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They are a test of dog and man.

A farmers’ dogs are the tools of the trade, and the annual dog trials are the opportunity to test their skills, according to St Bathans Collie Club life member Murray Heckler.

The Omakau shepherd took part in the St Bathans Collie Club’s dog trials at Dunstan Burn Station, near St Bathans Domain, on Monday, keeping a close eye on the action on the hills.

While farming may have become more technology focused, Mr Heckler said he was more “old school”.

“The dogs are really a part of our life, especially on hill country and stuff the sheep in otherwise.”

They’ve all got drones and stuff nowadays but you still need dogs to get the sheep in,” he said.

“Drones might be useful but I’ve never used one. I don’t know anything about them school, you see.”

Mr Heckler had been involved in the St Bathans Club since the early 1980s when it hosted the South Island competition.

“I’ve been involved ever since.”

The camaraderie and people he met were part of what kept him involved in the club for so long, he said.

Club president Tom Goble said the annual competition attracted local farmers and competitors from throughout Otago to showcase their dogs.

“I manage [Dunstan Burn Station] and the staff here all get involved.

“It’s a great thing to catch up with everyone and a good community thing to do really,” he said.

“[Dog trialling is] sort of the only sport that comes to mind out of farming, otherwise you can struggle to get off the farm a bit, especially the last few months where farmers are pretty busy, so it’s good to have a a couple days of catch up with people and run your dog.

“Whether you go serious or not, it s all part of it.”

In its 99th year, the St Bathans Collie Club was preparing to celebrate its centenary next year, he said.