Alyssa Brown and Magpie run around the Bonalbo Showgrounds enjoying their game of chasey.
Alyssa is 10 and Magpie, nicknamed Maggie, is eight.
Alyssa’s father Phil Brown said when his daughter wasn’t playing with Maggie, she was playing with the lambs on the family farm at Woolbrook, four hours drive from Bonalbo.
The Brown family are used to being on the road travelling to dog trials. Alyssa, her brother Nathan and their father Phil competed in the NSW Working Stock Dog Association State Championship trials at Bonalbo.
Alyssa was the youngest dog handler in the championships.
Her mother Trish Brown said it was the first time Alyssa had been in the ring on her own.
In the first round she scored 64 out of 100.
Despite her youth, that put her into the open final. She and Maggie had five minutes to show what they could do. Five minutes to herd three cows through the ring and into a pen.
“It’s a bit scary sometimes,” Alyssa said.
In the final round Alyssa and Maggie only scored 32 because Maggie was “a bit cranky” and got too close to a cow that wouldn’t go where it was supposed to.
Alyssa shrugs as she pats Maggie’s head.
“She doesn’t really care if she wins or not,” Trish said.
“We praise her for giving it a go.”
When Alyssa was little, she really wanted her own dog to train.
“I was begging my dad when I was two,” she said.
When she was four years old, she started working with Maggie.
They train every day.
There are 14 dogs at the Woolbrook farm.
Maggie though is Alyssa’s favourite.
Nathan and his dog Buckol Megan scooped three awards at Bonalbo.
Nathan and Megan won Maiden/Novice Dog of the Year, Open Dog of the Year, and Dog of the Year.
The only award Nathan missed out on was Handler of the Year. That went to Stokers Siding trialler Dick Chapman.
Later in the day Alyssa sees a boy learning to ride a bike. He wobbles and Alyssa calls out to him – “Good job!”
Results of the final in the Novice Trial:
1st: Wayne Wayte, Backmede Gracie
2nd: Dick Chapman, Ash
3rd: Athol Essery, Lakouney Krystal
4th: Phillip Brown, Nil Rain Music
5th: Ethan Davis, Trudy
Equal 6th: Wayne Wayte, Bring ‘Em CC and Andrew Clode, Dodge
The winner of the Open Dog Trail and the NSW State Champion was Athol Essery with Cherry Gully Min.