Michigan Flyways Retriever Club held a club training day on Sunday in preparation for their May hunt test. All level of dogs were welcome. A mock test was set up and then the dogs ran it according to their level.
There was a nice turnout despite the cold and windy conditions. I kept putting on layers of clothing, including my winter boots.
The Master level land test was set like this:
The marks went down in the order I numbered them 1-2-3. Station 1 was a shot flyer. Stations 2 and 3 were dead birds. The blinds were run in between the marks, but they were not run until after the marks were picked up. The field was quite hilly with moderate cover and mark #2 landed toward the top of a hill.
The difficulty of this set-up is that the shot flyer amps up the dog’s excitement level and if the dog is prone to break, it would be on that one. Also, the way marks 2 and 3 are thrown is difficult for the dog because #3 falls in line with the #2 dead bird station. Dog’s will tend to line to that #2 station but they must push further to the left and up on the hill to find mark #2.
This was great training for Thunder because he has not had this kind of complex set-up with the excitement of a shot flyer. He was nice and steady. His handler wanted him to pick up the marks in reverse order 3-2-1. He picked up #3 fine, but when his handler sent him to the middle mark (#2), he veered off to #1. He just had to get that flyer. Valuable lesson learned…send Thunder for a shot flyer as soon as possible. In a test, you can pick the marks up in any order. He had no trouble with the flyer, but needed help on that middle mark (#2). That’s OK, it was training and we will work on similar triples.
After Thunder picked up the marks, he ran the blinds. The difficulty of the blinds is that they are run between where the dog had just picked up marks and the handler must maintain control of a dog who may want to go back to where he just picked up a bird. Thunder did well on these. His handling is really coming along. It would be nice to get nice long initial lines out of him, but even though he tends to veer off a bit, he is still very responsive to the whistle and will accept direction from his handler. The nice initial lines may come back as he gains experience.
After the land portion we moved to water where bumpers were used instead of birds. It was a double through running water with a diversion and it finished with a blind. One of the bumpers (#2), landed in cover on the edge of the pond and the other was in the water. Thunder did well on this. He has run this set up in HRC a few times. The only problem was with retrieving mark #1. He had to pass the diversion bumper to pick up the mark and he checked out the diversion bumper as he passed, (a no-no). Thunder’s handler should probably have sent him to pick up that diversion before the mark. Lesson learned.
We were very happy with how Thunder did on this training day. He hung right in there with a complex set up. We know the areas where we need to work. He will be running some tests this spring, but I am sure there will be a bit of a learning curve for both Thunder and his handler.
Thanks to Darrin for setting the mock tests and to Bill for coordinating such a great training day!
Coming later this week….Storm ran the land series, pictures on Thursday. We also trained on Saturday and I will have some of those pictures on Friday.