Thursday, May 25, 2017

Barn Hunt Blues

I’ve mentioned Barn Hunt several times. (And lucky you, I will mention it many more!) Unfortunately, there isn’t a place to train in Jacksonville. We’ve taken a couple workshops at Dare2Train in Deland (about 90 minutes away) and then trial with our fingers crossed. Because of work and other commitments, We only get to compete every other month – with varying results. Here's our journey so far:

On New Year’s Eve we took an Intro Workshop and had so much fun that I signed up for a Tunnel and Climb Workshop and a day of trials two weeks later. Jedi got a leg toward his Novice title. I was thrilled.

In March I signed Jedi up for two days of trials (4 runs total) hoping he could pick up the last two legs. Jedi kicked ass! On Saturday he found the rats right away, climbed like a mountain goat and tunneled with no hesitation. We earned two legs, two first place ribbons, his Novice title (RATN) and High in Trial for the fastest time!

I had paid for the second day, just in case we blew a run or two. So I said WTH and moved up to the next level. Open is more challenging. It has two rats and an L–shaped tunnel (versus the one rat and straight tunnel of Novice). Jedi found a rat and climbed right away. The darker tunnel didn’t slow him down either. He ran through and jumped on me in excitement. I told him to “Find the rat” and he ran through the tunnel a second time! Everybody laughed at his enthusiasm. I told him again, “Find the rat” and he gave me the German shepherd head tilt. He was confused. We had never trained with two rats before. I told him “There’s another rat. Find the rat.” He tilted his head again and I started directing him to hay bales. He figured it out and found the second rat with less than 4 seconds to spare. I was shocked! The second trial was not as productive. He was distracted by a loose dog outside the ring and couldn’t have cared less about the rats. That left us needing 2 more legs for his Open (RATO) title.

Dare2Train doesn’t hold trials during the warmer months. They had their final trial the same weekend as my German Shepherd Dog Club’s dog shows so we missed it. I was worried that Jedi would lose momentum and we’d have to retrain him in October. Then I found G2 Barn Hunt, another venue that does Barn Hunt in Morriston. I told Hubby that we'd attempt to finish Open and then wait until fall to attempt the next level (Senior has 4 rats and 2-3 turns in the tunnel.) Morriston is 2 1/2 hours away and on the opposite side of Ocala. We had to stay in a hotel for this trip, adding to the cost. I signed Jedi up for Friday and Saturday on Mothers Day weekend, for a total of 4 runs.

We only needed two legs again, but I wanted some wiggle room in case we blew a run or two. Handler error is always a possibility and I didn't want to blow it for us. We left the hotel Friday morning with an estimated 45 minutes of wiggle room. However, we soon discovered that Morriston is in the middle of nowhere. We lost cell service (including GPS) and then we were just lost. I freaked out, especially when I discovered that gas stations don't sell maps anymore. Hubby was able to channel his inner Daniel Boone and we arrived just in time. We ran twice and Jedi found ZERO rats. He climbed and tunneled, but didn’t even look for a rat. I assumed he was picking up on my stress (I hate being late) and was thrown off by the change of venue. We tried to remember landmarks on the way out and went back to the hotel. Unfortunately, the next day wasn’t any better. It was raining like crazy. Jedi climbed, refused to tunnel and found one rat. It was an expensive, no-good weekend. (But still better than working!)
It's official! And I'm hooked.
So now we have some decisions to make. G2 runs monthly trials all summer. (It’s a nice, well shaded venue.) Do we want to continue to try for Open? Or do we wait until Dare2Train reopens on the Fall? And realistically, will we have time in the Fall to Barn Hunt? We've already committed to nosework trials. And the Tuesday Training Crew would like to enter K-9 Obedience Club’s October rally trial as a group. There is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do with my dog. Unless I can win the lottery and dump this 40 hr/week job and hire someone to handle the domestic stuff, I have to prioritize my efforts. Other things get left behind. It sucks. I’ll let you know what happens. TTFN, --K