually I didn’t have much of anything on my mind. But I’m very happy with the results of an empty mind. I stopped and took photos out the car window at spots I don’t usually notice: