Barn Hunt

Barn Hunt was developed by its founder, Robin Nuttall. She wanted a sport that would test her Miniature Pinschers’ ability to hunt for vermin which is what they were originally bred for.

First and foremost, the welfare of the rats is top priority!

We say if the rats are not happy the trial does not happen. They are conditioned to be around the dogs. They know they are safe in the specially designed roomy tubes that are hidden among the bales of hay. Rats are incredibly smart and they are well aware that they cannot be harmed. When they are found they are removed immediately and to coin a phrase —handled with kid gloves!

So that is the premise for Barn Hunt. Specially designed courses with bales of hay stacked and laid out in a course, rats in their special tubes hidden among the bales of hay. The handler and dog have to find the rats. This involves several skill levels which entitle the dog and handler to title certificates once that level is achieved.

Please visit the National Barn Hunt Association web page for a more detailed explanation and also the rules and procedures for a trial.

So how did Saratoga NY Kennel Club become involved in this performance sport?

About 9 years ago, a few club members brought the idea of hosting a trial to our club.

Marcia Barss was the key person. Sadly, we lost Marcia just before our first trial. The majority of the cost of our ring gating was donated in her honor by her sister and club member Linda McConnell and the rest was donated by other generous people through a GoFundMe drive. Another member who was also a driving force was Eileen Keegan. She became our first trial secretary and advised us that all we needed was a barn, hay, and some rats! Sounded simple enough! We owe so much of our club’s success with barn hunt to Eileen’s hard work on those first trials.

The inspiration, enthusiasm, and devotion of these members enabled our club to become a multi trial hosting club. Fortunately, we currently have a dedicated barn hunt committee running the great trials we have today!

We have 2 trials per year, normally the first weekend in May and Columbus Day weekend in October.

Our trials are listed under our events page and the event page on

We look forward to experiencing this exciting sport with you and your dogs.