Scott Smith and Wynella Pink: Champions of the National Sheepdog Trial Championships

Jul 1, 2024 | Spotlight on our Champions

Scott Smith, a dedicated sheepdog trainer from New South Wales, has recently achieved remarkable success at the 2024 National Sheepdog Trial Championships with his youngest dog, Wynella Pink. Their victory is a testament to Smith’s expertise, hard work, and the unique bond he shares with his dogs.

A Life Dedicated to Sheepdog Training

Scott Smith has been passionate about sheepdogs and trialing for nearly three decades. His journey began under the mentorship of the late Toby Lindsay, who introduced him to the world of Border Collies and sheepdog trials. Smith recalls being captivated from the moment he saw Lindsay working with his dogs, a pivotal experience that set the course for his future.

Smith’s early years in the field were highlighted by his first pup, Lindsay’s Mate, who became a star in “Scott’s Performing Farm Animal Show.” This 20-minute show, which Smith developed and toured across New South Wales, showcased the incredible skills of his animals. However, due to work commitments and starting a family, Smith took a 12-year hiatus from trialing, during which he worked as a zookeeper at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. After his children grew older, he returned to the competitive scene with renewed enthusiasm and focus.

The Training Regimen

Smith’s approach to training is both rigorous and thoughtful. He currently trains four dogs, prioritising the younger ones, like Pink, to ensure they develop the necessary skills early on. His daily training sessions are supplemented by more intensive preparation in the week leading up to a trial, where each dog gets about 15 minutes of focused training.

“Pink was always a standout dog,” says Smith. Named after the singer “Pink” by his wife Jo due to her independent and strong-willed nature, Wynella Pink displayed exceptional loyalty and a unique character from a young age. Smith’s training philosophy emphasises understanding and harnessing these individual traits to bring out the best in each dog.

Philosophy and Success in Trialing

Smith believes that the key to success in sheepdog trialing lies in the relationship between the handler and the dog. “You must have what I call a good friendship/trust credit account,” he explains. Building this trust involves understanding the primary motivators for both the dogs and the sheep. Dogs are driven by sheep, praise, and food, while sheep seek safety and comfort. Balancing these motivations is crucial for effective trialing.

Reflecting on advice from his mentor, Smith notes, “When trialing, usually the slower you go, the further you will go.” This wisdom underscores the importance of patience and control, allowing the dog to work in harmony with the sheep rather than acting unpredictably.

A Triumphant Year

The 2024 National Sheepdog Trial Championships marked a significant milestone in Smith’s career. Competing with three dogs, including Pink, he set a goal to at least reach the finals in the maiden category. Exceeding his own expectations, Pink not only won the maiden but also went on to secure first place in the National Open and fourth place in the improver category.

This remarkable achievement underscores the potential for success with dedication, skill, and a bit of luck. “It goes to show it is possible for anyone with a good dog and a bit of luck,” Smith reflects.

Looking Ahead

With these victories, Smith is now setting his sights on an even bigger stage. “It has always been my dream to represent NSW and Australia in sheepdog trialing,” he says with determination. Confident in Pink’s abilities, Smith is eager to take on new challenges and continue showcasing the extraordinary talents of his dogs.

Scott Smith’s journey from a novice inspired by a mentor to a champion trainer is a story of passion, perseverance, and the deep bond between a handler and his dogs. Wynella Pink’s standout performance at the 2024 National Sheepdog Trial Championships is just the beginning of what promises to be an inspiring legacy in the world of sheepdog trialing.