Betley Gundog and Game Fair 2013

This weekend I went along to the Betley Gundog and Game Fair for the Sunday. I left Guinness at home away from the guns and out of the sun and instead picked up my camera.

My friend Katie was doing a Flyball Display with her team, the Carry On’s.

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They put on a fabulous display and showed the different parts to Flyball; the starter dogs, the breed dogs, how to do change-overs and then finished off with an exciting race!

Next up was a Bird of Prey Display from Rosliston Forestry Centre. Using a few volunteers from the crowd, they had a Barn Owl flying between people and then changed the crowd members and did the same with a young kestrel. The information was really good and it was very easy to listen to.

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The best part was the Saker Falcon which flew out low over the crowds and round past the stalls, swooping in to try and grab the bait on the long line and then flying out again.  It stopped for a break and settled into a tree right above Katie’s head. We didn’t think he was going to come out.

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The big star of the day was Andy Cullen MBE, a highly regarded gundog trainer. Andy gave some fantastic advice and information about training dogs and showed off a range of different breeds and their uses.

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He used quite a lot of young dogs and demonstrated the different levels of training exercises. The best moment was seeing his 18 week old Springer Spaniel! Andy talked about puppy training and how important it is to get your foundations right.

He emphasised on the importance of positive reinforcement and made a point about not needing to shout or beat your dog to make them listen, but you also don’t need to be silly smoochy either. Just be yourself and reward your dog.

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Last but not least was Cheshire Canine Services with a protection dog display. This was really entertaining and had a lot of wow moments. Mike Crawford runs the company and led the display, showing us different stages of training a protection dog.

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Again their display consisted of young dogs and it highlighted the use of positive reinforcement in their training, especially play rewards. They did exercises with bite sleeves, an attacker with a weapon, crowd control and chase and detain. The pièce de résistance was a mock terrorist attack and one of the dogs jumped into a caravan to detain an attacker. Amazing!

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Around the fair there were a handful of stalls with the usual tweed gundog trainer clothing, dog toys and accessories. There were also a few have a go stands such as archery, clay and rifles shooting.

Over in the distance in a different ring Terrier and Lurcher judging was taking place as well as ferret racing, although I walked away after watching them swinging the ferrets around like stuffed toys.  The Scurries competition was a trek away down the hill and  Andy Biggar, top Dog Photographer, had his own set up for special offer sessions. I managed to catch him for 5 minutes to say hello! (Very exciting).

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The displays were on twice a day and quickly led on from each other so there was no sitting around waiting. It was a shame that everything was so spread out as it felt quiet around the main arena despite there being quite a lot of people about. The show was also a little sparse on stalls.  However I had a really enjoyable day and there’s plenty of worse things to be doing on a hot, sunny day!  It was lovely to see some friends and get some good photography practise.

There was a good general emphasis on positive reinforcement in all of the displays and I hope some people took note of this (such as the guy I saw pinning his dog down).

A great day out!

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