‘As high as the boards would go’: Northam kelpie cross Walker wins Newdegate dog jump at 2.38m

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
Northam dog trainers Kate and Joel Smith with their children Raine, 2, and Lincoln, 6 months, with their dog Walker, who took out the high jump competition at Newdegate Field Days.
Camera IconNortham dog trainers Kate and Joel Smith with their children Raine, 2, and Lincoln, 6 months, with their dog Walker, who took out the high jump competition at Newdegate Field Days. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

Do not let the name of the winner of this year’s Dog Jumping competition fool you; Walker can do a lot more than that.

The two-year-old kelpie/german shepherd/labrador cross put on a show at Newdegate Machinery Field Days, the crowd watching on in awe as the spring-heeled canine cleared the high jump boards with ease.

In one of the Field Days’ biggest fields yet, he faced off against seven other dogs — both local and from other farming communities — which all managed to clear 2.1 metres.

Among local competitors was last year’s winner and Field Days vice-president Ash McDonald with his border collie Alfie, and Joseph Butcher and Greta Wolzak with their kelpie Ada.

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Newdegate farmer Joseph Butcher and his partner Greta Wolzak.
Camera IconNewdegate farmer Joseph Butcher and his partner Greta Wolzak and their kelpie Ada. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/Countryman

As the boards got higher, Walker was the last one standing, eventually clearing an impressive 2.38m — the highest the boards would go.

Newdegate farmer Ashley McDonald.
Camera IconNewdegate farmer Ashley McDonald. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman

Owners Kate and Joel Smith — who also entered their three-year-old female kelpie Deja in the competition — were very happy with the result.

“He loves jumping — he’s built for it,” Mrs Smith said.

The Northam couple began training dogs three years ago, with Deja a regular on the high jump and long jump circuit.

It was there they met another trainer who wanted to breed their dog and later that year, Walker was born.

He has since made waves, competing at shows in Wandering, Blackwood River, Wagin Woolorama and Beverley, where he jumped a personal best of 2.7m earlier this year.

Competition co-ordinator Alison Spencer said it had been “one of their best ever” years hosting the competition.

“It went very well,” she said. “Eight dogs is pretty good turnout.”

“There were plenty of working dogs and people from out of town, so that was really good.

“Normally we have locals bringing their working dogs in but to have the out-of-towners shows that there’s word out there.”

Setting a fairly high standard usually, Mrs Spencer said the bigger field upped the ante even more.

“By having more dogs... the dogs are thinking about it when they’re starting to get higher and higher,” she said.

“So if the first dog’s pushing them higher all the time, then they’ve got somewhere to go. So it’s a real competition for them.”

The big crowd also added to the competitive atmosphere, with families and farmers alike packing the stands and cheering on as the dogs showcased their athleticism.

“We have a huge crowd every year,” Mrs Spencer said. “It’s nice to know that the crowd was totally entertained by having the eight dogs and the fact that all eight dogs jumped so well.”

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