Cobber Stories

Last-minute switch

26 June 2018

Rosalea Ryan

Sabotage? Dirty tactics? Or just a good old-fashioned canine love story with an unexpected twist? Border Collie Lilly was lined up to compete in last year’s Cobber Challenge and was rearing to go – until pregnancy intervened.

With her ‘baby bump’ expanding day by day, Lilly – a celebrity in her own right known for posing high in the saddle on horse Destiny in a photo ‘liked’ more than 8000 times – was sidelined to spend a few relaxing weeks with her paws up as she awaited the much-anticipated birth. But in a twist worthy of any daytime-TV soap opera, Lilly’s place in the competition was taken at the 11th hour by none other than the father of her impending delivery, kennel mate Riley.

Yes, good old Riley – ever the opportunist – leaped forward to seize the 15 minutes of national fame forfeited reluctantly by his expectant ‘wife’. And make the most of it he did: competing in Lilly’s place, Riley did the family proud, finishing in second place overall in a field of 12 dogs behind Tasmanian Kelpie Flow.

Happily, soon after the 2017 Cobber Challenge wrapped up in late September, Lilly and Riley welcomed their brood of seven healthy pups.

Proud human ‘grandmother’ Bec Sneath, a sixth-generation beef and dairy farmer at Kyogle in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, says that even before his own offspring’s arrival Riley was already well accustomed to dealing with littlies, having become a constant companion to the youngest of her three children, an adventurous and ever-active four-year-old, Ollie.

Working cattle is definitely in the puppies’ blood; fearless Riley fronted up to a fully grown cow at only eight weeks of age. However, it hasn’t been all work, work, work of late for the doggy dad, who’s content to while away his downtime sitting in the cabin of the tractor or up on a horse with Bec, or simply reclining at the back door.

Bec, on the other hand, has remained busy since the 2017 Cobber Challenge ended, balancing managing the farm and parenthood with running a photographic business, Rural Love Photography, training Quarterhorses and campdrafting.

With impressive pedigrees as the progeny of proven working parents Riverside Lilly and Riverside Riley (to use the pair’s full registered names) and grandparents Riverside Jake, Gibberagee Booka, Carbeen Winks and Hylite Rush, the puppies are now well and truly carving out promising careers of their own.

Perhaps one or more from Lilly and Riley’s 2017 litter will make their own mark on the Cobber Challenge in years to come.

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