What is the Open Class in Barn Hunt? After earning their Novice Titles, my sisters automatically moved up to the Open Class. Most of the time if you are entered in more trials at one level and you earn a title, you can move up to the next class for the rest of the trials. Madison was on fire all weekend, and really got into finding the rats at any level!
The Open Class has some new challenges for dogs. There are now two rats to be found in 2 1/2 minutes, plus climbing on a bale, and going through the tunnel, which is now longer, and an “L” shape, to get a qualifying run. Another challenge is that one rat must be hidden at ground level, and the other must be elevated. Mom forgot this, which cost Bailie a qualifying run her first try.
Madison had a chance to do two runs at the new level and qualified on both. She needs one more for her RATO Title. Bailie had three runs, and earned one qualifying run. They both placed on each of their qualifying runs too!
The video above is Bailie’s qualifying run, a friend took for us. Bailie did a really nice job, and you can see how she didn’t like having her “prize” removed from the ring! There are strict rules about rats which Mom must follow. Rat tubes can’t be roughed up too much by a dog. If the handler removes the tube, it must be kept level at all times. Dogs can’t “attack” rat wranglers. Mom prefers to gently hold my sisters back while someone else removes the tube if possible.
Madison sure has a blast racing around sniffing for rats! She too finds it a real shame the rat is taken away after she works so hard to find it. Another rule in Barn Hunt is you can’t touch your dog unless they just found the rat. It is hard to not grab Madison when she isn’t listening, but it is not allowed.
This photo was Madison right after her first Open Class run with her second place qualification. It looks like the rat crew will be taking a break for a couple months. They will now spend their time practicing for tracking, in the hope of getting into a test in May or June. We also all have a lot Nose Work Trials coming up in the next couple months. I’m sure they will continue to sniff out rats after their tracking break. With practice, they really seem to have learned the goal of the game, and they love it.
**Photo of Madison with rat tube was purchased from Cheetah Swift Photography for our use.**