SWEDEN September 2018 ........... I was invited to go to Sweden again in 2018, my fifth visit to work with gundogs in this truly magnificent country with its vast lakes, forests and granite boulders and ideal gundog training opportunities.
It was decided to run a training course for all ages and breeds within the retriever, spaniel and HPR groups and that the course would culminate in offering the participants the opportunity to be assessed for the UK Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate.
The course was organised by Jennifer Hofsö, ably assisted by her husband Harald, and their attention to all the detail associated with organising such and event was very impressive and I thank them for their hospitality and friendship as well as a huge thank you to all the participants for making the weekend a memorable experience.
There were 9 participants on the training course which was held at a purpose-built training facility, Björkåsen, Nyekvarn, Moheda, owned by Birgitta Staflund-Wiburg and her husband Janne Wiburg. The training ground was wonderful for our purpose and, in addition, a converted barn on the site offered spacious and comfortable accommodation for everyone and included a kitchen for self-catering which enabled everyone to have breakfast and lunch together.
The first two days were used to look at all the basic training requirements for a working gundog and any problems were dealt with as we progressed from puppy exercises through to requirements for a dog and handler to work on shoots/go hunting and to take part in gundog competitions. All the dogs were from the retriever sub-group (Chesapeake, Golden and Labrador retrievers).
Sunday morning was spent looking at specific exercises used to assess the Working Gundog Certificate (WGC) and discussion as well as some training enabled participants to decide whether they wished to take part. There were some very young puppies attending who had clearly benefitted from the training but were not quite ready for the self-control needed to be assessed for the WGC. In the afternoon we therefore had 4 handlers and 5 dogs to assess
Jennifer and Harald ...
the brilliant course organisers!
I am a qualified assessor for the WGC and my co-assessor was Jennifer Hofsö, acting in this capacity for the first time, but who did an excellent job and understood the assessor role completely following discussion regarding the aim.
Some photos of the training and the WGC
For many people, used to gundog competitions, assessing can be a difficult concept if thinking of winners and faults to reduce the number of competitors to a final three or four. Competitions are, by their nature, designed to find a winner but, uniquely, the WGC is looking at the abilities of a dog and handler in terms of their joint ability to be an asset on a shoot. In an assessment for a WGC everyone taking part can be a winner and, provided they show ability in all exercises, then a WGC will be awarded.
Following the assessment I and my co-assessor were delighted to tell the participants that 4 handlers and 5 dogs were successful and in due course their certificates would be sent to them from the UK Kennel Club.
This was the first opportunity for handlers and dogs in Sweden to obtain this award. Hopefully more will follow, but handlers need to ensure that they have applied for, and obtained, an Authority To Compete (ATC) number from the UK Kennel Club if wishing to take part in any future opportunities to participate in a WGC.
This was the third annual day for handlers to learn to work teams of two or more dogs - one experienced handler worked four dogs!
It is a very popular occasion and an extremely rare, maybe unique, event enabling handlers to learn about working a team of working gundogs.
George & Lottie - who, together with their handler, were the best team of the day!
By, In & Over the
May 28th 2018
As usual in our training groups and 'special' events, spaniels, retrievers and HPR's were all welcome at this day of training which took place beside, in and over the River Severn! Some had never experienced water before and others were 'old hands', but all ages and abilities (and perhps more importantly degrees of steadiness) were catered for!!
A great day was had by all!
RETURN TO ITALY
In February 2018 I returned to Italy, my third visit, to take a one-day training course (a follow-up to the one I took in November 2017 (see below) and on the following day to judge 4 Working Tests with Jason Mayhew, Billy Lundy & Bruno Julien.
It was lovely to catch up with many old friends and to make new ones!
A First for .......
I was invited to go to Italy at the beginning of November
2017, to run a training course as a follow-up to the weekend course I ran in
June. Having obtained permission from the Kennel Club I suggested that, if
there were sufficient interested participants, it may be useful and exciting to
run a WGC event as the culmination of the course. The training and WGC were
part of a 4 day event which included 2 novice Field Trials, 2 open FT’s and 1
international FT, so I was delighted to accept the invitation.
My co-assessor was Mirko Galli who, together with his wife
Stefania Re, had organised the 4 day event. Mirko shoots, has done some
picking-up and also Trials at International and National levels as well as
being a member of Italian teams who have come to the UK for a variety of
International team events.
On November 3 we ran the WGC on dummies and
assessed a total of 17 dogs and handlers from the retriever sub-group: 1
Chesapeake, 3 Flat-coated, 7 Goldens and 6 Labradors. In addition there were approximately
the same number of people watching, all of whom had thought their dogs were
probably ‘not good enough’ but all of whom, judging from discussion afterwards
were reassured by what they saw, what I said we were looking for and were
pestering the organisers to ‘do it again’!
The overall standard of the dogs and the way they were
handled was extremely high. I have assessed at many WGC days in the UK and I
think the standard I witnessed on November 3rd was the highest I
have ever seen at a similar event. I was delighted, therefore, that 16 of the
17 participants were able to be awarded the certificate and the one ‘not ready’
was so nearly ready she will make sure, following the conversation she had with
me afterwards, that the small areas of necessary training will be attended to
and she can’t wait for the next WGC day!
The concept of the WGC was difficult for the Italians to
comprehend. Language was obviously a large part of the difficulty but my co-assessor
also had problems in understanding the difference between assessing and judging.
He couldn’t understand at first that we were not giving points or A, B etc. however,
after discussion the previous day he was able to comprehend and adopt the role
of an assessor. He said that not only was the event less pressured for participants
but he too felt much more relaxed. He enjoyed watching the dogs work and being
able to communicate with handlers thus helping to reduce tension and keep a
Some comments by participants:
“Thank you Anthea, it has been a great experience not only about
training but also about approaching the world of gundogs and respect for the
“Thank you to have been here to show us a
different way to see gundogs”.
“No competition, no anxiety, just a new way to
enjoy our dogs”.
“We had a lot of fun
and a lot of things to learn to enjoy with our dogs working”.
Sometimes I feel we, in the UK, forget how lucky we are! We
have so many places we can go to do some training with our dogs either on our
own, in the company of a few friends or going to a variety of training classes
at different levels. In Italy, training has to be done largely by people on
their own, if they can find areas suitable. Very few people have access to hunting
groups for whom they could do some picking up. The type of training available
in Italy is either pet obedience/companion dog training, which is good but not
particularly helpful to gundogs, or there is gundog training with professionals
who mainly deal with FT training. There is little in between and consequently
many people are left believing ‘it is FT’s or nothing’. For the vast majority,
sadly, it’s ‘nothing’. It could be argued that gaining a WGC is of little value,
however, what a privilege it was for me to see the delight so obviously felt by
handlers who, for the first time, gained official recognition of the high
standard of working partnership achieved by them and their gundogs. Not only
were the lanyards put on immediately after presentation but many handlers
stayed to watch the FT’s, held the following few days and brandished their
lanyards every time they saw me!
I thoroughly enjoyed working with this appreciative group and
thank everyone concerned for inviting me. Plans are already underway for the
event to be organised next year too and, from what I hear, it would appear that
perhaps a WGC day on game as well as a day on dummies will be the aim.
Some more photos of the day .... thank you Valeria!
KCAI (Working gundogs Advanced)
This will be the first time the WGC has been available in Italy!
I'm looking forward to meeting old friends, as well as meeting some new ones at this event which will be part of a four day working gundog event.
3 days will be spent spectating whilst 3 FT's take place for Novice, Open national trials and an international FT also. I look forward to seeing the trials as well as assessing the WGC.
More to follow after the events!
I recently assessed a WGC ( The Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate) for the Gundog Club of North Wales.
Below is a link to the photographs of the day which, unlike many other weekends this summer, was lovely and warm and sunny.
My thanks to the club for inviting me and also to all the participants for bringing your lovely dogs for me to see. Well done everyone!
Classes will continue fortnightly on Sundays until Christmas.
Puppy group and Beginners start 10.00 am.
'Baby' puppies start 12.00
Novice/Open start 1.30 .. until we finish!
One-to-one sessions by appointment
PAST EVENT ... look out for a repeat next year!
May 22nd 2014
Rytex Rhys has come to join the Courtridge pack! Rhys is a working-bred English Springer spaniel. He will have his own page in weeks to come to show his training and development. For the time being this is he!