With some of women's greatest shearing achievements behind her Emily Welch is looking for even better after winning a new women's event at the 59th Golden Shears in Masterton today.
The 39-year-old was the instigator of the event, which pitted six of the best-performing women in Golden Shears Open, Senior and Intermediate heats in what Welch hopes is the first step towards eventually establishing a Women's World title.
The next step will be a separate women's event, with heats and a final, at the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti on March 28-30.
Welch has been on the path a while, since 2007 when she was a close-up second placing in the Golden Shears Senior final, the best result achieved by a woman the grade at the achieving the best women's Senior result in the history of the Goldies.
Just nine months later she shore a still-unchallenged women's World record of 648 lambs in nine hours, she runs a shearing contracting business at Waikaretu with husband and fellow-record-breaking shearer Sam Welch, in 2014 she won an invitation women's event at the Golden Shears, and in 2017 she was competing in the Open championship heats as part of the making of the now popular docu-movie She Shears, which followed the paths of five female shearers to the GoldenShears.
Daughter of shearer Phillip Woodward, who will travel the World championships in France to manage the Canadian team, which includes women's event runner-up Pauline Bolay, a longtime employee of the business in the Port Waikato area during her seasons in New Zealand.
Troubled by a significant ear infection, Welch's competition preparation for today's event was limited to one competition, the Franklin A and P Show's Counties Shears she and her husband organise each February, but she's hoping to get more in in the four weeks before the Te Kuiti event.
She hopes to continue getting occasional full and part days shearing in the woolshed, buyt the competition opportunities will still be limited.
She's currently also in training, including a 3km morning run earlier today, for the six-hour Spirited Women orienteering endurance event in Gisborne on March 23.
But she's keen to get the numbers up at Te Kuiti, encouraging the increasing number of female shearers to take to the competition board.
"If we want to have these events we've got to have the people entering," she said.
Third in today's event of six shearers six sheep each was Senior shearer Laura Bradley, of Woodville, one of three university graduates on the board.
Among them was Blenheim's shearing contractor and fulltime shearer Sarah Higgins, who the first person to win Golden Shears titles in both woolhadling and shearing, and who was completing a busy morning, after shearing in the Golden Shears Senior semi-finals and the YFC Blue Ribbon championship.
It was sponsored by Masterton company Abraham shearing, run by successful Open shearer Paerata Abraham and wife Cushla (nee Gordon) and Open-class woolhandler who had a successful lower grades career as a shearer and a woolhandler.
Golden Shears women's final (6 sheep): Emily Welch (Waikaretu) 9min 15.858sec, 35.627pts, 1; Pauline Bolay (Canada) 9min 47.475sec, 37.374pts, 2; Laura Bradley (Woodville) 9min 11.843sec, 41.092pts, 3; Sarah Higgins (Blenheim) 10min 0.141sec, 42.84pts, 4; Jills Angus Burney (Masterton) 9min 33.541sec, 46.677pts, 5; Jackie Paku (Wairoa) 12min 6.187sec, 56.309pts, 6.