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The Stockmen with a passion for dogs

The word stockmen, woven into Australian history since the arrival of the first fleet and made prominent by renowned Australian bush poet Banjo Paterson in his poems “The Man from Snowy River” and “The Stockmen of Australia”, is as much a part of the bush as the flies and kangaroos.

Paterson tells tales of hard working, rowdy blokes with feats of horsemanship and cracking whips that conjure up a man on a horse in a swirl of dust amidst a mob of sheep or cattle with a cuss or two thrown in for good measure.

Gary White
of Nyngan (NSW), has been a contract Stockman for nigh on thirty years and his passion for his work has seen him travel all over the countryside.

While his love was mostly horses in his younger days, a fall with severe injuries altered his path and led him to what has become not just a life’s work but a fulltime job – breeding and training working dogs, namely Kelpies and teaching Working Dog School across the country and overseas.

“My father always had good working dogs. He started his own Stud (White’s Kelpie Stud) in the 50’s in his job as overseer on Canonbar Station, east of Nyngan NSW. 

He had to have dogs that were all round and could do every job that was required of them on any given day. These dogs had to be tough and wiry and be able to withstand the elements of outback NSW, which were hot, dusty and on some days unforgiving” Gary said.

Following in his father’s footsteps and with guidance from close family friend and Australia’s undisputed leading Working Dog trainer, Greg Prince, Gary forged his way forward by attending trials and developing his knowledge of the Kelpie breed. 

With five National titles, an Australasian Title and 16 State Championships under his belt - just to name a few - he has gone a long way to placing his stamp on the trialling and breeding world with his breed being represented in winning circles all across Australia and overseas.

Although to this day, there remains some conjecture on the origin of the Kelpie, it is documented that three pairs of working Collies were imported into Australia by landholders and one of the consequent pups was named “Kelpie” by her owner Mr. J.D Gleeson. Mr. Gleeson or “Jack” then mated her with a black imported Collie from Scotland called Moss. This litter was said to be highly successful and a great line of dogs evolved.

A subsequent mating with Kelpie to Caesar a dog owned by Messrs. Elliot and Allen, also named 
Kelpie, was given to Mr. C.T.W King and following on an outstanding performance at the first Sheep dog trial conducted in Forbes NSW by ‘Kings Kelpie’, the breed was established.

In 1999 Gary was invited to the USA to conduct clinics to instruct working dog enthusiasts. Since that time, he has travelled to the USA six times and has also conducted Clinics in Finland and Germany. He was set to travel to Switzerland, France and UK in 2020 before Covid-19 hit.

“I really enjoy teaching Schools and Clinics” Gary says “It is amazing to see the switch turn on when people understand the basics and what they can actually achieve with their dogs with the right training. 
“You are not simply training the person but the dog and the stock also. It all goes hand in hand”, he said.
“I am lucky that I grew up on the land and learned first hand the skills needed to handle stock and to handle stock with dogs. A lot of people on the land are not sure how to properly use their dogs and don’t understand that with correct training for both dog and handler life on the farm could be so much easier.”
“Dogs are bred to work, they live for it, if they are treated with respect, they will work their heart out for you and in return they ask for very little but food, love and a pat. I couldn’t ask for a better helper”, he said.
Not letting a pandemic stand in the way, Gary took to Zoom lessons as a way to continue teaching and this allowed handlers the opportunity to continue their training education online while in lockdown. Handlers from all over Australia and overseas took to their screens as a way of continuing education and this was widely received with enquiries from all over the world.

Sponsored by Purina Bonnie, Gary has become a go to person and expert in regards everything "working dog" and fields calls from all over seeking advice, pups or just a yarn about what to do to fix a problem.

Currently Gary is working on a program entitled “Let’s Talk”. A Red Cross initiative catering to those who have suffered in drought and fires and focusing on promoting mental health

The program brings working dog enthusiasts together for a day of training and allows them time off the farm to regroup while learning skills to help them in day-to-day stock work.

Gary’s Dad John (88) handed the running of the stud to Gary and his wife Angie, over 10 years ago and they are exporting both semen and dogs overseas in the hope of promoting the breed and its outstanding work ethic for landholders and dog owners throughout the world.

“I have worked with a few breeds of working dogs, but the Kelpie will always be my first choice. They are gutsy, honest and true and everything a Stockman needs to get the job done. I can rely on them and they can rely on me: we make a pretty good team”.

written by Angela Hotham, August 2021 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved)

If you'd like to attend one of Gary White Working Dog School sessions, please follow White's Kelpie Stud for updates via Facebook and Instagram @whiteskelpiestud 


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