We went to St. Helens, OR, for 4 Barn Hunt trials. I came home with a new title and a tired dog.
I went down the night before after arranging a private lesson with the trial host to work through any issue Gimme might have after her injury in the tunnel at the last trial. It was a very good thing I did. My fee ended up being a "ring fee" more than a "private lesson", which was fine since I didn't really need any help. It was a good thing I decided to do this, since Gimme started out unwilling to pass under a single bale of straw across two bales! By the time we finished, she was happily doing a very tight tunnel with 6 turns. She will never have more than three turns in Barn Hunt and will always have at least 18 inches, which is ample for her.
After this session, Gimme was fine with tunnels all weekend. Saturday afternoon she started in, then stopped and looked to make sure I was watching before continuing. I guess she wanted to be sure I was ready to show my appreciation for her efforts. I gave her loud and ample praise for every tunnel throughout the weekend.
Our first run was Saturday morning. Gimme did a great job, finishing in 1:45. She got First Place and I later learned she earned High in Trial Senior. Yeah Gimme.
Our second run was in the afternoon. Gimme finished in 2:40, for another First Place and her Senior (RATS) title. I filled out the form to move up to Master for Sunday.
Neither of our Master runs on Sunday was successful. In Masters, you will have between 1 and 5 rats (determined by secret random draw) and have 4:30 to find them all, do a tunnel and climb and then call your finish or clear. The ring is bigger, as are the piles of straw bales. Of course the big challenge is to know when your dog has finished searching.
For our morning run, it turned out we had three rats. Gimme found the first one very quickly and then a bit later found another. She didn't seem to be having any luck finding any more, though she never quit looking. I am completely clueless on how much time I have left, so I called finish and learned there was one more. The judge showed me where it was, so I could let Gimme find it and tease her with it a bit. It was in a spot near the entrance, 2 bales high and Gimme really needed to work hard to get to it. I remember she sniffed up there once soon after we entered the ring and then moved on. I mentally dismissed it and never took her back to the area. My mistake.
In the afternoon, we had two rats. Unfortunately someone with two dogs followed right behind us as we came in the building to enter the ring. I really should have told her to back off, since she was clearly violating the twenty foot rule, but I was focused on getting in the ring. Gimme was focused on her dogs. After I released her I repeatedly had to encourage Gimme to return to searching as she would see movements outside the ring and go to ringside to check them out. We found the first rat, but it took what seemed like a very long time with having to redirect her. Since we didn't find any more for awhile, I called finish and learned there was one more. It was in a spot where she had been sniffing and then saw movement outside the ring (people), so she left it see if it was those dogs.
There is a strong chance we could have Q'd this time, but for the careless attitude of another exhibitor. I confess I really resent losing the Q, though of course, there is no guarantee we would have gotten it. Maybe I'm spoiled by how careful everyone is at a nosework trial, still I find too many people at barn hunt are either clueless or inconsiderate or both. It is annoying to have the same challenges in the sport as everyone else, plus an additional challenge -- avoiding or mitigating the stupidity of others.
Of course, at the end of the day, I still get to go home with the best dog there. And just so you know... this was Gimme's 6th title this year. Yeah for the Hottie Spottie...