Shawn McAvinue talks to triallist Alex Delay (27), the winner of the heading dog event at the Black & Tan Young Guns run-off at Jeff Farm between Mataura and Clinton last month.
Q Where do you farm?
I’m the stock manager on a 260ha sheep and beef farm in the Pourakino Valley between Riverton and Otautau. I work for a fellow called Geordie Eade.
Q Do I hear an accent?
Yeah, I’m from England. I’ve been in New Zealand for more than five years and I’ve been down here for nearly four years and I got my residency last year.
Thanks. It’s real hard to get visas and when you get your residency, it’s such a relief.
Q Were you farming in England?
Yes, I have been since the age of 15.
Q Did you work dogs in England?
No, Jill was my first ever working dog and she’s 4 years old now. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I started training her. I was given Jill from Greenvale farmer Alan ‘‘Snow’’ Stewart, who is a good triallist and he had to train me and the dog.
Q Have you entered the annual Young Guns competition before?
Yes. Jill won the heading dog competition in Greenvale last year.
Q What age do you have to be to enter the Young Guns competition?
You have to be younger than 30 and you’re not allowed to have won an open.
Q What was the prize for winning your event?
I won $250 cash and a couple of dog jackets, a concrete dog bowl and some Purina dog food and some other stuff.
Q Of the five triallists in the runoff in your event, how many penned their sheep?
In the pen the sheep were quite sticky and three of us managed to pen. It was hard work getting them into the pen
— that was the hardest part of the day. There’s a lot of pressure on you at that time because you are standing on the edge, waiting for your dog to edge the sheep closer and closer and as soon as the judge calls time and you’ve got the sheep in the pen, it’s a challenge to shut the gate so none of the sheep get out.
Q It must have been a good feeling getting the gate shut.
Yeah, it feels like your soul has just left your body and you let out the biggest sigh of relief. You’ve got your pen and the job’s done and you congratulate your dog and it’s time for them to have a drink and a rest.
Q Are you going to attempt the threepeat next year?
I’m young enough but I think I’m going to try and help run it because it’s a lot of work for [event co-organiser] Kim [Clark] and give a younger competitor a chance to step in and take on the challenge and be the next Young Gun. I could enter with a different dog but I wouldn’t enter Jill because she knows what’s she’s doing a bit too much now.
Q Have you got more working dogs?
I’ve got five dogs at the minute — I seemed to have collected one every year. I’ve two huntaways and three headings dogs including a 12-week-old pup , so he’s my next project. It feels good to break a dog in and you let it go up a hill and it listens to you — there’s a lot of satisfaction in that.
Q Now you’re a fully fledged Kiwi are you going to stay in the South or are you going to break in a blue heeler and go work over the Ditch?
No, I’ll stay here and try and get on some bigger country somewhere — Jill like the big hills — and my girlfriend lives in Gore so I’ll try and get a bit closer to her as well.