“Another action packed week flies by! Annie took a team to Broadlands, Romsey, while I braved the M25 and travelled to Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. The Shooting School is busy and we spend every waking hour working with clients and their dogs.
Because Hatfield Show has all manner of livestock on show, there is a Stockman’s Tent. The Stockman’s Tent is the most fantastic place, every stockman, exhibitor and demonstrator can be found in this den of inequity. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and of course an evening of alcohol fuelled socialising, singing and dancing make this unique meeting place compulsory for any self-respecting dog trainer. Of course, I was only there as a quiet spectator. Yeah, right.
Before the evenings really got going there was plenty of time to sit and chat with my fellow demonstrators. Two sheep farmers, a dairy farmer and I represented a group of ex-livestock farmers who were now using their countryside upbringing and animal knowledge at country shows.
We all spend a lot of our time demonstrating to the public the things that we get up to out here in the shires. Some might argue that this is a perfect example of how the countryside is turning into a great big leisure park, and hopefully there is some truth in this argument. I believe if we can balance leisure with shooting, agriculture and general country life then everyone will benefit.
Our weekly gundog training class has reached its fourth week; week two was difficult for all of the handlers on the course, as I deliberately applied the pressure. We methodically looked at the weak areas in each individual handler, not to belittle or undermine their confidence, but simply for one or two to wake up and smell the coffee. “If we are going to improve our handling skills over the next seven weeks, we need to apply ourselves, accept that we need to improve, stop blaming the dog and everyone else around us and start to think like a professional dog handler,” was the message I delivered to the group. This is teacher speak for get your finger out.
My tactics were a conscious decision, and it could have gone either way. There was a strong possibility that I would be stood on the training field on my own next week. No chance! Congratulations to the Wednesday group: a lively, interactive, forward thinking group of handlers have emerged. The depth of experience and knowledge in this group is awesome. The dog handling skills have leapt forward and I look forward to working with these guys next week.”
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