I feel that this year’s Crufts was a different experience for me as a young gundog handler. Maybe because I am older and looking at it from a more mature perspective or maybe because of the coronavirus

The atmosphere

People seemed to be less social and this was evident around the BASC rings where numbers were visibly down. I did notice a few new faces though.

People who enter the BASC ring are like a big family to me, many I have got to know through scurry competitions or other events.

The event

Crufts did what it always does every year – it never disappoints. It’s touching that the event has a wide variety of people and dogs who come together to compete and support each other.

Crufts 2020 was a good year for me and my family as our Irish water spaniels got placed in the competition. 

I have been to Crufts every year since I was eight and every time, I have shown an Irish water spaniel. This year, we only participated in the BASC rings and not the breed classes. Our dogs are fit for purpose and they meet the criteria for the breed with regards to conformation but, sadly as working dogs, their coat does become damaged.

As the shoot season ends in February, it does not give us enough time to allow our dogs’ coats to recover. This is the reason why working breeds quite often come short in the breed classes, especially at Crufts.

Young gundog handlers' class

I also participated in the young gundog handlers’ class and came second with Eider. I feel that this class is very important for every young gundog handler from all walks of life. It is their chance to show off their skills.

We all play a role in keeping the world of game shooting and conservation alive for the future. However, it is important that those who do attend the BASC classes to understand how important it is to have worked their dogs on shoots throughout the season, otherwise it takes away the integrity of the classes.

An extra special year

Crufts was also special this year because my mum was awarded a Kennel Club Accreditation as a qualified working gundog instructor. Also, our young Irish water spaniel was awarded Top Puppy in breed 2019, which is a very big achievement for us. He was quite a challenge for us, much like any other Irish water spaniel.

More events on the cards

I hope other events this year will go ahead.

We are looking forward to attending The Game Fair this year which has been moved to 16-20 September, so fingers crossed. I hope to be in a team event there with the working minority retriever club.

Stay in, stay safe and we will all be out working our fantastic dogs again soon!

BASC has produced some useful blogs that may help you hone your gundog’s skills while in isolation. 

Oscar Tarbox

I’m 15 years old and live in Heathfield, East Sussex. I have been writing articles for my mum’s dog club for some years and have written for local parish newsletters, Scouts and school newsletters as well. I also like composing songs. I have a love of words and the English language (I performed Shakespeare in drama exams). My passion with gundogs has helped me write my first BASC article, which you can read in the November/December S&C. My other passion is photography; I hope to study journalism and photography. I have been working with gundogs from early age, having the encouragement from my mum and gaining so much from her. With our Cuvana gundogs we participate in a range of both competitive and fun dog activities. I am looking forward to taking on this new challenge and hope to inspire other young people to write.

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