CLIFTON sheepdog trialler Brendan Bange has high hopes for his chances at the upcoming Karara Sheepdog Trials this weekend.
He has never won an open trial with his most successful dog, Lygajo Jodie, and is hopeful Karara might be their time in the sun.
"I bought Jodie as a pup from Charleville, and I have won novice and encouragement trials with her, but not an open as yet," Brendan said.
"We just can't crack it, and I don't know if it's the dog's fault or mine," he said.
The qualified plumber has been trialling his border collies for the past 10 years, and speaks highly of the Karara event.
"It's probably the best trial on the calendar," he said.
"In my opinion, it's the fairest trial with the fairest sheep, which are worked properly and are mustered properly, from one of the well-known sheep families in the district such as the Cullens, the Fearbys or the Smiths."
Brendan said he hoped to compete with five of his dogs at Karara - two in the novice and three in the open.
Having operated his border collie stud, Brenkris, with his wife Krissy and their three daughters, Ellie, Madison and Olivia, since 2004, Brendan and his family have forged many strong friendships and created happy memories on the sheepdog circuit since then.
"Ellie is the only one of my kids who took up the sport and she won a few trials when she was younger," Brendan said.
"We went on a big western trip last year, competing at Roma, Barcaldine, Longreach, Charleville and Cunnamulla, and we met some great people."
His love of the family sport began when well-known trialler Alan Thornton gave Brendan his first pup.
"I met Alan in the pub and our friendship just grew from there," he said.
"He gave me my first pup and was my trainer to start with, and then after that I got the bug."
Brendan now trains his dogs a couple of times each week, both at home on his 28 hectare property, Coolibah, east of Clifton, and in town at
"I like a natural dog, so I don't have to do too much training," he said.
Brendan is no stranger to success when it comes to sheepdog trialling.
He won last year's novice title at the Australian Supreme Sheepdog Championships held in Warwick in September.
"I won that title with one of the dogs I've bred, called Brenkris Gail," Brendan said.
"I've won open trials at Longreach, Jimboomba and Warwick in the past, but it's not the same as winning an open at that level, however winning the novice was pretty exciting," he said.
His dream is to start a pup, which he has bred, train it and take it through to win a trial.
"That would be a dream come true, along with making a Queensland side," Brendan said.
"I was in a run-off for the Queensland team about eight years ago."
Brendan said the top six dogs and triallers in Queensland would run-off in Karara mid next year, to select the top two to contest the Australian Championships, which will be held in Port Fairy, South Australia.
Brendan has recently purchased a kelpie, but believes border collies are the breed for him.
"You just have to find the dog that suits you and one that works as part of a team," he said.
"I've had a couple of kelpies in the past, but we just don't get along.
"I find them harder to form a partnership with.
"Border collies just suit me better and are more adaptable to what I'm doing."
Brendan is a member of the Queensland Sheep Dog Workers' Association and has held a position on the committee of the state organisation in the past.
He continues to be an active member of the Clifton branch and helps to conduct the annual sheepdog trials, which are held as part of the Clifton Show.
He has bred about seven litters, and his top dog, Jodie, is in pup to last year's Australian Supreme Sheepdog, Dusty, owned by Greg Prince, from Dubbo.
"He's the best dog in Australia in my opinion," Brendan said.
Brendan is a firm believer that you have to have a good team in order to compete at the top level of any sport, and sheepdog trialling is no different.
"It's hard to get a good team of dogs going, and until you do it's not worth competing at the national events," he said.
"Patience and good temperament are also a must.
"You can't get mad out there - you have to keep your cool."