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Gundog Handlers

Ryan Hoggan

Name of dog: Rosie      

Why have you chosen this particular dog to compete with?

Rosie from day one has always been a team player.  She is always eager to please and is a pleasure to be out with. A bit of a softy she enjoys her cuddles and getting fussed over but just totally switches on especially while hunting game.

Do you use your dog as part of your work or is it purely for trialling as a hobby ?  If so, how? 

For me trialling is a hobby although I do work all my dogs on the shoot that I stay on. Living on a shooting estate is a fantastic training aid especially when I’m at the stage of introducing the dog to live game. I will not use my trialling dogs too much on the shoot days because in my opinion with the amount of game they see on each drive, they can sometimes not watch the bird away in effect failing to mark a potentially shot bird in a trial situation. Walked up days suit my dogs better purely because in a trial that is what we are replicating.

What has your dog achieved?

Rosie has achieved a fair amount of success in tests. She won her very first puppy test at the Forth and Clyde Gundog Association summer test. After that she gained more wins at Puppy level before progressing on to novice tests. Unfortunately her first novice test ended in a bit of a disaster. Lack of experience and maturity held her back.

After a little work I entered her into the puppy class at the Central Scotland Gundog clubs summer tests which she won so then I entered her into the next event which was novice and she won that also. I have to say it was a double-edged sword because I was supposed to run at the Scottish Gamefair at Scone Palace, Perth, in the novice class, but because we had won a novice test unfortunately we lost her run. However I was really happy with her that day she really did well.

This season 2018/19 will be Rosie’s first season trialling so fingers crossed she does well. There are a lot of really class dogs out there so it will be a challenge but I’m sure we will enjoy ourselves no matter what the result. 

What is your dog ‘like’? eg. Temperament, pushy, soft, style of working, etc.

I seem to do better with the softer dogs. I know a lot of people who trial dogs like the kind of dogs that have a bit of devilment in them but I struggle to bond with them. For me a dog needs to want to please me and do the job. I like a pup that will hunt naturally and have a nice tail action and quick on their feet, after all a spaniels job first and foremost is to hunt or quest for game.

How did you ‘find’ this dog? ie. Home bred?  Bought in as a pup?  Bought in as a started/trained youngster?

I bought Rosie as a puppy at 8 weeks from a really well known and good friend John Howden. John owns Rosie’s mother Caulliechat Primose AKA Mia. Mia competed in the 2015 English springer spaniel championship and gained the award of best hunting Spaniel of the championship. Rosie's Father is Field Trial Champion Wyndhill Brett of Stagsden AKA Sam. Sam is a well-known stud dog who has run at numerous championships and is owned by Alec Coutts.

What qualities do you look for in a dog and what did you spot in this particular dog?

In my mind a dog needs to want to be with you and have a good bond, and a good natural hunter. Rosie done both of these. I could see she was pretty quick on her feet and she loved being around me which ticked my 2 biggest boxes. I have to say though Rosie’s litter was an exceptional one and to pick one from the litter was pretty hard.  John Howden done a first class job.

Are there any things you particularly dislike seeing in a dog?

A dishonest dog. A dog that will just do as it pleases and no matter how much you blow your whistle it just totally ignores you. For me that’s a big dislike, they need to be team players.

What if any particular breeding lines / dogs do you like? Do you try to ‘stick’ to them and if so, how?

There’s nothing in particular I really go for all the time. If I like the dog’s pedigree that’s enough for me. I tend to always go for something with a good bitch line because I feel that’s what really comes through the pups.

When did you become involved in gundog trials? Why? How?

I have always had dogs from a young age I would take my dad’s dogs out and claim them as my own much to my dad’s amusement. I always enjoyed working them on shoots and then I met Eddie Scott at my local shoot and got to know what trialling was from some of the lads. So I went to some tests with an old springer bitch called Millie and from then on I was hooked.

I would spend my nights watching old trialling championships and stud dog clips. I always remember watching David Lisett’s promotional clip of FTCH Buccleuch Pepper and thinking wow if I get a dog that does half the stuff he does I would be delighted. I have an old bitch in the kennel just now Bostonmoor Battle-axe AKA Mollie. She was the first dog I ever trialled with. I gained 2 certificates of merits with her and a 2nd in novice stakes – that’s what really lit the fire for trialling for me.

Difficulties or challenges you faced?

The biggest challenge I have and still face is finding areas where I can shoot game over my dogs. Even though I live on a shoot which is great I don’t think the gamekeeper would appreciate me shooting his pheasants. So I need to pay for training days or rely on invites to walked-up days.

Who, if anyone in the trialling world, was/has been the biggest influence on you and in what ways?

Andrew Cunningham better known as Spam has always been a great influence on me. Spam is a very well respected trainer and handler and is always bringing out top class dogs as well as being an A panel judge. He has really helped me, not just with the dogs but also for me to mature as a handler and a person.

The trialling community is a very close knit one and sometimes it’s hard to get advice or pointers. Spam has always helped me out and for that I am very grateful for.

Another man who has helped me out a lot is Bill Leonard. Bill sells me my CSJ dog food and many nights I have went to pick up food and stood talking for ages about past experiences and times with the dogs. Bill was an A panel judge also and competed at the championships many times. Any questions I have Bill has always given me really good sound advice which again I’m very grateful for.

Your own successes?

I am still pretty new to the trialling scene and still finding my feet. I have had a fair bit of success at tests, a bitch I had previously in the kennel won a puppy test and also won the Galloway Gamefair novice test before I sold her on to a gamekeeper up north. Rosie has won a lot of tests for me but still hasn’t won an open test so that’s on the list.

I’m hoping she does well in trialling as I said above she is a very keen dog on game so fingers crossed. Mollie had the best result for me so far at trials with a 2nd place at Sorn Castle, Ayreshire, held by the South West Scotland Gundog Association but she is an old girl now so she enjoys the finer things in life now.

Best moment/s?

I have to say probably the best moment I have had to date is winning the puppy and novice test on the same day with Rosie and the Central Scotland sundog club’s summer test held at Glamis Castle in Perthshire.

Winning was fantastic but what made it better for me is that my dad was there that day. That was his first time coming and watching me at a test and to win both in front of him was a good feeling. Hopefully there will be more days like that preferably at the trials, it really makes the travelling, time and money all worth it.

‘Worst’ or most embarrassing moment/s!!?

God there is so many! The thing with me was initially I wasn't getting anywhere but every time I competed I learned something I didn’t know previously. Little things like wind direction or setting my dog up for a retrieve I would and still do make those mistakes pretty regular. Nothing worse making a simple retrieve look like a mission especially in-front of the lads and ladies who have been doing it for so long and told you countless times.

In your experience has trialling changed much since you started?  If yes, in what ways?

It would be unfair for me to really comment on that. Ask me again in 5/10 years.

Is there any dog – past or present – that you would love to have had?

FTCH Hattonswood Broc who is the sire of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Buccleuch Pepper. Broc from what I have watched of him in old championship dvds was a real powerhouse of a dog but still really quick on his feet.

FTCH Edwardiana Rob who was owned by Mr Andrew Cunningham (Spam) was an exceptional dog and you can see him in a lot of real quality pedigrees. He was a real legend of a dog so who wouldn’t have wanted him in the kennel at home.  Present day I have really took a shine to FTCH Bishwell Blackmagic of Breckmarsh AKA Henry owned by mr Lee Cooper.  Henry was awarded 2nd place and Top Dog in the 2017 English Springer Spaniel Championship at Byrds Retreat in Eveham, England.  

Why that dog?

Bishwell Blackmagic of Breckmarsh for me is a real looker, how a dog should look in my opinion, just the right size and can hunt  - I mean seriously hunt - with pace and bags of style and yet controllable. I am hopefully going to have a litter with Rosie next year and he is definitely in the top two dogs I’m hoping to sire Rosie’s first litter and my first litter of ClovaFife spaniels. ClovaFife is my KC Affix 

What are your future trialling ambitions?

For me its making to the championship and making a dog up to a FTCH. If I was to accomplish that I would be ecstatic. For me that’s my ultimate goal.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out now?

I don’t get hung up on “why is my dog not doing this he or she is a year old it should surely be able to do that” that for me is the worst mistake people make and what they need to remember is every dog is different just like people, we mature and learn all at different stages. Believe me I learned that the hard way with my first ever cocker bitch. Take your time.

Any other interesting information (that you can ‘share’!)?

When I’m not out with dogs you will more than likely find me in my local Karate club. I started Karate when I was around 8 years old and achieved my black belt when I was 12. I have also been lucky enough to compete for Scotland at European and world level.

I was the 2 time Scottish junior champion and was also 2nd in the European championships twice. I left Karate for a number of years which was probably the worst mistake of my life. However I have been back for a while now and it’s like I have never been away. I’m looking forward to continuing to progress at karate and trialling. 



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