We entered both Thunder and Storm in an HRC Seasoned test taking place next weekend. We figured it is about time to see how Thunder’s training has progressed. We had already decided to enter him in a Seasoned test before he bloated, but of course had to cancel. We returned to his regular training this week and he is still fairly solid with his marks and land blinds.
His water blinds are OK and seem to improve with each training session, so why not try a test? Storm is more advanced in her training since she has been with a trainer. The challenge with her will be having a different handler for this test.
In a Seasoned test you are allowed to run the entire test unlike the AKC Senior Test where they have call-backs after the morning series and it is not guaranteed that you will make it to the afternoon series. There are other differences between a Seasoned and Senior test. There is no honor in a Seasoned test and the handler fires the popper gun over the dog just like you were hunting. In a Senior test, the shots are out in the field.
Another difference is that the handler may send the dog while seated on a bucket, or in a boat, or the dog may be sent from a dog stand. Although Thunder and Storm are both used to this while hunting they have not had this set up a lot in a hunt test. Luckily, the dog is allowed controlled breaks, (but hopefully we won’t have any of those…right Storm? ).
We have already started practicing sending Thunder with his handler seated on a bucket. We were also lucky enough to get a couple of the leftover ducks which were in decent condition after the hunt test last weekend and have been using them in training this week.
These pictures are from the other day where we opted to use the shady part of the field. Unfortunately that meant there were a lot of trees and a lot of shadows. Also, I was facing right into the sun so my pictures are not the best. First we threw two long single marks. Once Thunder retrieved those, we planted two long blinds. One blind was to the right of one mark and the other blind was to the left of the other mark. We wanted to get Thunder used to the idea that he may have a blind retrieve next to where he just picked up a mark.
We used the ducks for the marks and for the blinds. Unfortunately they had cut all the nice longish grass in the field so there wasn’t a lot of cover. I planted both blinds out of sight of Thunder and his handler. Once they were placed, I called them back. No sooner was Thunder sent to the first blind when two kids appeared out of no where and bee-lined right to that same duck. A huge empty field and they spot a tiny duck laying out there. Meanwhile Thunder’s handler was busy trying to handle him to that duck. The choice was to call him back and maybe hurt all the progress we have made giving him confidence on these blinds, or muddle through. We yelled to the kids to get away, but they were too busy saying, “Ooh how did this get here? Look at that? YUCK!” I guess they couldn’t see or hear a guy blowing a whistle and gesturing a dog to head straight towards them. It was decent training because they were a BIG distraction, and although it took a couple more casts than normal, Thunder ran over, (paying no mind to the kids hovering over the duck), scooped the duck up, and brought it back. In this picture you can kind of make out the kids who were finally going back to playing soccer.
The second blind retrieve was much less eventful. Thunder pretty much lined that one. It was fairly warm out and we were pleased with his work, so we ended the session right there.
We will be picking up Storm from the trainer tomorrow so we have some time to work with her before the tests. Also one of the club’s we belong to has a training day scheduled on our trainer’s grounds tomorrow. Great timing since we have the tests next weekend.