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It's not as easy as it looks! Showcasing SWD's at the Ardingly Game Fair.

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

In this post Jane Appleton gives an insight into her, Quizzi's and Cassi's weekend at the South of England Agricultural Society Autumn Show and Game Fair at Ardingly and tells us how sometimes it harder than it looks.

After weeks of training, with high hopes and not a few doubts we excitedly pile up all we need in the hall ready for the morning. Quizzi reads the signs, and when I tell him “It’s Cassi’s turn” he turns those doleful SWD eyes on me and goes back to his bed, tipping back his head so that his ears look extra-appealing.

The weather is not kind and the journey takes ages so we miss the beginning of Judy’s briefing. Suddenly we are in the ring, in the rain. The dogs all sit patiently round the large grass arena while Judy introduces us to the gathering crowd. Cassi has to retrieve a dummy from inside a tunnel, while I sit on the straw bales that support it. Clever girl, she gets it and bounces up to deliver the dummy to me in fine style. Phew! The others all carry out their retrieves and we all demonstrate steadiness at sit, watching. After a short dash round the enticing stalls and a quick coffee, we greet the visitors to our minority breed kennels and Cassi shows people what a sweet natured girl she is, sending kisses to the toddlers through the Covid-barrier bars.

The afternoon session in perfect weather is not to Cassi’s liking and she decides it will be much more fun to clear up the freshly deposited horse-poo than the dummies. But that’s the nature of our cheeky breed, isn’t it!

We bravely show our faces on the Sunday morning session with Quizzi waiting in the wings to encourage us. Cassi is asked to demonstrate hunting-up. She goes really wide, seeking a more pheasant-friendly environment but there is none to be had, the randomly placed brashing piles don’t fool her one bit. We stand aside and the other spaniel breeds show us up. Judy kindly asks us what we might like to do for the final session and Cassi is allowed to enjoy a successful retrieve to me at the straw-bale jump, and shows how to use a place-board to promote a good retrieve to hand. So we didn’t disgrace ourselves and when we were recognised back at the secure display kennels Quizzi did not feel embarrassed to welcome us. Thanks to our patient trainer Judy Hempstead our training is coming on really well, but it’s much harder to work our dogs in a public arena, believe me.

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