The day began with sunshine with a little bit of cloud and was relatively warm and I was hoping for a couple of quick runs so that Ferns lack of fitness wouldn’t impact her performance too much. After a short, but uphill, walk to where we were to start the trial the first dogs were called into line. The trial was to be run under 4 judges, Malcom Taylor and Steve Charlton as the panel judges, and Mick Huitson and Jim O Connor and the non panel.
There were some early flushes and the even numbered dogs seemed to be putting themselves out, mainly by missing game, the rabbits were sitting incredibly tight. Maybe they knew about the impending rain before we did. I’d conveniently given my waterproof jacket to my mate who was carrying the game back on the other side of the line!!
I think by the time I was backing up at number 11, there were only around 7 dogs left in the trial. I was soon called into line and had a beat of thick sieves along side a dry stone wall to work. I cast Fern off and she was flying, head down tail going. She soon flushed her first rabbit which didn’t present a shot because of the thick sieves. We carried on and she started pulling me a bit, so I had to use the whistle a bit more than I would’ve liked to make sure she didn’t miss anything.
Soon after that she went nose first into a patch of sieves and sat up, and out popped another rabbit, again not giving the guns an opportunity of a shot. We carried on and another rabbit got up but doubled back and didn’t present a shot. Gutted!
We reached the end of the beat and Jim told me to call her into heel, we were going to walk back and do the beat alongside where we had just been. I cast her off and it was noticeable that she’d started bouncing through the thick stuff, she was tiring. Then I heard a splash as she fell into what I thought was a bog/gutter and was expecting her to pop back out covered in mud. Instead all I heard was whining and splashing. Me and Jim ran over to see her stuck in a deep hole full of water and she couldn’t get out. I reached down and pulled her out and sat her up, half expecting to be told to put my lead on as she’d whined. As Jim never said anything I cast her off, and she whined. Gutted!! Whether she was still stressed or worked up from falling in the hole I don’t know.
I spoke to Jim and Malcom after the trial who said she’d been going really well. Malcom had me on an A run until she’d started tiring and bounced through the thick stuff which made it even harder to take.
The trial continued, with dogs still going out for missing game until finally there were four dogs left and the last dog completed it’s run and the trial was declared over.
The results were:
1st Hawksbeck Belle - Mr John Park
2nd Nicolas Golden Honey - Mr D Nichols
3rd Pinsarks Tacey - Mr Andy kirk
C.o.M Northglen Gem - Mr Paul Stirzaker