Dog trials riders are a dedicated group.
Father and daughter Clark and Lana Chrystal left home in the North Island at 1 a.m. on Saturday to catch the Cook Strait ferry, before driving six hours on Sunday from Amberley to Alexandra for the dog championships of South Island Shepherd.
While Mr. Chrystal was an experienced rider and had taken part in many heats, this was the first time his daughter had competed in the championships.
Miss Chrystal (20) got her first dog when she was 16 and raised it when she was still at school. She became a shepherd two years ago and this was her third season competing in the sport.
She grew up on a dairy farm – having a dairy farm, a dad who tested dogs caused some fun – and she now worked on a large property on the Napier-Taihape Road.
She was “super excited” to qualify two hunters, Belle and Carla, for the South Island Championships. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Her father had both dogs as puppies and he brought Carla in, while Belle was the first hunt she had done on her own. Belle qualified first, then Carla was a last minute qualifier just over a week ago.
The courses were large at Earnscleugh Station and very different to those on the North Island, and Miss Chrystal admitted she felt ‘a bit sick’ when she first saw them on Sunday.
She had also never worked Merino sheep and expected to be very nervous.
“I just hope my dogs do their best and not be mean,” she said.
But she loved seeing the results of the work she did for her dogs pay off and having the opportunity to compete.
Her father was a model; someone she looked up to in sports, and she loved traveling and spending the week with him. “He’s a bit of a hero, yeah,” she said.
Later this month she would be lining up for the New Zealand Championships, which were only about an hour and a half from her place of work, so it would be a much shorter journey.
The standings for the South Island Sheepdog Trials Championships at 4pm yesterday (in no particular order). —
long head (judged until race 53): Brian Dickison and Cole, Kevin O’Connor and Jax, Anthony Barton and Joy, Alistair Dickson and Bruce, Steve Murphy and Edge, Ed Aubrey and Bell, Stuart Millar and Laddie.
Short head and court (judged until race 35): Roger Tweed and Trump, Brendon Stewart and Swift, Graham Duff and Jess, Alistair Campbell and Flo, Neil Evans and Lad, Philip McMurray and Mist, Mark Copland and Deb.
Zigzag chase (judged to run 65): Jo McIntyre and Sam, Steve Kerr and Charge, Boyd Tisdall and Gee, Bruce Parkinson and Holly, Josh Brennan and Rock, Hamish Parkinson and Force, Steve Kerr and Holly.
Direct flush (tried to execute 57): Henry Hindmarsh and Crim, Cam Bain and Hercules, Michael Benton and Ernie, Brian Sparrow and Jerry, Grant Calder and Apps, Steve Kerr and Rich, Robbie Calder and Angus.
— sally rae