Humans, pigeons and apes 3
In part one and two, we saw that pigeons want to be together and stay together, but because we organize races with them they have to separate to get home and that can cause problems.
Qualities like orientation and self confidence to leave the flock and fly a route home alone are important factors at races.
More important than 'flying faster than others'.
Some pigeons have these good qualities already in their genes while others have a lot less. The question is, are we totally dependent on these genes?
In other words, can we develop the abilities of orientation and self confidence, so that the pigeons can benefit from them in a race?
The answer could be to train them intensively, like you have to train for everything to acquire skills.
Which brings us to tossing.
Many foreign fanciers put a lot of effort in training flights in between races.
And who does not do the same cannot compete.
In the Algarve (Portugal) Vargues started with the pigeon sport five years ago. This owner of restaurants and bars had reportedly spent 3 million Euro on pigeons, all bought in Belgium.
English and especially American fanciers buy their pigeons mainly in Holland, Portugese fanciers in Belgium.
I cannot believe that he really spent 3 million Euro on pigeons, but that he spent a lot is a fact.
And in 2008, barely three years later, Vargues became National Champion Middle-distance in Portugal.
Does this prove that you really can buy success, that you do not have to be a good fancier when you have money enough?
It is not that simple.
Previously he had been successful with horses and dogs.
According to Vargues himself he became champion because of good quality pigeons, affinity with and feeling for animals, and above all ... lots and lots of training.
People have to train to get results and the same applies to horses, dogs, dolphins and so on.
Why would it be any different with pigeons? he said.
Once a week he takes his pigeons 150 km away for a training flight.
Apparently with great success.
He makes me think of the Hungarian fancier Grampsch.
He had always been successful. Then he retired, in 2009 he brought his pigeons 150 km away for training flights twice a week, and he won all.
Is intensive training by car a must then to win?
If you would have to go out with the pigeons once or twice every week in order to achieve anything, half of all fanciers would stop with the sport.
Think of all the traffic and the fanciers that (still) have a job.
Many here can join in this conversation.
In their zeal to achieve they too did everything for the sport, including a lot of driving, but most of them have stopped doing it.
They did not see any result coming from it, but ...
We are talking about OLD pigeons here.
Why does driving work in other countries and not in Holland and Belgium or a lot less?
In no other country pigeons have such a flat journey home as here (here being Holland).
In other countries they have to 'break', which means the flock has to divide at obstacles like hills and lakes.
And apparently you can train pigeons to make good decisions in these occasions.
Driving with YOUNG pigeons in Holland and Belgium is a different story altogether.
As I see it they are one of the best of Belgium at the speed races, especially with young pigeons. Just invincible.
Almost all fanciers claim to race in a combination where competition is fierce.
But Stickers-Donckers REALLY seek out the strongest competitors, which in Antwerp is the famous 'Tienverbond'.
No one else wins as many first prizes and their prize percentage is dizzying.
Are their pigeons as superior as their performances let us believe?
There is no doubt that they have quality pigeons, but there is more.
To win 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 etc in a race of just 50 km from Vilvoorde, as they do, can not only be due to the quality of their pigeons. There is more to it than that, and these champions know that.
They honestly say that they do a lot of driving with the young pigeons for training flights.
Therefore I think that a combination of expertise, a lot of training and of course good pigeons are the key to their unreal success.
Their results with old pigeons show that quality is a defining factor too, and training seems less important here.
Jos G lives in Limburg, Holland. He races super at long distance and his greatest fear is to lose his young pigeons.
Therefore they are, do not be startled, not trained at all.
They go in the racing basket straight away and ... there are almost no youngsters lost. But he does not achieve much with them either, apart from the odd exception.
But those youngsters are of good quality they prove that as old pigeons.
It is not in my nature to offend, therefore I will not name any names, but take my word for it that all those fanciers who claim to have top results with youngsters that have almost not been trained are not super champions but super liars.
I am not talking about long-distance races but about those who get top results especially in the first races with youngsters, which of course are speed-races.
After a few races, when the other pigeons also have more experience, the advantage of training disappears.
In Tilburg, Turnhout and some other regions in Belgium the 'late breeds' have races of their own.
In the summer they are released together with the older, more experienced youngsters, and the results show that the differences are painful.
Some competitions take about 6 minutes to fill the result with 'normal early' youngsters, with summer youngsters it can take half an hour or longer.
Draw your own conclusions.
Therefore, if speed racing with young pigeons is important to you, train them!
The distances do not have to be all that far, up to about 35 km is enough, but you are really at a disadvantage with youngsters that have not trained enough.
If it is for some reason not possible to train them?
Take part in the longer distances or in the races with old pigeons. The battle with youngsters is lost even before you begin.
These champions have very good quality pigeons of course, I said that earlier.
But you always need good quality pigeons, no matter what. In races from 50 km and from 1,000 km, with a tail wind and with a head wind.
And those Dutch fanciers who claim that their success on the long-distance is also due to taking the old pigeons 300 km away for training flights?
I do not know.