Louis and me

by Fay Moffat-Roberts

Louis’ start in life We think that Louis is currently about 6 years old he was rescued from Tipton in the Black Country when he was about 3 years old. He was still “entire”, very aggressive (distrusting of people and other dogs – actually of life in general!). His whole manner was one of defensiveness and mistrust. His lead work was a wonder to behold! He could reverse out of his collar at lightening pace. He was rescued by Tim and Giselle Lockett, who still own him now. Fortunately for Louis their patience with him has paid off and he has become a lovely dog with a great love of life – unfortunately hasn’t managed to shake off his artful dodger skills at pinching food – but we think this is a Dally rather than Louis trait. Louis’s family now consists of two other welfare Dalmatians, Domino and Cuba, many chickens, one horse and four ponies. Louis had not met horses in his past life and is still not very confident around them. Tim and Giselle gave me the opportunity to work with Louis towards the BCDS trials, as my own rescue dog, Smudge, who was eight when I rehomed him, and has had many of his own behavioural problems, is 11 now and unfortunately too old to take part.

This sounds easy you think, however, anyone you talk to about training their dog in general, let alone to run behind a horse and carriage will say otherwise. So here is the predicament. This is my first time taking part in the BCDS trials; I am training a welfare dog with many issues and who does not belong to me. Most Dalmatians tend to respond to only one person, poor Louis now has three, how confusing for him! Training your own dog can have its setbacks let alone trying to train someone else’s, and with a horse. I always wanted a challenge!!

The training begins I started getting to know Louis at Jane Friends by having a social gathering of many Dalmatians and people; here I would take Louis from Giselle and Tim and do a couple of obedience practices and play with him. Louis didn’t understand why I had him and what had happened to his mum and dad. He did become confused and a little insecure; however, I tried to make it as much fun as possible so not to knock his confidence. In time he settled down more and more with me each time we went. It is important to build a positive relationship, which is going from strength to strength. Louis on his lead in training.

Louis on his lead in training.

The first exercise was to bring Louis, Domino and Cuba to where I keep my horse Teegan. We took them all out for a walk with Domino and Cuba walking with Tim and Louis on a long lead with Giselle holding him and me giving him encouragement with the odd command, while I rode my horse. This allowed everyone including Louis to see how things went without anything negative occurring. I.e. If Louis became scared then he could get out of the way safely, Teegan understood that there was a dog beside her and had to behave, and if anything happened Giselle was on hand. He did exceptionally well considering this was the first time he had done anything like this before. He is not very comfortable around horses and does not know me that well. While we were out we met many dogs guarding their property and with a little encouragement, Louis ignored them and carried on his journey with his new pal Teegan and very pleased with himself. He took everything in his stride and looked like he knew what his new purpose in life should be, running behind a horse.

During the winter months I went round to Tim and Giselle’s on a regular basis to build up a relationship with Louis, by playing with him and taking him out for walks with his family. Once the snow went and spring eventually came we took Teegan and the dogs to the Wyre forest which was a great opportunity because I could concentrate on Teegan and Louis without the worry of traffic. So I took hold of Louis on the lead and rode Teegan. Trying to control two different animals is quite a challenge in itself; I think that some of the people we met along our ride/walk thought I was slightly mad.

We also took the dogs to the Wyre forest with our bikes as well. This was a great way to get ourselves and the dogs’ fitter and simulate their training in a variety of activities so hopefully they didn’t get bored. Also it gave me a chance to train Louis without concentrating on Teegan as well.

I am very fortunate with Teegan she is so good with dogs even if the lead gets tangled up, she just waits patiently until I untangle myself. She doesn’t tread on them and is aware that she has to behave and babysit the dog. Louis has built up his confidence with Teegan and they appear to work very well with each other. To the point now that if something Louis is cautious of he almost hides beside Teegan for her protection – thought he was supposed to protect the horse and rider!!!!!???

Trials So the trials snuck up quicker than expected, hoping that the training we have done will be enough. I received my times for the vet checks, tack check, obedience and endurance sections. So Giselle brought Louis to me at 08:30, and then went away and hid until I had finished. So I bravely took Teegan in one hand and Louis in the other to the vet, so that they could assess that they were healthy enough to take part. I felt quite proud as everyone else waiting their turn had a handler either for their dog or horse. So hurray the vet passed them both and so we can all can take part.

My tack was checked and then I waited my turn to take part in the obedience section. Louis was very relaxed waiting patiently next to Teegan on the lead. He has come a long way in such a short space of time. Here he is away from everything he knows, i.e. none of his family is about, a strange location and he appears so relaxed and confident with Teegan. We then went down to the practise area and waited our turn. Louis working with Fay’s horse Teegan.

We were called into the obedience arena and another Dalmatian was near the entrance and Louis managed to slip his lead, oops. From there onwards it did not go to plan. Once he was caught we tried the first obedience task which was recall, so a steward held onto Louis for me and I walked away with Teegan and called him. He wasn’t interested in what I was asking, he had more important things to do like meet and greet everyone who were watching on the side lines. How disappointing and embarrassing! So we decided to place him back onto the lead. Then I tried to do a figure of eight in trot, with him on the lead which was difficult to do and did not quite go to plan, so unfortunately we had to abandon the obedience section.

Louis working with Fay’s horse Teegan.

However, we were allowed to continue on the endurance section; normally if you fail the obedience section this is not allowed due to the safety aspect. We obviously did not appear to be as bad as it felt. So I left Louis on the lead and we had a great time out in the countryside (this being more familiar to him) and had a very good time. I am so glad that they gave me the opportunity to do the endurance section with him. Louis came back with a huge grin on his face and looked as if he had thoroughly enjoyed himself. That is what this is all about going out and having fun and enjoyment with your horse and borrowed dog. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity and experience and would like to thank everyone who has allowed me to achieve this. So it didn’t go to plan but we all enjoyed ourselves and now it has provided a starting block and gives us all something to aim for next time. Louis sporting his 2013 Carriage Dog Trials rosette.

Louis sporting his 2013 Carriage Dog Trials rosette.

Future So Louis and I have continued to have our regular sessions together, e.g. taking him for walks with and without the bike and Teegan. He is still improving little by little. When I started training with him he would not listen to me as I am not in charge, his mum and dad maybe but definitely not me. So when I tried recall with him he would take his time to actually come back to me, if at all. Also it was far more interesting to stay with Domino and Cuba than to be with me. I took him out this week and only had to call him once and he came straight back to me. Patience is a very important aspect to training and I think that people expect things to happen too quickly especially with rescue dogs. As the saying goes patience is a virtue! Hopefully mine will be and we will have a more successful trials next year, but whatever happens we will go and enjoy ourselves.

Burns Dog Days Out 2011 – by Jane Friend

Avril Pluck’s Spin waits for her turn in the display ring, with Harry at the head of a pretty Welsh pony loaned to Avril for the day.

Avril Pluck’s Spin waits for her turn in the display ring, with Harry at the head of a pretty Welsh pony loaned to Avril for the day. Marianne Taylor’s Mollie shows her work on the lead. Pat Dutson drives with Neil Dutson hitching a lift on the back to encourage Cato behind. Lester Dagge’s Buttons in an unorthodox position under the axle as she looks for the highwayman!

A thoroughly enjoyable event we had eight dogs and five carriages we had as a theme the training process for the carriagedog including the role of the Society.

Lester Dagge kindly arranged for five of the equipages. Two of his BDS friends came and were accompanied by Marianne Taylor with Molly and Sue Beamon with Benson. Avril Pluck was loaned a feisty little Welsh mare and gave a good show with Harry and Spin! Pat, Neil and Cato, who joined our party on Saturday afternoon, made a super first time display.

Marianne Taylor’s Mollie shows her work on the lead.
Pat Dutson drives with Neil Dutson hitching a lift on the back to encourage Cato behind.

We had two Dalmatians – Sue Lee with Daisy Mae and Fay Moffatt with Smudge – who gave us the opportunity to make people aware of some of the hazards of over, and poor breeding practices and how the Society particularly worked with Dalmatian Welfare. We also had a third on foot (guess who!) highlighting the too young to display theme.

Lester Dagge’s Buttons in an unorthodox position under the axle as she looks for the highwayman!

I can thoroughly recommend this Burns event, several of us did overnight as it is after all in a different country (for some of us) and sadly the weather confirmed why there are reservoirs in Wales.

Triple Rescue – by Maggie and Ron Gallop

This story was originally recounted for the British Dalmatian Welfare newsletter visit Dalmatian Welfare

Thanks to Dalmatian Welfare we have three lovely Dalmatians and we’ve learned a lot about re-homing! Charlie Brown at home.

Charlie Brown at home.

Mr Darcy was reputed to be aggressive. He stole food and growled at his owner who wanted him destroyed. The vet refused. When we agreed to take him, the vet gave us things to do to ensure Mr Darcy knew his place in our family. A priority was: establish an authority over the dog from the start- treat the dog as a dog, not as a person. For example, make sure you eat before the dog; expect the dog to wait for its food, then give it permission to eat. Mr Darcy is a real gentleman. If he could, he would lick you to death!

Miss Mollie needed a foster home. Her first family included two young children: one resented her; she frightened the other and took attention from both. At first, Mollie was wary. Standing near her, she would growl in a threatening manner. We tried to ignore this and not to allow the situation to arise. After about six weeks Mollie stopped growling. We realized how important it is to: take time to get to know each dog and not expect the ‘new one’ to be like the ‘old one’. Mollie settled so well with Mr Darcy, when a possible new home came up we couldn’t part with her. She’s independent, a fearless explorer and has excellent tracking skills – although still wary of people she doesn’t know.

Charlie Brown was placed in kennels at 18 months. He’d had no training and bit people! We were to train him prior to re-homing. Charlie was a quick learner. Within three months he was a model pet.

Not really having space for three dogs, we recommended re-homing. Unhappily his early learned bad behaviour returned in two nice homes. We learned that dogs need consistent messages about their place in the ‘pack’. Important for all dogs but especially one that has learned it can bite people. Establish procedures for handling the dog – get everyone in the family to keep to these. A year later, Charlie Brown is still with us. He is the most affectionate chap but still needs reminders about behaviour and his place in our pack. Mr Darcy and Miss Mollie help with this!

The opportunity to run seems to be central to their health and happiness. We are fortunate to be able to give them experience of their working heritage. Mr Darcy is a natural as a carriage dog and gained gold award at the British Carriage Dog Society’s National Trials. Miss Mollie loves running at the horse’s hocks and last year achieved bronze as a Road Dog. Charlie Brown’s first attempts as a carriage dog gained him bronze at this year’s trials. And we are proud owners of three lovely but very different dogs! The spots are definitely catching!

Irish Training Day September 2010 by Sarah Morgan

Folke Rohrssen with his young bitch Uli practising recall at the Irish Trials Training Day

On 4th September 2010, the second Carriage Dog Training Day was held at Saunders Grove, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow. This lovely estate has been the site of Carriage Trials in the past, and this year they most generously opened their gates to the carriage dogs. About half of those dogs were “old pros,” seasoned by the first Irish training day back on 20th June.

Folke Rohrssen with his young bitch Uli practising recall at the Irish Trials Training Day

Rain drenched us all as we arrived, although it would lift for the training itself. But it was clear from the start that this was going to be a great day. The dogs, most of whom were unacquainted with each other, romped together happily in a field. All right, there were a few unconvincing grumbles between the entire males, but there was no threat of a fight.

All the handlers who took part, for the first time or the second, can look back on the day with pride. Dalmatians have a reputation for being difficult, if not impossible, to train. Most of the exercises Alison Burgess conducted in the morning session required the Dalmatian to turn away from a temptation and orientate itself to its owner. As any trainer will tell you, this is where most training falls apart. It is, however, essential if the dog is to follow a carriage.

Under Alison’s careful guidance, the playfully affectionate bonds between these dogs and their owners triumphed over temptations ranging from flying balls, other dogs, and sausages to that wonderful delicacy—cow pats. Most of all, they had to be willing to return to their owners when called back from the sheer joy of running free, a pleasure dear to a Dalmatian’s heart. All the dogs acquitted themselves well.

The skies opened up during our lunch break, but the afternoon session was able to start an hour and a half later when the rain faded to a soft drizzle. We exchanged the field for an enormous walled garden that was given over to grass. The training there was more specific to the trial. There were stations set up, each allowing us to focus on a different aspect of the next day’s trial. While one dog practiced stays by a parked carriage, another was examined by Marie Bailey pretending to be a vet. Tim Stafford helped us teach our dogs to ignore the distraction dog. As some of the dogs had scarcely encountered a horse before, a horse and rider would walk beside the dogs and their handlers just to get them used to the idea. Finally, there was a chance to follow a horse and carriage for real.

Anne Dickens and her two dogs gave us a splendid display of what can be done if you combine carriage driving and some imaginative dog training. Finally, all present learned what they could expect the next day.

But someone else will have to tell the story of the Trial day itself. All that rain gave my Bandit a nasty case of cold tail, a painful condition in which the tail droops limply after the first four inches at the root. Instead of trying for his Bronze, he spent the day trying to find a place where he could comfortably lie down. He was a perfect picture of misery until I decided to take my riding helmet and some other paraphernalia upstairs. As my arms were full, I plonked the helmet onto my head.

Suddenly, Bandit raced to the front door and looked back at me over his shoulder, his eyes sparkling. He’d only seen me wearing a riding helmet briefly on two occasions, but he already knew what it meant. He couldn’t wait to get back to that wonderful sport that he and a dozen or so other Irish dogs had just discovered.

Mr Darcy does the cones in traditional style – by Maggie and Ron Gallop

Mr Darcy trots behind his carriage at the Concours D’Attelage de Tradition at Helmingham Hall in Suffolk

Mr Darcy trots behind his carriage at the Concours D’Attelage de Tradition at Helmingham Hall in Suffolk

The British Driving Society’s 2nd Concours d’Attelage de Tradition was held at Helmingham Hall, Suffolk, on the 14th/15th August 2010, brilliantly organised by Area Commissioner, Eunice Binder.Sunday’s events were held jointly with the Suffolk Punch Trust and the Suffolk Smallholders Society. Ten traditional turnouts joined in a weekend of carriage driving that was great fun with an element of competition and a taste of French hospitality. Our contribution to tradition was, of course, the working carriage dog.

After a standing presentation on Saturday afternoon, we set off with Mr Darcy and Miss Mollie on an eight mile drive around quiet lanes and sleepy Suffolk villages. At Framsden,we were greeted by crowds who turned out to welcome us and served with refreshments from the local pub. On Saturday evening, the Stable Courtyard and Carriage-house Restaurant provided a fine setting for a reception, dinner and entertainment. On Sunday morning, a Ring Guard in full regalia added to the pageantry, horn blowing to announce the competitors as they tackled the 15 gate cones course and six driving skills tests. While this was Maggie’s first ever cones course and one handed circle, Mr Darcy excelled himself. His performance can be seen at In Harness (scroll down and click the “Latest Videos” button).

The afternoon saw individual parades in the main ring with commentaries on each turnout: a chance to promote the British Carriage Dog Society. The event president, Lady Tollemache, presented the Trophy and Rosettes. This was followed by the opportunity for turnouts to trot up the long, straight drive to the magnificent hall with crowds waiting at the top to applaud! Mr Darcy and Miss Mollie were very proud to receive the Judge’s Special Award.

Read more about this event in the Autumn 2010 In Harness magazine.

My First Carriage Dog Trials, Oh What Fun We Had!!!

Celia grooms for Maura Reade with her dog Domino behind – summing up the spirit of the day!

Lots of training and weekly hydrotherapy, where does the time go, suddenly the trials were upon us.

The evening before the trials, competitors were allowed to drive the course, 6 miles seemed never ending. I honestly wondered at one stage if Poppy was going to make it, so many Well Pointed Out Hazards, would she fall over the edge on one of the drops?

Celia grooms for Maura Reade with her dog Domino behind – summing up the spirit of the day!

The Morning of the trial arrives, 5.45am, up at the crack of dawn, must feed Poppy early to allow for her food to digest, she was certainly oblivious to the day ahead- my stomach certainly was aware!!!

A quick walk for the dogs and then back to the caravan.

9am the Chuck wagon opens, serving breakfast. It was good to see others shared my stress, Donna competing with Milo and Maura driving for me and handling her 2 dogs. Although nervous they both joined us for breakfast, and they both managed full English – I struggled to eat a Banana!!!!!

9.30am we began getting Polo the pony ready, he certainly didn’t care for being clean – A Roll, a Rub and another Roll – 3 washes later he was ready to go. The team was made up of Maura Reade Whip handler with her 2 dogs Domino and Levi who came all the way from Ireland, myself and Poppy, not forgetting the lovely Polo, our carriage awaited us, a Bellcrown 2 wheeler and no brakes!!!

Prior to the trials, I had met Maura at the South East trials in 2009, but the dogs had not met or run together, my calm controlled demeanour had long since disappeared!!!!.

A quick warm up and then into the obedience, Poppy was first to go. As we entered the obedience course, my legs turned to jelly. Anne Dickens judging on her Percheron Nobel, towered above us and then gave us our first exercise, phew, that one went well, uh oh, next exercise, distraction dog, I let out a massive sigh of relief, Poppy stayed with the carriage. Suddenly the photographer appeared, Poppy just couldn’t resist in saying hello and then returned to her rightful place.

Next exercise the dreaded stay, of which I can’t tell you how many times I had practised. You will recall those famous words spoken by owners at dog classes, when a dog fails to perform and the embarrassed owner says ‘my dog does that really well at home,’ – Poppy certainly couldn’t!!!!

Anne asked me to give my final command and leave the dog, legs shaking I stood there, thinking to myself, why am I doing this, the minute seemed like 5. Maura quietly commented that it seemed like the longest minute ever. Whoopee we had done it, only 1 final exercise to go.

What a relief, Poppy had passed, Anne congratulated us, I thought to myself, 1 down only 2 dogs to go. Maura then completed her exercises with Domino who sailed through at Silver level and then completed bronze obedience with Levi.

Next to the vets area for fitness checks before setting off on the endurance course, as Maura put it, ‘now for the fun bit’.

In Scorching Midday sun, we set off, 3 dogs in tow. We had worked out our timings for each mile and were in good time. The stewards on the course were really welcoming, and Poppy especially liked the steward with goat’s milk, definitely her favourite stop. Off we went, I must say you don’t even notice the hazards as you are going round. We met the photographer again, I waved and smiled for the camera. At one point Polo did not want to walk on, so I had to walk with him a little way. As the photographer raised her camera I had to ask not to be photographed as this certainly would not have been the action shot she was after!!!.

Imagine the sigh of relief when we saw the finish line and entered the vet area, our first 6 miles over, Levi and Poppy had successfully completed the Bronze endurance. All checks completed, we prepared for the next round.

Uh oh, on getting ready to set off with Domino, I realised that the apples and bananas that I had packed in the rear basket of the carriage had disappeared, along with my lead rope, Note to self- more bungee clips needed!! Inadvertently I had provided my own fruit hazard on the course. On the second rotation, about a mile and a half into the course, we came across the bag with the fruit – I am pleased to report that the apples were still intact and most refreshing. However the bananas did not fair so well relinquishing their skins from the pressure of hooves and tyres!!

Once on the course it was great fun, Maura has a great sense of humour and I could not have asked for a better companion, the dogs worked well together and all the stresses from earlier had gone.

We made it, all 3 dogs passed and Polo was selected to compete for the fittest pony/ horse.

Just before going back to the vet Area to be judged Polo couldn’t resist a final roll, just as he had been washed for the final time. Much to everyone’s amusement, and performing to the assembled crowd he decided to roll just outside the stable area. Back to the shower, yet again, white ponies, who would have them?

All over, Saturday evening a night to relax and enjoy the BBQ and presentations, a good nights sleep for all.

Sunday, instinct tests, Maddie my Collie, became an honorary Dalmatian and showed great promise. I then teamed up with the Irish contingent, to enter the Doggy decathlon, organised by Alison Burgess, which was great fun, great games, especially the fishy sock and bucket of water, which really tests your dogs recall, in a time of need!!!

On reflection I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped to make the trials so enjoyable and successful.

To all those that have never competed before, it is a great experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Next time I know what to expect, so hopefully won’t be so nervous. Roll on next year, can’t wait.

DALIMILES: A way of life for Cynthia Styles-Forsythe, her cob Talisman and Dalmatians Daphne and Penny Patch

We had been training for the National Road Dog trials, so when I heard about DaliMiles and how it equals Dalimiles, I thought I would give it a go.

Cynthia rides Talisman with Daphne and Penny Patch on the South Downs

DaliMiles is a way life for Daphne and Penny Patch, my two Dalmatians. We get up at 5am on weekdays and ride down to the village and back which is two and half miles, then we go round the 30 acres of land where I keep Talisman until we have completed five miles.

Friday is my day off, so I like to go out in the trailer for a change of scenery. The photograph shows me riding Talisman accompanied by the dogs, after completing a 16 mile ride along the South Downs Way. We started at Harting Down and went to Hooksway, where I met a friend. We rode on to Chilgrove, the next village where my friend keeps her horse, and had a cup of tea and cake. Then we went on to Cocking and back along the South Downs Way. We rode 16 miles of countryside with fantastic views and no road work at all. How lucky are we! Cynthia rides Talisman with Daphne and Penny Patch on the South Downs

The Trailblazing Dalmatian by Anne Dickens

Fenris half way round the gold course – with a wet head after being dowsed with cooling water!

Fenris half way round the gold course – with a wet head after being dowsed with cooling water!

Our Carriage Dog Trials have been designed with today’s working conditions in mind. Dogs must be alongside or behind. A dog out front is in an unsafe and unacceptable position as far as the obedience test is concerned. But where does this leave the original ‘Trailblazer’?

How many of us have heard people say that their dog is actually trained to run out front? Sometimes to clear the way, sometimes to find the way, and sometimes just because its owner wants to keep an eye on it and that is, in their view, the safest place.

In past times the trailblazing dog was recognised and encouraged for its particular skills. A Dalmatian running in front of the carriage could warn of potential danger, could clear the way of vagabonds and could encourage the horses. This latter trait is something I believe I experienced at the 2009 Trials.

My dog Fenris is not a natural modern carriage dog. Those of you who have seen him work might be surprised to hear this, but it has taken a great deal of dedicated training to get him to run behind a carriage. And he does not much like it. He requires constant reminding and reinforcement.

At these Trials we were running the 25 mile Gold test. We had all kinds of adventures en route – the stuff of another tale – but one of these was that having set out with a pair of ponies, I decided to retire one of them, Parker, after 12 miles when the equine vet expressed concern about his high heart rate.

Parker and Polo had done the same amount of training, but I was, I’m ashamed to say, too lazy to give Parker a second clip prior to the Trials, which with hindsight he had needed. Furthermore, his workmate Polo has perfected the knack of tightening the traces just enough to make me think he is working – whilst allowing Parker to do more than his fair share. The effect of these two things on a very challenging course especially for a pair of 11.2hhs used mainly to the flat lanes of Kent, was that after 12 miles he was pooped – bless him!

So the upshot was that Polo, for his sins, having been given the all clear from the vet, had to do the second 12 miles all on his own!

As an aside, thank goodness for our wonderful equine vet. Not only did he help me make a decision about Parker, which on the one hand was easy given his condition, on the other was very hard after three month’s training. He also gave me the confidence to push Polo on round the rest of the course, having declared him a “jolly fit little pony”. Polo came come in after 25 miles with a heart rate lower than when he came in at 18 miles – probably because we had to lead him the last kilometre pulling only half a carriage – but that’s yet another story…

Now Polo surprised and delighted me. Once he realised that for once I was not going to be soft enough to give into his pretence of being too tired to trot, he got into a truly focused groove. He was flying across the (very rough) ground in our little 2-wheeler, helped no doubt by the fact that it weighs virtually nothing and is on pneumatics, so was absorbing all the ruts (bliss for the crew!).

So fast was he going, that the dogs had to canter to keep up with this flying trot. And they could sense there was some urgency. Oh, I neglected to mention that there had been some confusion about the time remaining to us. We could take no chances and had to get round the last six miles in 80 minutes, when we had been planning on 100. Twenty minutes is a lot of time when you’re 11.2hh!

Half way round the circuit, with three miles or so to go, Fenris picked up on Polo’s energy and concentration and fell in beside him where Parker would normally be. There he stayed for much of the next couple of miles, every few moments glancing up at Polo seemingly urging him on. It was quite extraordinary (especially from a dog that usually keeps his distance from the horses). In the end, his sister Freya noticed what was going on, and she too started cantering along on the other side of Polo doing the same. Now it might be that they just got excited by the speed and thought it was a jolly game. But the way they behaved and the look on their faces made me think they knew the stakes were high and we all had to pull together as a team.

Some of you are blessed with Dalmatians that naturally want to stick their noses under a carriage and require little training and encouragement to do it. Well please spare a thought for those of us with dogs whose instinct is to blaze the trail. Our job is hard indeed in today’s modern competition! But what a good team we make when the chips are down.

Spots and Spokes – from the British Driving Society Journal 1990 by Elizabeth Ansell

Elizabeth and Dotti

Dotti came to us when she was 8 weeks old as a family pet, but at the back of my mind was the vague hope that she might, eventually, be trained for carriage driving in the traditional manner for Dalmatians, running between the wheels and under the axle of a vehicle. I felt the idea would be difficult to put into practice and probably the most we could hope for was a sort of mascot accompanying us sitting in the dogcart at rallies and the like. How wrong can you be? Dotti, of course, was thoroughly used to horses at the stables but, until she was a year old, we did not suggest to her that she might like to run with us when driving. When the time came, she immediately placed herself in the correct position under the dogcart and trotted at the horse’s heels round the field. She loved the whole idea and gradually got to accompany us to shows and rallies, and became extremely fit, trotting up to ten to fifteen miles – in fact when we suggested she may be feeling tired and would like a lift in the cart she would become most indignant!

Elizabeth and Dotti

My husband made her a special collar of black patent leather brass-mounted and with a brass rumble-bell so I could hear she was still running under the cart. She was very proud of this and knew when wearing it she was “on duty”.

Dotti’s first summer driving season culminated in the large British Timken Show B.D.S. Annual Meet in 1977 when the turnout qualified for the Hermes Concours d’Elegance competition at the Horse of the Year show – she became the first dog to qualify for a major equestrian event! The crowd in the Wembley Arena loved her and she really played to the gallery. We were only highly commended but she did get to appear on television.

The following year Dotti was invited to attend the first British Dog Fair at Hickstead for the special carriage dog performance class, where she was judged Champion British Carriage Dog, with much acclaim from the dog show world who were most impressed with her display and subsequently she received fan mail from various Dalmatian societies around the world!

Sadly, Dotti died aged 13 ½ and is much missed by all her many friends and admirers.

The CDT Training Weekend – March 2006

Participants at the training weekend in March 2006

by Anne Marie Scott

Our first training weekend, how exciting! Having watched the trials last year, I was really inspired to give the road trials a go this year. So I bought a ‘sensible’ type horse last August, husband started up the weekly training sessions again at the local dog classes and we started to ride out together.

Participants at the training weekend in March 2006

Unfortunately this is much harder for my husband on a bicycle going over rough ground whilst the dog and horse canter along quite happily! With the bad weather (ice and mud) we have had very little practice this year. So this weekend was a great opportunity to push on with the training.

Day 1, the motivational training day. What fun – but goodness was I exhausted at the end of it. Getting the dog to listen to you and return to you in a room full of Dalmatians (oh, and honorary “spotties” Sheltie and Collie) was what I expected to be a nightmare. But all dogs were so well behaved, and even when a dog was off the lead doing their “thing”, they always returned to the handler with wagging tails. Even with the temptation of a kitchen with some yummy goodies on show only tempted the odd dog away temporarily. What can I say, that trainer was a miracle worker!

Alas at the end of the training day Harvey and I returned to Reading (for a Birthday and to feed a horse!) Missed by Anne Marie on the Saturday evening, but attended by 40 local drivers and historians, was a fascinating slide show by Joy Claxton on the history of carriages from Elizabeth to Elizabeth. Harvey, with Anne-Marie riding her mare Dolly, warming up for the obedience test in 2006

Harvey, with Anne-Marie riding her mare Dolly, warming up for the obedience test in 2006

Day 2 – instinct test. Up early again but what a beautiful location and such a lovely day. The first hour was about getting your horse fit, how to present to a vet and what to be aware off when doing long rides. This was really helpful, even if it was simple a case of re-iterating what you already knew. It is always nice to know you are doing something right!

Next we moved onto the actual dog, horse and carriage. After everyone agreeing that we wanted Alison’s gorgeous pony, (and being amazed at what a wonderful lorry he got to go in by himself!) we headed off to a local cross country course. Well we were warned that there were going to be loose sheep around…luckily though they were far enough away not to cause any distraction.

(I don’t think distraction from sheep is part of the Bronze test!) For the people practicing the road trials, well there were a few hiccups and perhaps we were asking a bit too much of the dogs too quickly in a new environment. However the people trying out with the carriages, well I was certainly jealous! They all looked super and really at home with what they were doing.

For Harvey and I, we had to go then, but what a wonderful weekend, really well organised and certainly one of the most enjoyable times I have had of recent.

Thank you all.

For information on training your Dalmatian click here