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Draught and Waterwork tests in Bala, UK 2010 

We had an amazing weekend in Bala, Wales (United Kingdom). We drove Thursday early morning from Southern France to Calais, took the ferry over and drove up to London for the night. Friday early morning we left for Bala. It was very hot in the car, so on the way we bought the girls some ice cream to keep them cool, the girls enjoyed it a LOT :-).

The views on the way were gorgeous!




What really amazed us was that there were sheep everywhere! On the field, on the roads, in the forests.. literally everywhere.



We drove up to the lake before settling in at the camp site a few minutes away.

Tytandderwen Camping Site:


We had borrowed a tent from our friends Les and Jude (the event organizers), so that we didn't have to stay at a hotel. It was very nice to be able to gather together with all the participants for the meals at the camp site.

The nights we very cold, but we managed by putting on our whole wardrobe (at least five layers). We also had a steaming hot shower every morning and night, which felt amazing! The camping site was very nice with gorgeous with huge fields for the dogs to run on, and the view from the top of the hill was indescribably gorgeous !



Saturday was an early morning helping setting up the waterwork test site. That day Bettina was helping out by being the "stranger drowner” for level E and C, while I looked after our girls. We had entered Ruuti, Vera and Capri in level A. Vera and Capri passed their levels with enthusiasm (both got the full marks for every exercise), Ruuti wasn't as enthusiastic as we had hoped, but she succeeded and passed level A. This was an exhausting trip right after Dienville especially for our little youngster Ruuti. It was a very rainy, cold and windy day, so the judge's comment sheets got too wet to write them up properly. Once we get them, we'll post them here.

Sunday was the draft day, a nice change to the waterwork. The weather was very nice; a semi-cloudy day with a little breeze (though we both got sunburnt - still don't know how that happened). We had entered Vera and Ruuti to level 1 and Ruuti to level 2 (provided that she passed level 1 first). We felt that Vera was not yet technically proficient enough t enter draft level 2. In level 2, the dog has to pull the cart in various terrains, slopes and master various turns. Vera tends to be over enthusiastic about pulling the cart, meaning she does not yet have the patience for tight turns (..and I still need practice guiding the cart and the dog ;-)). 

--> Practicing what it feels like for the dog to pull the cart up the slope. The idea is that the handler is more aware of how the cart moves and tips and what the dog has to do to get the cart up. With this knowledge the handler is better able to guide and help the dog.


---> It is important to watch and learn from the the more experienced: where to walk, where to place hands, how to take the terrain into account, how to pack the cart etc..


--->Making an about-turn on a slope


--->Changing dogs. It is important that the handler has the know-how to guide other dogs, not just their own.


There are a lot more pictures in the photogallery!

Everything went really well and they passed the levels. In the morning we followed the level 3 do their draft. It was a pleasure to walk through as we learned A LOT of new things again, the judges made it a very interesting haul, going over the hilltops, different terrains, obstacles and steep ups and downs.

--->About to go downhill. See the judge's head peeping behind the edge. And the man was almost 2m tall! So very steep decline!


--->Les with Yogi


--->Winnie (a blind Newfie) also participated on Level 3 haul! She is amazing!


Ruuti's comments (level 1) :
Very attentive which is lovely in a dog so young. Minimal loss of points, a beautiful well controlled test, a pleasure to judge. Well done.

Ruuti's comments (level 2):
Control section - Excellent change of pace, great heelwork and recall, good controlled
Haul – Team worked really well together – lots of praise, encouragement & clear commands – keep up the good work!

Vera's comments (level 1):
Lovely attention on handler and beautifully executed turns slightly off line on occasions but not worryingly so. A joy to judge, an attentive an enthousiastic dog. Loved the roly poly.

Monday was again a very nice day with some sun. We headed to the waterwork site at Bala Lake in the morning to help with setting the site and with the D level drowning. For the first few dogs Bettina kept shouting "Help!" while drowning, only then did one of the judges say that shouting "help" was not the best idea. Last time when someone had shouted "help" in the trainings at that lake, the rescue helicopter had started circling around that part of the lake.

We entered Vera and Capri for the B level, Ruuti was too tired to even get her paws wet! There were an amazing 22 entries in the B class! Both of the older girls passed their levels, which was surprising as Vera actually did her FIRST EVER underwater retrieve :-) ! Amazing! We had "known" that we would not be able to pass the level with her as she had Never Ever picked things from underwater. Bettina just kept on trying different things to test if something clicked with Vera for the 3 min time limit - she dropped it in front of her, tried to get Vera to paw it out, ran on the shore, teased with the object etc.. then one of the judges said "how about making it a fetch -exercise?". So Bettina threw it deeper in the water and said "Bring" -- and Vera brought it!! I still cannot believe. I almost ran to the shore to give Vera the biggest hug for making me so so very proud!

It was an exhausting weekend for everyone as we haven't really slept in a tent for ages (last time last summer, but that was just during a hiking trip). Vera and Ruuti mostly slept in the car, Capri was the spoiled one and got to sleep in the tent with us [She woke up the neighbours by crying in the car].

When I went to let her in the tent - she Ran in and when I finally came back after checking on the other girls - she was happily snoring, stretched out - on My mattress! I pushed her off as she was hogging the whole bed and there was no space for me to sleep in. In the middle of the night I woke up when she started inching her way back on the bed, and I had no heart to push her off again [I'm a softie when it comes to Capri]. For the rest of the night, we slept right next to each other, all warm and snuggled up.

When we finally left Bala and got to my friend's house in Nottingham - the girls were sleeping while standing. As soon as we opened the door and after they had greeted everyone - they fell asleep and the house was filled with the sound of snoring.

It has been two days now, and the girls are still exhausted. Though to be fair, we went to a deer park yesterday (5 mins away) to let the girls stretch their tired muscles off-leash and they had so much fun they forgot to take it easy.

And the link to the picture gallery:


(c) Salmelin