Lessons from ‘a beginner’

Pigeon Racing fancier Hein Rheeder is a member of the Southern Suburbs Specialist Club under the banner of the Golden Reef Pigeon Association. After nine years in pigeon racing he still refers to himself as a beginner, because he believes there’s still a lot to learn.
Issue date: 20 March 2009

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Pigeon Racing fancier Hein Rheeder is a member of the Southern Suburbs Specialist Club under the banner of the Golden Reef Pigeon Association. After nine years in pigeon racing he still refers to himself as a beginner, because he believes there’s still a lot to learn.

Hein started out in the sport in a partnership with Abel van Heerden on the West Rand in 2001. One of the highlights of this partnership was when they came second in the Points League Championships to the late Alec Nagel, a renowned champion. After moving to the south in 2006, Hein had to start afresh with only two pigeons.

Read and learn
Hein lives by the motto “read and learn” and recommends the following books to fellow fanciers: Healthy Pigeons by Dr L Schrag – probably one of the most important books on pigeon health in the world and the most widely read; The Classic Collections of Old Hand, a compilation of aspects of pigeon racing by European pigeon writers; and Born to Win and Fit to Win, written by Dr Wim Peters, a renowned South African veterinarian and pigeon fancier.
“The minute you think you know it all, you know nothing,” says Hein. ”Show me a fancier who doesn’t score in pigeon sport and you’ve met a man who doesn’t read.”

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Do and learn
In the early days, Hein joined a circle of friends from pigeon sport and they held workshops at home, where a fancier would bring his best pair of breeding pigeons as well as top racers from his loft, and the group would be able to examine them. Hein says this was a learning curve for him and his first important observation was the balance of a pigeon’s body. “It’s one of the most important features of a racing pigeon while airborne,” he says.

Hospitality rewarded
It’s clear Hein loves his pigeons, an ingredient for success advocated by champions worldwide. His loft doors are left open and pigeons can enter and leave at will. Hein’s pigeons enjoy flying around and sunbathing “all over the place”, he says.
His love for his feathered friends kept him from eliminating a stray pigeon which found shelter in his loft. He immediately reported the bewildered, medium-sized, Blue Barred hen to the race director.
The owner was a young bird specialist from Gauteng, Corrie Naude, who gave the hen to Hein as a gift. Corrie told him she was bred from the imported Belgium stock of world champion Gommaire Verbruggen, and worthy of a chance in competition.

A wise decision and finding a match
Hein nursed this rundown pigeon back to health and started entering her in races. Once, when she returned in good time from an event, he “doubled” her back into a race from Colesberg. She surprised everybody by winning it.
Hein then did what most fanciers should do, but don’t – he transferred her to the breeding loft. On advice from a friend, Hein asked Potchefstroom fancier Jack Barkel, an international selector on pigeon eye-sign, to rate his pigeons. He took his Colesberg winner with him and asked Jack to match and sell him a suitable mate for her.
Jack decided on a long-casted Blue White flight cock. It was a line bred to the famous Bill Carney cock, originating from local bloodlines and part of the Barkel Lemons, known for the off-white colouration they often produce.
Six youngsters were born in 2006. Hein gave two to a friend, one hurt its wing and two of the three that were raced came first and second in an event from Hanover to Gauteng in 2007, on top of several other consistent scores.

International acclaim
The youngsters of the match scored as yearlings on both club and organisation level. Hein’s friend Dougie Abrahams suggested they enter a youngster from the match into the 13th Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race.
Generaal, as the entrant was named, gained attention in the pre-final training flights and then, on the big day, Hein watched on the big screen in the Sun City Superbowl with the rest of the world how Generaal gracefully entered the loft as the third returning South African pigeon.
He was placed 42nd out of more than 3 000 of the best pigeons in the world.
Congratulations Generaal and Hein Rheeder!
E-mail Thomas Smit at [email protected] or call (011) 680 4778.     |fw