Unlike most sequel events, Beagle Hunt II turned out to be slightly better than the first event.
Jamie and Jemma got into the swing of the rush of the pack from the start line. But when the pack broke up to search for the scent trail, they lost the plot and returned back to the waiting line of owners.
But this time Jamie and Jemma did disappear for longer in the knee high grass. And they did not seek me out immediately which means that the apron strings are slowly loosening. This needs to happen said the more experienced owners: the realisation that it is OK to leave MABeagle for a while.
Meanwhile I casually asked other owners for more winning tips (I had to be subtle because some owners are quite competitive!). The champions Roti and Poppadom had first been trained at home by playing hide and seek. Dad would make a big fuss and go and hide until Mom eventually let them go to seek out their master. Then on the hunt, Dad made a big fuss of his dogs and made sure they saw him leaving with the party that was laying the scent trail. So they knew that he had gone ahead and had to find him.
Some one else advised me to find a consistent finisher whose pace matched that of your own beagle. Stick your beagle next to the more experienced beagle at the start line in the hopes that they would stay together until the finish.
Fitness definitely plays a role if one wants to keep up with top dogs like Roti and Poppadom who get exercise every day. Their Dad also confided that they had been a bit overweight (typical of beagles) and when they lost a few kilograms, their speed increased. These two cleaned up again winning every heat. So if one is prepared to put the time into training them, your dogs can catch on faster.
Jamie and I broke the rules by crossing the start line before the horn was sounded. I was not concentrating and in the melee he slipped out of my grasp. He would have been disqualified not only for a false start but for distracting the other beagles. But the fact that he was a total non starter got him off the hook. He casually wandered off to the side to lift his leg. He was so busy doing his business that it took him a while to realise that the pack had left him in their dust! Luckily, as a newcomer his race bib does not bear his name yet. So when this happened a second time, I quietly disowned him.
One of the organisers who comes regularly has a beagle called Snoopy. He is yet to finish a heat and yet they still keep coming. That's what I call dedication. For some it is not about winning or even finishing, just having fun. There were a lot of new faces and I saw some bibs with numbers up in the 80's so there are a lot of members. But an average of about 20 to 30 beagles show up regularly. When it gets colder and more difficult to get up in the dark, it will be interesting to see who will hang in there (including yours truly). I think I need to pull finger and try and do some more home training before the next hunt. But there is a whole season of winter months ahead to see what happens.
Next time around they are arranging a "koeksuster" tea after the hunt. This South African sweet sticky treat will go down very well on a cold winter's day after getting up at 5.00am with nothing but a cup of coffee in the stomach!