It’s Crufts week – and dog sports will be in the spotlight once more. Flyball and agility are popular competitions, and get plenty of screen time, as does heelwork to music, but working trials are still something of a mystery to the average pet owner. Our recent feature on working trials is a great introduction to what’s involved, and we’d also recommend watching the demonstration team at Crufts too – they will be in the Dog Activities Ring twice each day. Meet them here…
Team Leader, Crufts Demonstration Team for Working Trials
The selected working trials demonstration team at Crufts 2023 represent various areas of the country and include a variety of breeds. The team members also currently work at different levels, from beginners (or just starting out on their working trials journey), up to and including the highest-level Championship (ticket) stakes.
As an entirely outdoor sport, working trials is very difficult to demonstrate in an environment, such as the NEC. Tracking on carpet that has had constant traffic of human and dog scent is a challenge. That said, the dogs always cope incredibly well and to the best of their ability. This is a testament to the amount of good training they receive from their owners/handlers.
Throughout the display, we demonstrate a condensed version of the beginnings of training for trials, through to the progression towards working the highest stakes. We’d like to thank Grass Direct for donating the AstroTurf that we use to demonstrate the search square.
We’d also like to send a big thank you to Stan Ford, who is once again providing the commentary for the team demos this year. He always presents using a combination of his vast expertise in working trials, together with good humour, encouraging the audience to participate and engage.
We hope that you enjoy reading the bios of our team members and if anyone would like to learn more about this amazing sport, please feel welcome to come and join us for chat on the Activities Stand.
Jess Ica and Tessa
Registered name: Lady Aurora Tessa
Pet name: Tessa
Tessa is my first dog and I’d never heard of working trials before. I took her as a youngster to obedience-based training classes. Our trainer told me about the sport, as he thought Tessa had great potential and invited us along to one of his working trial training sessions back in 2021. I sceptically went along and was instantly hooked.
What I loved – and still love about it – is that training for this sport primarily takes place outside, so it really pushed me to work on my connection with Tessa to ensure that she listens to me and takes commands when we are out and about. This is especially important when there are other distractions around such as unfamiliar dogs and people.
Tessa is a Cockapoo – a show Cocker crossed with a Miniature Poodle – so probably not the type of dog you’d most associate with doing working trials, but I really enjoy being able to represent this crossbreed and prove that any dog can get involved and excel in dog sport.
Dean Woodcock and Kane
Registered name: Bamboozle Kane CDEx UDEx WDEx
Pet name: Kane
I have been involved in trials for about 26 years and got started after speaking to someone at a dog training club.
I have worked a variety of dogs, starting with my first, who was a collie called Bess, then a GSD, and then another collie called Abi, who gained the title Working Trial Champion.
Next was my first Kelpie, who qualified TDEx several times, so is the highest placed Kelpie in trials so far. My latest dog is Kane, who is high drive, yet a nice dog.
I have been lucky, as I’ve received so much help from fellow trialists over the years and this is why it’s so good helping each other.
Priscilla Baylis and Bethan
Registered name: Bethan Blue of Kingscote CDEx UDEx WDEx
Pet name: Bethan
I came into trials in 2016 and as soon as I started training, I was hooked, so I’m thrilled to have been included within the team.
I love the ruggedness of trials and that that no two venues are the same, and although the exercises are structured, I’ve found them to be fun and relaxed.
Over the years, I’ve travelled to some lovely venues and have found most people welcoming and happy to help. At one venue, I even pitched my tent in the trial manager’s garden and when I asked where I could find a pub for supper, they insisted I eat with them and their team of helpers!
Bethan is a WSD (working sheepdog), a lovely sweet honest dog that always tries her best for me. She’ll be nine this year, but is still very fit and agile, so hopefully we’ll go on a while longer!
She loves meeting people and especially children, so please feel free to come and say hello and find out more about our lovely sport.
Susan Stalinski and Stevie
Registered name: Nyrvana All That Jazz
Pet name: Stevie
Stevie is a sweet and cheeky two-year-old working line German Shepherd Dog. Like many other lockdown puppies, she missed out on much of the usual socialisation, which left her a little unsure about the world around her. However, as she’s grown, she’s matured into a confident, happy and optimistic dog, ready to take on all the challenges life can throw at her. In fact, her main faults are those of over enthusiasm!
A combination of circumstances and injury (mine) kept us off the trials competition field last year, but we’ve been loving our training and can’t wait to be making our trials debut his year.
Both Stevie and I love the varied challenges that working trials presents. Because it involves all the dog’s natural behaviours, it must be one of the most satisfying and fun activities for them to participate.
As well as working trials, Stevie competes in obedience and we’re very proud to be representing Wales in the Inter-regional Obedience competition this year at Crufts.
When she’s not training and participating in all her activities, she loves running in the hills and swimming in the rivers near her home in the Brecon Beacons.
Becky Price and Mist
Registered name: Glenalpine Morning Mist CDex UDex WDex TDex
Pet name: Mist
I’ve been involved in trials since a young teenager, when helping out at Martine’s dog club. I was taught how to lay tracks, put out a square, call a round etc. When Martine bred Mist’s litter, I jumped at the chance to have a dog of my own, that I could train for trials. So, I got Mist when I was 17 and from the get-go trials were definitely our thing!
While my friends were out partying on weekends, I was travelling up and down the country, just me and Mist, chasing qualifications… and I wouldn’t change a thing!
That’s the reason I love trials – you get to go to so many different places, travelling the country and competing with your best friend at the same time!
The trials community is filled with some of the friendliest and most supportive people I know. Everything I have learnt about dog training has come from sound advice and help from this community.
Working trials leaves you with a well-trained, well-rounded dog and the sense of pride and accomplishment you get from qualifying is the best feeling ever!
Trials challenges you and rewards you, and that’s what makes it such a great sport!
Holly Wright and Rein
Registered name: Roanlodge Charmaine CDEx UDEx
Pet name: Rein
We call Rein the golden girl, because (in my eyes at least) she can actually do no wrong. The easiest dog to raise and live with, hugely talented, very level-headed but driven, great fun, incredibly loving and always forgiving of my umpteen mistakes. She’s saved my ass on the field more times than I can count!
We really love the variety in working trials. In fact, there isn’t a single exercise she doesn’t find gratifying, to the extent that she’ll free track herself right back to the car after having the harness taken off after a track, and is always quick to voluntarily retrieve any dropped items in the house, often pushing them into my hand before I’ve had chance to turn around. She’s even put herself into heelwork with strangers we’ve met in the park!
Coming off the trial field with the euphoria and satisfaction of success is like no other feeling and the wonderful, friendly trials community that you get to share it with.
Julia Edwards and Jade
Registered name: Starlight Jade CDEx
Pet name: Jade
Jade is a nine-year-old fox red Labrador. She comes from working stock and has participated in working trials for the last five years and has qualified CDX and UD open. She especially enjoys her training at Banbury Dog Training Club. We got involved after meeting someone at a scentwork course who recommended the discipline to me.
There are a variety of different exercises that allows one to bond with your dog and get a good partnership together, which has helped us in her other dog sports. The search square is her favourite, as this is a retrieving dog’s dream job!
She is a very versatile dog, achieving grade 5 in agility and grade 8 in scentwork. She has managed to stay fit and healthy, and is still able to compete in her many activities despite her advancing years.
She is my first working trials dog and I am now training my youngster to follow in her pawsteps.
Sheila Margreaves and Chesney
Registered name: Khamysker Rocket
Pet name: Chesney
German Shepherds have been in our family from the 1950s when my parents had excellent breeding lines. When I began training with my first German Shepherd Dog, simply for an obedient pet dog, I was introduced to working trials by an ex-RAF dog handler, who ran classes for both obedience and working trials.
From then on, I found working trials was the hobby for me. The thing I like most is the diversity of exercises.
I have completed in working trials for a number of years to a high level of qualifications. My current German Shepherd Dog has qualified throughout the stakes CDex, UDex, WDex and TDex with an overall Championship working trials win in TDex, which then qualified him to compete at the Kennel Club Championships where he achieved 4th place overall.
Thanks to all that have helped me along my competitive journey.
John Wykes and Rory
KC registered name: Dreaganta Red Rory CDEx UDEx WDEx TDEx
Pet name: Rory
I have been involved in working trials now for over 40 years. I was introduced to it by a fellow triallist, Sue Ashby, and that was it – I was hooked, it’s a fantastic activity. It’s the only dog activity that gives you everything – nosework, obedience and agility – and the dogs (and handlers) love it.
I’ve had a number of dogs, all Border Collies, and until recently all related. I’ve been very lucky and have qualified all of them up to TDex and one of them also PDex and have made up one to a working trials Champion.
I’ve recently got myself a puppy, Glen, so watch this space!
Jo Sermon and Shady
Registered name: Shade of Freedom
Pet name: Shady
I started in working trials in the 80s with a GSD who happily took me round tracks; sadly, his hips weren’t up to the job. I then took my show-bred Bearded Collie and started agility.
Many years later, Shady came along and he’s just too big for modern agility – standing taller than the tunnels that they do so many of today.
John Wykes very kindly spent some time teaching us tracking and we loved it so much, we decided to take up working trials.
Martine and Charlie Taylor carried on the training; we had attended one trial when Covid hit. My boys both track every week and love their search squares! With an independent and highly driven dog like a working Beardie, it is so important to find them occupation. Exercise gets them fitter; brain work makes them happy.
Of all the sports I’ve competed in, working trials is the one the dogs enjoy the most. Trials has tracking and I’ve yet to meet a dog that doesn’t love using its nose.
Working trials is great fun and extremely rewarding for both dog and handler. Events/ training days/trials are held throughout the UK.
More information about Working Trials can be found on the Kennel Club website under Events and Activities. There are also Working Trials Rules and Regulations set by the Kennel Club and these can also be found on their website, giving full details of stakes, entry requirements and everything else you need to know when competing.
The website Working Trials Info, which also contains a trials calendar, training articles, judges reports and much more is also a huge source of information. Many training clubs and Societies contact details are found on WTI, some also have their own websites and can also be found on Facebook, including the pages ‘The Active Trialist’ and ‘Working Trials’.
For a recently compiled directory of Working Trial clubs, visit https://www.flipsnack.com/DTWPREMIER/wt-club-directory-2023.html