On January 17, 2012, history was made in the field-trial world. Not since the 1976-1977 season and Mr A.M. Gregory’s FTCh Tayburn Cockle has a dog won the Cocker Spaniel Championship twice in a row.
“I was doubly nervous the first year,” says champion handler Ben Randall. “In 2011 I thought that there was a possibility of winning, so I felt the pressure. But this year I didn’t expect to win – nobody wins twice in a row – so I was more relaxed.”
Ledbury Lodge Kennels in Herefordshire, where Ben Randall and wife Nicky board as well as train dogs, is a tribute to the thought and effort this couple put into everything they do, and effort and care seem to be their undermining motto. Given that Ben Randall no doubt puts the same amount of thought and effort into his dog training, it’s no surprise he has become so successful. He is a good person to speak to about how things have changed in the trialling world.
If you ask Ben Randall about stamina. It’s often a criticism levelled at trial dogs that they are fast and flashy but lack the engine to last a full day in the field. Ben Randall is aware of the view.
“Trials dogs are shooting dogs. Mine all do their apprenticeships in the beating line and picking-up. Trials are the shop window of the working spaniel world and as competitors, we have a duty to produce sound, healthy and capable animals, as most of the dogs we breed are going to end up in the hands of people who want to work them, not trial them.”
There are many factors involved in producing a dog that is not only sharp at handling but has the energy and stamina to last the day.
As the days get bigger in terms of birds, guns wanting harder terrain it is important the dogs not only adapt to the surroundings but carry the fuel on board to get them through the day.
I feed probably over 100 different foods people bring to the kennels for the dogs. But I personally for the past six years have fed Kronch along with the supplement daily of the Cold Pressed Salmon oil.
The oil gives the finish which is pleasing to the eye but also keeps my dogs dry on the undercoat no matter how bad or wet the conditions are.
I like to use Pemmican half way through the day as a good 4-5 hour boost without adding too much in terms of bulk food.
Having seen the improvement in not only my dogs but many of my clients and trailing friends dogs I worked for two years with Graham Tweed at Kronch and developed my own Champions Choice range.
The food, as with all Kronch foods is based on conversion to energy meaning more of it goes to create fuel for the dog and less comes out of the back.
Being complete it is also normal to feed approx 30% less than some of the commercial foods on the market.
I also use the Optimal which has been voted No 1 Puppy food world wide for the the last three years and is one of the best puppy/whelping both foods I have used.
Four Cocker Championship appearances in the last four years and being awarded gun dog trainer of the year comes down to the package of Dog, Handler and food and I consider I have got it pretty much spot on.