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.