When a horse walked into the Outram Hotel bar yesterday, the barman didn't ask, "Why the long face?"

In fact, New Zealand Dog Trial Association president Graham White had a hard time wiping the smile off his own face when he saw the horse put in a brief appearance, during a town-and-country-themed event at the hotel.

Tuff the huntaway, whose bark was best. Photo / Peter McIntosh
Tuff the huntaway, whose bark was best. Photo / Peter McIntosh

"That's what the day was about, a good relaxed afternoon - and the town people, they couldn't believe their eyes," White said.

The Taieri Collie Club and the Outram Rodeo Club were among the supporters of yesterday's 2pm event, which included sheep shearing and horse riding demonstrations in a courtyard at the hotel and a dog barking contest.

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When it comes to dog trialling, White, 65, has definitely put in his time, having taken part in events for 40 years, and been a member of the Taieri Collie Club for that time, and now former president, life member and current treasurer of the club.

Yesterday, his 3-year-old huntaway dog, Tuff, turned on a top performance to win the barking event, and a $50 voucher.

White promptly gave his winning voucher to be raffled for the Child Cancer Foundation, which received the $476 raised at the event.

And what's the key to winning a dog barking contest, apart from having a shatteringly loud bark?

"The dog's got to be fairly relaxed around people, as there are people around and everyone is patting them."

The event had helped raise awareness among townies of rural life, and was a great way for everyone, whether from town or country, to let their hair down, forget their worries for a while and simply enjoy themselves, White said.

"You can't take things too seriously all of the time."