MICK Hudson reckons one good sheepdog is as good as eight men.
The dog trialler from Cobar, in western New South Wales, is in the south-west for the annual sheepdog trials at Koroit and Port Fairy with his wife Carolyn and 13 dogs.
“It’s a nice, cool environment down here,” he said.
“It’s such a nice place. We usually make it an annual family holiday.” Mr Hudson’s father Pip is also a dog trialler, as was his grandfather.
“A little bit of luck is involved, but it generally is up to the dog,” he said.
“We breed a few ourselves. We look for natural ability, trainability, calmness and a good nature.
“From three months of age we let the pups have a look at the sheep, but we don’t put pressure on the dogs until they are about 12 months old. We just let them play.
“After 12 months we work on the finer details and they need experience.” Mr Hudson uses a whistling technique to direct his dogs.
“You can use hand signals, word of mouth or whistling,” he said.
“Most people use mouth or whistle. You are not allowed to help your dog at all.”
A regular competitor at Port Fairy, this is the first time Mr Hudson has been to Koroit in years.
“I remember coming to Koroit for the first time when I was 17,” Mr Hudson said.
“We will be back. We travel into Victoria as they are noted trials. We don’t travel much interstate except for these two (competitions).”
The Hudsons run a sheep station in Cobar. “Dogs are a part of our life,” he said.
“They are really important to me. I’m looking after 80,000 acres (32,374 hectares) with 6000 sheep. It would be impossible to run sheep stations without dogs, unless you had 20 staff. One good dog is as good as eight men. They are irreplaceable.
“Trialling is a way for us to showcase our skills as farmers,” he said.
The Hudsons enjoy the welcoming atmosphere at competitions, and a large number of dog triallers are camped around the oval at Koroit in their caravans.
“It’s like a big family. You just catch up with people wherever you left off.”
The Koroit Sheepdog Trails are on until Sunday and the Commonwealth Sheepdog Trials at Port Fairy start on Monday.