Heat wave hard to grasp at trials

Unseasonably warm temperatures turned East Taranaki's usually feisty lambs and residents a little docile at the annual Tarata Sheep Dog Trials in the weekend.

Settlement mayor and club stalwart Bryan Hocken expressed most concern for the "boys" withering under the merciless sun while standing on the hills liberating the lambs for competitors.

"They're being dealt to. It's been about 30 degrees centigrade here. It's a micro climate. The boys were coming back dehydrated. Is that what you say. Is that what you call it," he asked.

It was. Luckily the volunteer liberators were due one free beer at the end of their shift, which went some way to slaking their thirst if doing little for their dehydration.

Event linchpin Tim Lobb said the heat also made the lambs a bit quieter and slower.

"That makes them a bit easier for the heading dogs but it also makes them slower for the huntaways. By the time they've got the lambs to the top of the hill, well it's a bit of slog for them," he said.

Tarata's microclimate had a positive effect on the event's bar takings which in turn benefited the younger generation of future dog trials who found beer boxes could be flattened and used to slide over the grass down tinder dry hills.

"You've got to get the front of the cardboard and you bring it up so it doesn't get stuck when you slide down. It also helps if you have eaten lots of pies," said Courtney Hanlon, 14.

Her brother Carlos, 11, wasn't letting a cast on his left leg keep him away from the potentially bone-breaking fun.

"I reckon we go about 20kmh. But if I go up to the top of that hill I think I could get up to 30kmh," he said with an alarming disregard for personal safety.

Though Tui boxes were the most common, Monteith's cider boxes were the most sought-after for their durability.

Taranaki Daily News