With the passing of Greg Prince, sheepdog trialling generally, and the National Sheepdog Trial specifically has lost an outstanding influence on our sport and craft.
I consider that Greg's input into dog trialling over his too few years makes him the most influential figure in all aspects of working dog trialling, breeding, dog education and handler training that we have had in Australia.
When we look at his absolute dominance in three sheep trialling, his competitiveness at yard dog trialling, his genius at training dogs and his ability to communicate his ideas to many other handlers through his many schools, then he certainly stands out. Considering that Greg ran a livestock carrying business often with the same dogs he trialled, indicates the depth of his ability to maximise the usefulness of the sheepdog.
Greg made no secret that the National was the trial to win. the trial's significant historical importance in Australia's sheepdog community, and the records that have been kept since 1942, were important factors in his support of the National The fact that all the previous top handlers, breeders and trainers seem to think of the National with the same regard and respect is supported by the many names that appear on the National Open Winners shields.
When we look at these results of the 74 Nationals that have been decided, Greg has won sixteen times (21% of all the Nationals Opens held) with eleven separate dogs, six of which carried the 'Princes' prefix. Equally impressive is his record of sixteen wins in 27 years (60%) since he won his first National Open with Rosedale Lady in 1989.
Many of these trial dogs went on to have a huge influence on the breeding of our present trial and working dogs. Dogs like 'Princes Clyde' and 'Princes Smudge' and many others come to mind.
As a trailer, Greg was the ultimate, committed competitor, no favours asked or given. When the trial was finished he was very good at what he had a lot of practice at - winning; and equally good at what he didn't practice very often - not winning.
It seemed to me that when the pressure was on and he needed a top score he could 'put it all together' and produce the outstanding performance. I have witnessed this more than once at National finals. I thought that in 2016 working 'Tippers Brigalow' Greg's run in the final showed this ability very well.
I hope these few observations show what an influence Greg Prince has had, and will continue to have for many years, on working sheepdogs. Will his records ever be bettered? I think not, but having said that I remember when it was believed that Geoff Jolly's record of six wins could not be bettered.
It is with sadness, and a sense of loss to the world of working sheepdog trialling that we bid Greg Prince Farewell.
1st Queens Trophy JOHN PERRY WITH BOCO RAFFA
2nd Barry Paton with Patons Sting (equal second)
2nd Mick Hudson with MGH Jess (equal second)
4th Geoff Gibson with Swampoak Myah
5th Charlie Cover with Oakdean Bloke
6th Barry Paton with Dodgers Sting
7th Tony Elliot with OK Cooper
2018 National Improver Champion
1st The National Improver Trophy BILL DAVIDSON WITH MGH BLUE
2nd Laurie Slater with Zeefree Troy
3rd Charlie Cover with Windeyer Reba
We know everyone is desperate to know how the day went but the Results haven't arrived. I am blaming Satellite internet.
The Maiden raffle was won by Bow Cover. Still time to get tickets for two more draws on Sunday. Great odds with maximum 30 tickets per draw.
First: Mick Hudson with MGH Rabbit 183
Second: Bill Davidson with MGH Bluey 179
Third: Carol Trainor with MGH Wisper 172
Fourth: Geoff Gibson with Gibsons Luci 171
Fifth: Leigh Foster with Me Mate Mildred 86
Charlie Cover was born in Coonamble in 1938 and started Sheepdog Trialling as a young man, but his career took him on other paths until he and wife Bow moved to Yass in 1988, where he took up Sheepdog Trialling seriously. The Windeyer prefix was registered by Charlie's father Ron in the 1950's, since that time there has always been a Windeyer dog competing in sheepdog trials somewhere in the eastern states and this continues to this day.
Charlie worked at ANU in Canberra and during this time he trained many athletes in High-jump and Hurdles. He now brings his passion for training and Sheepdog Trialling together to educate both dogs, men, and women in the art of Three Sheep Trialling. Charlie claims this sport is the most challenging because of the involvement of three different species-- human, sheep, and dog.
Charlie has had an active and continuing role in the sport, running the Henty Trial in the Riverina for many years. He has been the NSW Secretary for 10 years, and President of the National Sheepdog Trial for 6 years. This is now renamed the Greg Prince Memorial National Sheepdog Championship in memory of Greg Prince, winner of 16 National Sheepdog Trials.
Come along to the Trial and see these three species interact and the great team work between these magnificent dogs and their handlers.
Contributed by Bill Chalmers.
Laurie Slater with Marlon
Laurie was born in Gundagai 1933, one of seven children. Born to hard work on the farm he was taken out of school at 12 years of age and set to shepherding sheep during the summer in the hills Tumbarumba with dogs and a rough hessian blanket for company, basic supplies delivered once a week. Back home he would ride his pony to bring in the draught horses for the ploughing but was too small to lift the harness onto these huge horses.
Laurie said has farther always had very good Border Collie working dogs. There was also a pack of rabbit dogs, mainly greyhounds (too slow for racing) and fox terriers. To take the horses to work they had to swim the river in the morning and back again in the afternoon. neither Laurie nor his father could swim.
At 17 he got a job on Bongongo Station (32,000 acres) at Adjungbilly on the north western edge of the Snowy Mountains, wild country where the manager sacked most of the jackaroos and employed Laurie and his six collies to do their work. he stayed for 30 years. Sir Walter Merriman renowned for his contribution to the pastoral industry commented when buying stock from Bongongo Station that he always wanted Laurie "to hold the stock" he had travelled Australia buying stock and had "never seen anything like him". At 19 Laurie went for National Service, his employer was very unwilling to let him go but for Laurie it was the best time for the young live wire especially after years of "only talking to dogs and blow flies".
Laurie competed in rodeos until he was 50, he rode as a hazer for his son Wayne, who under his instruction became a champion bulldogger travelling the world. He trained many young rodeo riders at on time in his long career. When breaking horses, he had a cattle dog, who if the horse threw him, would chase after it, grab the reins and bring the horse back.
He started Three Sheep Dog Trialling in 1983 at Goulburn. As a new comer he sat seasoned competitors back on their heels after winning the second trial he competed in. Laurie started his Wondara breeding line of sheepdogs in 1985 with a dog called Cloudy and a bitch he purchased from the well known trialler, Ross Dodge. He didn't choose his pups he kept them all to see how they would work, starting at around 7-9 months. Basically keeping most of the pups, ones not suitable for trialling would go as good working farm dogs. Laurie likes people and is keen to pass on his knowledge always with a glint in his eye and with a sense of mischief and good fun. Laurie's superb stockmanship has given him the edge with three sheep trialling, which he maintains even into his eighth decade . Laurie will be competing at the Greg Prince Memorial National Trail at Hall this year, so come say hello and watch the master at work!
Contributed by Bill Chalmers.
Tom is one of the few if not the only three legged sheep dog competing in three sheep dog trials. He comes from a long line of purebred working border collies. He broke his left hind leg tearing around with other young dogs at twelve months of age. His boisterous nature and tolerance for pain lead to loosening of the metal plates and then bone pins so the fracture would not heal and the leg was amputated. If he noticed he was a leg short he never let on, so we continued training.
Ideally a handler should be born in a shearing shed and be suckled like Romulus and Remus by a Border Collie. I started at 68 years of age and Tom is my first sheep dog. His main impediment has been my lack of experience and inability to remember the commands AWAY (anti clockwise) and COME BYE (clockwise). It is a testament to his bidability and drive that we recently won an Encourage Class and then come fourth in the higher level the Novice at the next trial (beating 60 other dogs).hen awarding his ribbon the judge remarked "He only has three legs but the heart of a lion!".
Tom along with around one hundred and eighty dogs will be competing in "The Greg Prince National Memorial Trial" held at Hall, ACT Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 March 2018.
Contributed by Bill Chalmers