Better late than never for new national champion
It's taken Kaituna dog triallist Peter Kidd 45 years to win his first national title, and it's been worth every minute of the wait.
Since starting in 1969, the closest he had come was fourth in the national zig-zag hunt and second in the South Island championships when they were held near Pleasant Point in 1984.
National success came last Friday, when Kidd closed the pen for the best points tally in the short head and yard to end a good run at the Tux New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Championships in Geraldine.
"It's been worth [the wait] - every bit," said a jubilant Kidd, who farms near Little River and is registered with the Tai Tapu Collie Club.
Kidd and his nine-year-old dog Chief - the oldest in the competition - clinched the South Island championships in the first round, and followed that up in the second leg with the national title.
The pair accumulated 95.75 points in the first run and backed this up with 96 in the second for a total of 191.75 points to beat Bob Bruce, from Otane, and his dog Skip, with 190.5 points. Barry Hobbs and Ben, from Oamaru, were third on 188.5 points.
Kidd drew the last run of the seven finalists, which he was happy with, saying it allowed him to measure the other competitors' performances.
Despite the big moment, he did not feel nervous.
"It was probably the last end of the second run, when it was all going pretty well [that some doubt might have crept in], and we came up to the pen, when things can go bad quickly, and I thought, 'If Chief can get them in, we will do quite nicely'."
Kidd was also in the running with Quake for the zig-zag huntaway final until Thursday, when they dropped off the pace, but this failed to blunt the celebrations. "It's taken a wee while to get used to [the win]. You don't get a win like that too often.
"There are those who have won two, three or four times, but not many have won three, and Lloyd Smith from Palmerston has won five.
"I have a long way to go to get there, and am not likely, either. But I'm not worried, because I have always wanted to win one, and have done that, so that's OK."
Kidd said the competition and the camaraderie had kept him coming back, even after a self- imposed ban from 1985 to 2000, when he concentrated on his family and buying a farm.
For the last 14 years, however, he has been a regular on the dog trialling circuit.
Kidd said Chief remained active despite his age, and had proved his worth as an eye dog against "smart and cheeky" drysdale sheep during the competition.
The no-nonsense Chief had a strong will, and the sheep could sense this and co-operated, when they might play up with a dog showing any sense of doubt, he said.
"Dogs are a bit like people. He comes out every day on the farm, and we keep him fit and active, because if you leave them, they fatten up and just sleep and eat.
"He's smart . . . and a good, honest bloke."
Chief may be allowed his own celebration, with Kidd considering breeding from him to extend his dog trialling bloodline. Now that he is longer in the tooth, his working life with Kidd and wife Maree will be reserved for the smaller hills.
Kidd plans to continue working with Chief, and will probably blood young huntaway Tuff and heading bitch Pip in next year's competition.