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The Way We Were - Steve Weyman

Australian Working Stock Dog Magazine - Issue 14, December 2020 (Article & Photos by Lauren Vest)

There are a few dogs of yesteryear, that have had incredible influence on the Kelpie breed through to this day – One of these was the great Barambogie Mack (Liscannor Marco X Liscannor Kay). Every great dog had to be paired with the right handler to get the most out of them and in Mack’s case, it was Steve Weyman. Steve has been involved with working dogs and dog trialling for a long time, being involved in the beginnings of both Yard trials and Utility/Field trials.  

Steve was working as a carpenter in the early seventies, when he got sick of it he decided having always wanted to work on the land, that this was his time. He had always been into horses, being involved with polocrosse, racehorses and rodeo, however he had little experience with working dogs. He headed out to Mudgee and started work on a place. At this point they were only just starting to use double decker stock crates to cart stock - They were sending one of the first loads of cattle, when the truck turned over on a hairpin bend. The steers that fell off the truck went into private property – which it turned out this was owned by George Cover. The Covers are a well known working dog and trialling family. George being the brother of Ronnie Cover, who is in turn the father of Charlie Cover, who still competes in three sheep trials today; this was the start of a great friendship, with Steve spending a lot of time with George on weekends learning about working dogs. George had all Border Collies and liked to three sheep trials – Steve remembers the dogs in three sheep back then being really good, practical sheepdogs.  

At Mudgee Steve had 300-400 cows in an AI program which meant a ton of cattle work for his dogs. He moved out to Walcha, then back to a horse stud at Mudgee and finally settled for around 10 years at Reids Flat. He started there with 4,000 acres and 4,000 wethers and by the time he left he had built it up to 17,000 acres and 30,000 wethers as well as 2,000 first cross ewes and 200 cows. It was big, rough country – great for making good working dogs. Lots of work out of sight, long casts, difficult stock and testing situations. He had a few Huntaways, before too many people had them and said they were extremely effective in that country. He could send a Huntaway out and it would stand and bark – sheep would come out from all the nooks and crannies, under rocks and behind trees. Ask a Kelpie to do the same thing and it would have no effect.  

Steve did a lot of travelling to dog trials while he was at Reids Flat. He can remember driving to Tubbo Station in the Western Riverina to trial on the Friday/Saturday/Sunday, then onto Hamilton in Victoria for Sheepvention on the Monday/Tuesday, then driving back home to Reids Flat to get back to work. He has trialled in every state of Australia except the Northern Territory. When he started trialling there were only three sheep trials - He was one of the organisers of the first Utility trial in Boorowa, as well as secretary of the first Yard Dog Association committee and he was instrumental in gaining them incorporation.  

After leaving Reids Flat, Steve went on to buy a place of his own and tidy it up, to then re-sell. He worked for the abattoirs at Cowra for a while and then bought a motorbike shop which he ran for around 10 years, that meant taking a break from working dogs. Once he sold the business, he started getting back into dogs again.  

Having had many good dogs throughout his life, he remembers a few as notable, though Barambogie Mack takes the top spot. Boree Troy (a Border Collie), Chobi Mindy (Barambogie Mack/Darrabee Rusty) and Capree Shep (Avenpart Zondo/Glenlogie Lucky) are all dogs he remembers as being above average.  

Mack was a very strong dog – great walk up strength which was also paired with covering ability, which usually don’t go together. He was a funny dog who didn’t like being offended. Steve remembers mustering a big hill paddock at Reids Flat which had three big ridges – he would ride down the centre ridge on a horse with a dog working each ridge beside him. He got to the bottom and there was no Mack – thinking he may have headed home he headed there to check – but still no Mack. The next morning when he still hadn’t shown up, he was really starting to worry. He went back and checked the paddock they had been mustering yesterday and there was Mack – holding a mob of about 20 sheep he had found and held there all night. In the eighties at the Kelpie Field Trial or the Australian Yard trial, three quarters of the final would be related to Mack. He proved one of the most influential Kelpie sires of his time.  

Jerlauen Alice was a dog Steve will never forget. She was by an Alphadale dog out of Kirribilli Lucky’s sister, and she was mad! Mat Willis bred and broke her in. He ran her in a yard trial at Wagga and he was flat out, opening the gates quick enough for her. He walked out of the ring and handed her straight to Steve as he exited! He took her home and put her on about five sheep straight away, to see what she would do. Well, they came down the paddock at a rate of knots, with Alice backing and barking them as they ran – Believe it or not! 

When it comes to breeding, Steve believes in breeding like to like. You can’t cross a paddock dog with a yard dog and expect all rounder or utility types. Dogs today have gotten better, but the gene pool is very scattered – lots of people breeding, without too much thought of bloodlines and work abilities. In his opinion, the real good dogs are around one in thirty – and you really need to start them from a pup – no one is going to sell a brilliant older dog, though there are exceptions. One of these was Glenlogie Lucky (Barambogie Mack X Kirribilli Lucky) – Steve had her and couldn’t get along with her, she was very sticky eyed. He sold her to Chris Stapleton who went on to win everything with her and she bred on really well.  

His ideal type of dog is one that is a bit softer to handle, that goes around it’s sheep cleanly and balances up nicely. He looks for a dog that suits him when it is just working naturally – then he just puts commands on to suit the work. They are not easy to find though! He likes to leave a lot of dog still in them – if they encounter difficult sheep you can’t command them fast enough to cover, they must have it themselves. Capree Mindy III (Trueblue Josh III X Capree Sophie V) who he has currently, is as good a bitch as he’s had in a long time. Nowadays he has 400 ewes and 160 cows on a block to give himself and the dogs something to do.  

He has gone off trialling a bit – in his own words he has gotten old and cranky! He thinks judging is getting too technical and finicky about little things. Judging whether the dog responds to commands, whether you do the gate latches up in the right order, etc. In saying that, he really enjoys watching trials like the USD (Ultimate Stock Dog) and the AUSDS (Australian Utility Stock Dog) where dogs are tested on sheep in the yard and paddock as well as cattle. Any dog that can excel at these is going to be pretty handy. It’s a real balancing act, to get one that is strong enough to work cattle, then have feel on three sheep and not too much bite in the yards.  

Steve is a man with a wealth of knowledge and history that he is more than happy to share with those interested. He’s someone who has put in the hard yards in tough country with good dogs and has the runs on the board, having won three National Kelpie Field Trials and two Australian Yard Championships. Steve is happy to run schools for those who want to learn and can travel to you within reason, preferring one on one, up to one on three so that you get plenty of attention. We are all lucky to have people like Steve willing to pass their knowledge and experience on and it only bodes well for the future of working dog handling and breeding in Australia! 

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