Barbet News (page 37)
Autumn Barbet Training Camp in West Wales.
The campsite at Lakeside.
On Saturday 10th October, seven Barbet and their families, converged at the 'Wales Gundog Training Ground', in a verdant green and leafy valley, just outside St Clears, Carmarthenshire. We had all travelled for many miles, and were happy to meet our trainer Huw (an active member of the Welsh National Gundog Team), over steaming cups of coffee and bacon rolls. The Autumn sun was shining down so after the introductions and a briefing from Huw, we strolled down to the water meadow, via the lake, where we would commence with our training. We were all at different levels, with the dogs rangeing in age from 3.5 years to just 10 months, some without any gundog training, it was going to be interesting!
Huw kicked off the lesson with basic walking to heel on a lead, the class progressed, and throughout the three hours, we managed to sit and stay, retrieve, and learned the fundamentals of hand signals and the whistle. A break for lunch, lots of questions, and back to the meadows to try some more. Each task that Huw set was thoroughly explained, we were not rushed , and every dog and his trainer, had made significant progress. Huw called upon Fiona with Nenu, to demonstrate the retrieve. Nenu worked meticulously, following the commands of the hand and whistle without fault, and with fantastic discipline and control, especially when having to pass directly in front of all our dogs. At the end of the session, Huw set us homework, practising what we had learned, and he would arrive the next morning for more.
Well, we were all most impressed with our new skills, but probably more impressed with the half oil drums, logs and matches, and the thought of food. So, with two campfires burning, fish and chips, BBQ's and a little alcohol, the dogs all fed and settled, we chit chatted and caught up with events in the Barbet World. We all retired at a reasonable time, to very cosy looking tents and sleeping bags. We woke to the sound of rain on canvas, so donning waterproofs and wellies, the dogs were quickly walked, then we were again treated to coffee and bacon rolls. Afte an hour or so of chatting over coffees, our second day of training commenced.
Wellies, raincoats and happy waterdogs.
We started again with the dogs walking to heel, some without leads, we practised the sit and stay, and again we had a go at the retrieve. Various dummies were used,canvas, fur and feather, large and small, a tennis ball and a squeaky toy, whatever the dog was comfortable with. All the dogs worked brilliantly. Again Fiona's achievements were called upon, and Nenu demonstrated how, after lots of practice, retrieving should be done, quietly and methodically, without being distracted- Nenu really did do us proud. We have all a very long way to go before reaching that level, but the basic skills are already in place. All the instructions were clear and precise, and repeated gently if we didn't quite know what we were supposed to be doing. Huw noticed that treats were being used to keep our dogs attention, and when asked to try without them, it did work. One piece of information that was quite funny, if you think your dog will not do the retrieve, don't throw the dummy so far, because YOU have to walk to get it! Simple methods on how to continue with the training were explained, so we can carry on either in the games we play with them at home, or out on a walk.
Yvonne & Odo with trainer Huw.
Our training in Wales was over, the rain had passed by, and the sun was trying it's best. Huw had his own Gundog group arriving later in the afternoon, and invited us to join in with them. Though everyone would have loved to have stayed, the tents had to be put down and dried, and with a long journey ahead, and everyone finishing on a high note, we all said our farewells. Odo did manage to stay, and using all he had been taught previously, managed to go up a level, work off the lead, and his first attempt at quartering. Towards the end of the session, he was yawning so much, the mental agility had finally taken its toll, and it was time to go.
A quick stop was planned, to visit and thank Fiona for organising the weekend for us. A fifty minute drive up the narrowest of mountain roads, hairpin bends and sheer drops, ears popping with the altitude, we finally arrived at the top of her mountain to a huge doggy welcome from her Newfs and Nenu, and yet another hot mug of tea, and time to reflect on our achievements.
All in all, a wonderful weekend was had by all. We could not have wanted more from a trainer, Huw was patient, kind, funny, and more than generous with his time and tea! We all left feeling we had achieved lots and charged up and ready for more.His training ground was second to none, with an agility course, paddock for off lead excercise, lake and river for water retrieves, and a larger, more open site, for more experienced gundogs. The shop sold a variety of leads and dummies, along with sandwiches and the like. The camping ground has huge pitches, with plenty of BBQ's, picnic benches, parasols(great in the rain), canoes, ducks, and a large well stocked fishing lake. To have achieved this quality of campsite and training ground, just two years after spending his new bathroom money (his wife was not happy) on a piece of overgrown, wooded, scrappy land, shows the level of hard work and commitment Huw has gone to, in order to give us, as dog enthusiasts and campers, the best possible experience.
For further information on FFynongain Gundogs and the training facillities there please visit....
By Yvonne Thomas with photo`s courtesy of Fiona Lucas.