2018-01-10 / Front Page

A crown regained


Ike Todd, a professional dog handler, is pictured here with Bob, just one of the many dogs that he trains. 
DIANA ROYAL Ike Todd, a professional dog handler, is pictured here with Bob, just one of the many dogs that he trains. DIANA ROYAL A sixth generation handler, Ike Todd credits birds with helping develop his love for dogs.

At five years old, Todd took to the vast fields that spread across Montana and has been wild bird hunting ever since. Now, at 35, he’s one of the youngest professional trainers in the circuit and is consistently capturing field trial championships. In fact, his first major circuit win was right here in Waynesboro.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he says with a wide grin, thinking back on the Georgia Derby Championship title he cinched with Memphis May. “It was my second year here. You go from being a nobody to winning. Ricky Ferney made a big deal out of it and kind of broke the ice.” Todd has found his way back to Burke County every year since, even though he’s limited his trials traveling to give more time to training and taking online college courses in animal science. “It’s prestigious, and always has been,” he says.

Just last week, Todd took the Derby Championship again, this time with Touch’s Gallatin Fire. The dog’s owners, Alex and Bryana Rickert who are from Todd’s hometown of Bozeman, Mont., were along for the ride.

Though he’s one of the youngest trainer/ handlers, Todd is far from a novice; he started training dogs for the public around the age of 15 and his résumé boasts a national championship from 2011. He’s also won the prominent Purina Award for garnering the most points in a season.

Nell Mobley, who serves as the Georgia Field Trial Association secretary and organizer for the Burke County trials, commends Todd for his enthusiasm and said his generation is what will keep the sport going.

“He’s an ambitious young trainer with a big future to look forward to,” she says. “He’s a real gentleman of the sport and is always excited to be here.”

In the off season, Todd works the dogs and explains training is about much more than finding birds.

“You’ve got to socialize them,” he says. “Pet them. Spend time with them and get them out in the field as much possible. You have to socialize them with the horses. The dog watches the horse to see which way to go. It really is a team effort.”

Todd also says that bird hunting should come naturally to the dogs. “Our job is to help them not mess up,” he says, explaining that means to hold restraint while pointing birds and not break stance. “You have to treat them with respect. If they’re not happy (the dog or the horse) they are not going to do a good job. Just like with humans.”

And to put it simple, the best trainers simply love the sport, he says. “If they don’t like it, they’ll quit. But if they love it, they’ll find a way to do it.”


The Georgia Derby Classic will get underway at 8 a.m. this morning (Wednesday). Twenty-seven dogs were drawn for the competition. At its conclusion, the Georgia Open Shooting Dog Championship will begin, with 58 dogs contending for the title.

See 1B for results from the Georgia Derby Championship and the Georgia Quail Championship held last week.

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