It worked out that the HRC Finished Test we ran last Saturday was on the way to Iowa where we needed to pick up our trailer on Monday. We packed Thunder up and headed out Friday afternoon. Storm was off with her breeder to be bred so Thunder was the only dog on this outing.
Thunder ran a test on these grounds in May that sort of blew his mind. He did fine on the water portion, but the land test was too much for him. He picked up a hot blind instead of the mark and failed.
I suppose there are other pieces of land to hold a test on these grounds, but for Saturday’s test, the judges selected the exact same field and the starting line was in the exact same spot. The only difference was that the hot blind was to one side along a tree line and almost in line with a mark. (Hot blind=a bird placed in the field before the marks are thrown. Usually blinds are to be picked up after the marks.)
I managed to get a picture from almost the starting line. This field is pretty narrow and quite hilly. It is tough to fit a triple and a hot blind in the space.
There was a lot going on in this test. It was a triple with the marks going down as numbered 1-2-3. A diversion was thrown as the dog was coming back with the last mark. The blind was 81 yards down to the right and under the arc of mark #1, but almost in line with it. Finally, there was an honor. Whew. The wind was really swirling and if the dogs got up over mark #1 they headed straight for that hot blind because it was so close and there was a lot of drag back scent in the field.
Thunder picked up the marks 3-1-2. He nailed the first mark (#3), but mark #1 he needed to be handled because he ran over it and his handler did not want him to pick up that hot blind. On mark #2, he put on a kind of big hunt. He was playing the wind and went as far as the corn, but since he has had enough hunt test experience, he knew it wasn’t going to be in the corn so he circled back and got the mark. The diversion almost landed on him, but he held his bird and then picked up the diversion when directed. He did fine on the blind. He needed a few handles, but eventually got it. He did fine on the honor so it was onto water. This was a very challenging land series with only maybe 3 or 4 dogs out of 30 going through clean. All and all, we were happy with Thunder’s work, but he would have to be clean on the water marks since he already used his handle.
The water test was a triple with a water blind. Pretty straight forward.
The marks went down 1-2-3. The hot blind was under the arc of mark #2 and required the dogs to pass quite close to that old fall. The wind was still swirling so mark #2 was floating around. The blue arrows show how it was moving. The darkest blue arrow is the direction Thunder’s bird floated. Many dogs had trouble with these marks. Dogs had trouble hunting up mark #2. Mark #1 landed on the bank of the pond. Many dogs got up on the bank and headed toward the hot blind and had to be handled back to mark #1.
Thunder’s handler and I discussed the order to send him to pick up these marks. We figured he would pick up mark #3 first no problem. It landed in the open. But that #2 and #1 mark posed a problem. Would it be better to send him to mark #1 since he is comfortable picking up marks outsides first and then middle? Or would he do what the other dogs did and get on the bank, not see that bird and swing around to the hot blind figuring mark#2 would be an easier mark? Thunder’s handler decided to send him to mark #2 before Mark #1 to take that mark out of the picture. No problem, Thunder picked up both mark #2 and mark #1 without a problem. In fact he was one of the cleanest of the afternoon on those marks.
The last thing he had to do was pick up that blind. It was a long day and it was a challenging blind, but doable. Thunder was already being a bit of a pain and playing with the birds a bit before bring them back. His handler lined him up…sent him to the blind…and he peeled off to the left. OK stop and give him a right over. No. Stop again. Over. No. After a few of those he was called in, but he wouldn’t come back and continued to hunt in the lilies to the left.
We are not really sure what his issue was. His head has been a bit in the clouds due to Storm being in season. But we sent her off a couple days before so she wasn’t even there. Those lilies were Thunder’s downfall in a previous test we ran on these grounds. He did the same thing on the water blind, he followed his nose and not his handler’s direction. It was well after 5pm by the time he ran the water series and the test started at 8am. It was a long day to have him blow it on the last element! He did a lot of good things during the test, but it can get aggravating when they blow something that has been solid in training.
Tomorrow some follow-up to questions left in comments. I am still trying to catch up and haven’t had a chance to go back and respond to each comment, but at least I can try to answer questions.