Sheep dog trials a family affair for Tony

Kate PollardCountryman

Denmark farmer Tony Boyle has been sheep dog and yard trialling for 28 years and loves the atmosphere, the people and the mateship.

A few years ago, during a fight with cancer, Mr Boyle experienced how his competitors were part of an extended family.

"Every night I would get a phone call from people from across Australia and I will never forget how it helped," he said.

Last weekend at the 2012 National Australian Yard Dog Championships in Wagin, Mr Boyle had the chance to compete and catch up with his extended family.

More than 140 competitors, including Tasmanians, New South Welshmen and Victorians, were out in force, not only to see Mr Boyle, but to compete at the annual championships, hosted in WA every six years.

Racing the clock, each competitor and their working dog go through a series of obstacles that mirror jobs in the sheep yards, including moving sheep through a race, unloading and loading a trailer and much more.

After four days of trialling and judging, kelpie Go Getta Brue, owned by Victorian representative Joe Spicer, was awarded top dog and national champion.

NSW competitor Kevin Howell and kelpie Karana Sami came second and Williams competitor Ken Atherton with border collie Ramulam Gus were placed third.

Winner of the novice was Andrew Gordon with border collie Just Martha and winner of the open was Mr Spicer with Go Getta Bosker.

The action continues this week in Kellerberrin at the National Kelpie Championships, which run until Sunday.

The utility course combines field and yard work to test the skills of the best kelpies in Australia.

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