Dogs at the centre of action on Rural Day
The social whirl, the waiting for events to start, and the pressure to perform to perfection in front of large crowds all proved a little too much for some of the canine contestants in Feilding.
The fox terrier Manu put his best paw forward, but he couldn't cut it with the big huntaway farm dogs, their style and their barks.
Hundreds of people made their way to Feilding on Friday as town and country rubbed shoulders at the annual Rural Day. .
Alan Irwin and his dog Oscar won first prize for the dog's big bark and good control in the Huntaway Big Bark competition.
Eighteen dogs were put through their paces, and barked and wove their way through cones towards the bait - a pen of three hoggets near the clocktower - while hundreds of people lined Kimbolton Road to watch them at work.
Willie Jones, a Taihape shepherd, was there with his dog. But James the huntaway was so over-awed by the big crowd that, and instead of barking and making his way to the sheep, he ran off course, scared a child, then had a pee. All in a day's work for James!
Then Charlie came out, and a child asked "Is that a golden labrador?" Actually, it was a brindle huntaway. And when Charlie barked, there was no mistaking him for a labrador.
Judge Geoff White checked each of the huntaways and owners, marking them for noise, dog style and control.
He liked Oscar's slow movement towards the sheep and his big bark.
"Some of the dogs ran a little fast, but the winner showed real control."
Eileen McQuillan's dog Tara, only one year old, won the crowd's heart when she failed to bark, or run, but instead visited people watching the event for a pat. Ms McQuillan won the special prize - a pair of camouflage knickers. There was nothing for Tara, though.
The other highlight of Rural Day was the gumboot relay. Teams went through the saleyards, dodging farmers and stock agents and hurdling gates before passing their gumboots on to the next team member to wear.
The winner was the police team, which was neck and neck with another team until the final leg. Then officer Lee Oudenryn, a former winger for the Warrior's rugby league team, won the final sprint.
Team manager Neil Martin, a rural police officer, swore the team had no practice, but planned to go for a debrief at a Feilding bar.
The first women's team home was Fisher print. The green-wigged Manawatu District Council team won the best-dressed award.