An idea to encourage livestock producers to breed and train good working dogs is still going strong 40 years on at the South East Field Days.
The Lucindale trial was the first one held on mainland Australia in 1982 and has been held every year since, including the past two years when the field days have been cancelled.
After watching a trial being run in New Zealand on TV, Gerald Martin remembers approaching the field days committee asking for a set of portable yards, 300 wethers and a few hay bales to run the first event.
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"Too many dogs on farms back 40 years ago were just a product of a couple of dogs getting together and the neighbour would give you a pup and you would let him go with your old dogs, sometimes it was worked sometimes it didn't," he said.
"We didn't think that people were getting the most out of their dogs."
That first year, Mr Martin -who was farming at Wattle Range, near Penola at the time - says they had 36 dogs.
He remembers such a big crowd watching on that the organisers asked them to have a break before lunch so that field day goers would go back to looking around the stall holders.
"The Lucindale Lions Club were so good to work with, they deserve a lot of the credit," he said.
Neil McDonald, Sherwood Kelpies, Keith, was the inaugural winner with a kelpie-collie cross dog called Max.
"It was a bit of a dare like 'I bet you couldn't go there with your dog'," he said.
"We went shearing that day shore two sheep and voted them out wet straight away so we could come."
Mr McDonald recalls the course being fairly similar to today's with entrants and their dogs having to get the sheep out of a paddock equivalent to about two tennis court areas, through a draft, on and off a tandem trailer, through a drenching race and then put them away.
"I had always seen a lot of dogs run through the middle of the mob and spill and chase sheep but he (Max) was always a dog that wanted to go around them," he said.
"He probably wasn't as dynamic in the yards as we see nowadays but he was careful where he put himself and that got him over the line."
This year Mr McDonald was was back at Lucindale competing for the first time in 22 years with a couple of dogs.
Mr Martin is "stoked" to see the expansion of yard dog trials over the years, including Lucindale which in 2022 saw more than 300 runs of the two courses over the three days.
"We couldn't have believed it has worked as well as it has," he said.
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