Barn Hunt sounded like such a good and fun idea, but for me, it was not my thing at all. For starters, it is a naked sport, meaning no collars or leashes. Right there I could sense trouble as I am a respectable hound!
What does Barn Hunt entail?
I did get lucky in the whole scheme of things as Bailie had to go one more day than I did, and she had to do one more search too. If you are new to the sport, Barn Hunt is all about finding a rat in a tube buried in bales of hay. There are all kinds of rules and levels. Titles except for Instinct are also AKC recognized. Bailie and I tried for our Instinct and Novice Titles over the weekend.
Introduction to Barn Hunt
If you are going to try the sport, I highly recommend you go to an intro session like Mom and Bailie did. Bailie got to meet a rate in a metal cage, and then in the tube. They learned about the basic rules, and what to expect in a trial too. The three tubes on the board are the same ones used for the instinct testing, one is empty, one has only litter, and one has a rat. Bailie said rats are pretty cool and she would like to catch one.
The Instinct Test
The above photo is an instinct test course. Instinct courses are always the same. They include a short, straight tunnel, hay bales arranged in the same way, and in the space on the right the board with the three tubes is placed for the test. The only requirement from the dog is to point out the rat.
Unfortunately, I’d never met a rat before. I love to hunt, but I always know what I’m hunting for, so imagine my shock when I rounded the hay bale in my instinct test and smelled a rat! Yep, I was scared out of my fur. I did not like the situation at all! My mom has lost her marbles thinking I’m going to to any closer to those things on the board! I definitely smell a rat in this game!
That was it for me with Barn Hunt. I refused to go near the tubes and subsequently failed my instinct test. I don’t know why anyone would want to get involved with these creepy critters in tubes! The only positive point were the hay bales I could use to shield myself from that evil rat!
What about the rats?
If you are a lover of rats, there is no need to worry. Seriously, Barn Hunt takes better care of the rats than the dogs it seems. There are very strict rules about rat treatment. The rats being used are actual house pets and have been used for the sport before. It is almost like a rat union as they can only be out so long, bedding has to be fresh, dogs have to stay a minimum of ten feet from where their cages are, all kinds of stuff. No rats are harmed at all! There is even a specific person assigned to tend to the rats for the entire trial.
The Novice Test
The Novice Test includes a bit more than just finding the rat within the two minute time limit. The three tubes are hidden on the course, and the dog must find the tube with the rat, they must pass through the tunnel, and they must get all four paws on a hay bale. There are other rules as well about not touching your dog, humans not touching the straw, lots of rules, too many to get into. But, the first thing is to get naked as soon as the gate is closed. So there I was, front and center…naked…and a creepy rat was hiding somewhere…not a good situation in my opinion!
I did not run the course, I slowly and methodically carried myself between the bales of hay, stopping to sniff on occasion. I refused to crawl into the tunnel, I refused to put my precious paws on the hay, and I refused to smell any tubes because there might be a rat in one! It was a very long two minutes for both Mom and me. I failed, but Mom says at least I tried. I returned again the second day and had to do this terrible procedure two more times, and I only got worse according to Mom. Barn Hunt is not my sport. I can’t wait to get back to Nose Work!
Bailie didn’t pass her tests on the first day either. I was hoping we could just call it done at that point, but no, we had to return the second day when it was 97, yes 97 degrees out, dew point in the 70’s, and big wind. Dirt was blowing everywhere. Bailie wasn’t bothered by the, in my opinion, deplorable conditions. She raced out first thing and passed her Instinct Test to get her RATI Title. I’m thinking I prefer not having the word RAT in my title at all! She messed up her first novice run and Mom learned when the judge says “climb”, it sounds like “time”. Mom thought the run was done, but she still had time left as the word was climb, so no pass there. The second novice run Bailie did pass with second place in her class, so she has one of the three legs for a title.
At the end of the day…
After those three days of Barn Hunt, Mom has decided I’m done, Bailie will continue. She enjoys playing around on the hay and she likes rats. Before they try for their other two legs, Mom wants to do some work with Bailie and rats. The problem Bailie has is she somehow doesn’t connect the rat with the rat in the tube and that needs to happen for her to have success. In September they plan to work on that as the next trial is in October. When Bailie realizes the rat is in the tube, she goes wild and makes such loud hunting calls everyone comes a running. I get embarrassed! Congrats to my little rat of a sister, and I wish her luck in the future while I stay home and patrol the yard for wabbits!
Just in case you don’t believe any of this, I’m posting the miserable results. Such an embarrassment!
Congrats Bailie!!! And well done Emma, sometimes girls have to make decisions… not all peeps in france like RATatouille and not all french scent dogs like rats :o)
I’m in the no rats club now. Didn’t like that sport at all, but Bailie seems to like it.
Sparkle the PBGV says
I am not sure what a rat is, but the mom totally agrees with you, Emma. How embarrassed can they make a girl…getting naked in front of strangers? I might like that, but you are such a lady. Have a nice weekend. XOXO Sparkle
It was definitely not the sport for me, so I rocked at nose work this week to remind my mom what my sport is. Bailie can have that rat!
Ellen Shedlarz says
I think your mother has gone crazy. I think she needs a new hobby like knitting. If she wants to find rats tell her to move to New York and just walk you on any street. We try and stay away from them not find them
I will leave rat hunting to Mom and Bailie. Maybe I should move to NY, it is a fashion capital and I am into fashion. I am also good at avoiding those rats.
That’s an interesting event. I’m glad Balie did well, but I would have been like you Emma. And I would bet Torrey would be the same.
It was frightening not knowing where that scary rat might be hiding and then to think my own mother wanted me to get my nose close to it. Not my thing.
Two French Bulldogs says
Wow, looks fun and challenging
Lily & Edward
It isn’t really that challenging if you know what a rat smells like, but I didn’t like it at all. Once Bailie makes that connection to the rat, we think she will do well.
M. K. Clinton says
I think Pierre would LOVE it but there are none close to us. ?
Just another reason to relocate Barking from the Bayou to Barking from Minnesota 😉 They are not real close here either, it was about an 80 min drive each way for us and the next one is over an hour as well.
Emma! This is a hilarious post. You made mom laugh a lot. And, she agrees with you completely. Naked? bales of hay to climb on? rats??? no thank you, she says. She loves how much of a princess you are. Good work knowing what you like!! your doodle friend Dash
Mom says we need to experience lots of things but not everything will be a good fit. This was a horrible fit for me.
Not to worry, I would gladly catch some rats for you!
We wish cat bro Bert could compete as he is a big hunter of mice. I’m sure he’d love to grab a rat.
Spencer the Goldendoodle says
So much fun! What a wonderful new sport for Bailie! I did a double take to make sure I read it right, they used live rats. Gross. Emma, you are more of a Rabbit girl!!! 🙂
Oh yes, live rats! Very frightening for me! Sometimes they move, make noise or things like that. Bailie can have all the rats.
Wow..rats and hay, sounds like something Arty might like. I totally agree with you though, Emma, rats sound a bit scary and going nekkid?? Not this gal!
Well, when Mom says you have to do it, you have to do it. I tried it, didn’t like it. Bailie will do the hunting for us both from now on.
Genevieve Petrillo says
I am 1,000% with you, E. Finding rats is NOT for me. Congratulations to Bailie. She is off to a raging start. I think you made the right decisions.
Love and licks,
It’s always good to have an open mind, but rats are definitely not my thing!
Jan K says
Emma, you are a very talented dog, but you can’t be good at and enjoy everything! Good for you for at least giving it some tries anyway. We think Bailie is more of a free spirit than you are, so it’s not totally surprising that she enjoys getting naked and climbing around in dirt, heat and straw sniffing out a rat!
You have a good read on us! Mom wanted us both to at least try, so I did, but I’m done!
Ann Staub says
Oh well Emma. At least you gave it a try! You never know if you’ll like something until you try it. Glad to hear those rats are treated well. Good luck to Bailie in her rat hunting career!
We thought of you with the well cared for rats. They really do have it good!
That is a strange sport Emma. Mica would be like you she would not even want to go in to the barn. Congrats to Bailie for passing one and enjoying the sport.
There are sports for everyone, but this one was not for me. I tried, but not going to do it again.
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Sorry you didn’t like it Emma but not everything is for everyone. Glad bailie liked it and will continue on, congrats on the first pass.
We are very similar, but we do have out differences.
You had us howling!! Congrats Bailie!! Emma we totally understand! Smiles, Barks & Wagging Tails, Denise & ~Shasta
Glad you were amused, as I was definitely not. At least I did give it a whirl, but it is not my sport at all!
My Golden Life says
Congrats to Bailie! I’m with you, Emma – I have no desire to hunt down a rat, either. Ewwwww!
They scared me! Not my sport at all, but Bailie might have more success and she had fun.
Tails Around the Ranch says
Rat wranglers? Yeah, no…we’re with you on this one, Emma but send kudos to your sister.
Amazingly, my mom has no fear of rats either. She actually did the rat wrangler job a few times over the weekend. No thanks. I prefer to stay home.
SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) says
I don’t blame you for not liking the rats Emma…not very ladylike are they?
They are scary critters that hide in tubes in hay. Not my thing at all!
Jodi Stone says
I thought about trying Delilah on Barn Hunt, but I’m afraid I couldn’t get her AWAY from the rat. She loves all little things that move and I think it might smell too much like a Chippie to her!
That is what Mom expected from me too, but it isn’t really moving as it is buried in the hay in the tube. It was weird. Bailie went all wild when she figured out a critter was in the tube in the hay. People could hear her hunting calls all over in the barn!
Katie J. Ewing says
Looks fun ! Congratulations to Bailie ! I don’t think thay used live rat! OMG!
Groovy Goldendoodles says
As long as the rats remain in the crate I can deal with it. You both are impressing us all! Good job!
I would be more interested if they were running around, but that isn’t going to happen. Bailie is seeming to come to grips with them being inaccessible.