This past weekend Freighter ran and passed a Master Hunter test. The test was by no means a gimme. There were some challenging elements and I wondered how Freighter would handle them, but he did a great job and it was wonderful to see that the hours and hours of training pays off.
Master tests consist of three series run over two days.
The first series was a land triple, #1 and #2 were dead birds and #3 was a shot flyer. After the dogs picked up the marks, they ran the blinds. The thing that made this series challenging was that it was down in a bowl with areas of cover and mowed areas. (I showed some of the cover on the drawing.)
When we say the set-up was in a bowl, we mean that the dogs run from a ridge and all the action is happening down at the bottom of the ridge in an area that looks like a bowl. This kind of set-up can cause dogs issues because down in that bowl the wind can swirl around and trick their noses.
The judges really wanted to see dogs take the cover for the marks and the blinds. They did not want to see the dogs avoid the cover and run around using the mowed areas. If you follow the blog, you know that hubby has been working on Freighter taking the cover for his marks and blinds and Freighter did just that. He pinned the marks and went straight to them with no hunting. He had one handle to the blind on the right and a couple to the one on the left, but only because hubby thought Freighter was not far enough back when he was actually right in line with it. Freighter never avoided any of the cover and plowed right through it. Freighter’s training pays off.
The first series took all day Saturday to run so bright and early Sunday we were back at it.
The second series was another triple. This was a combination land water triple with two marks on land and one in the water. It also had a water blind, a diversion shot and an honor.
I knew this was going to be a tough series for Freighter. These marks were thrown out of order. Rather than being thrown from left to right or right to left, they were thrown as indicated with the middle bird being the first bird thrown, then the left, then the right. Freighter has not had a ton of triples like this.
Freighter picked up bird #3 first after a little hunt. He had no trouble with the water mark off to the left (#2). Hubby sent him and he took a nice line to the bird, fighting the wind and holding the line. This mark required the dogs to cut the corner of the pond and some dogs kind of cheated that corner and ran around on the edge. Not Freighter, he carried the line.
Freighter also came back through the water. This is something he has been taught from the time he was a young dog with a professional trainer and it really paid off. It was nice to see him not try to cheat on this mark.
The middle mark gave him problems because they fired a diversion shot as Freighter was coming back with the water mark. Freighter was convinced that there was a bird over there that he needed to retrieve. I guess we need to add more diversion shots into his training.
Hubby ended up handling him to the middle mark (#1). This is allowed although it lowers the score a bit. Freighter redeemed himself on the water blind. This blind required the dogs to really cut the corner of the pond which can be a hard thing for a dog. The judges made clear that they wanted the dogs to challenge that line and try to hold it and not run around the corner. Hubby made sure to be ready to handle Freighter whenever he got off line or seemed like he was going to cheat on the land. Freighter only needed 3 casts and held a nice tight line to the blind.
Freighter sat nicely on the honor so it was on to the third series.
The third series was a walk-up water double. The wind was really blowing for this series and it was blowing across the pond. The marks were thrown in such a way that they landed in weeds or on land so that they would not be blown by the wind.
Freighter did fine on the walk-up. If you follow the blog, you know he has struggled with these. Hubby has changed to a sit whistle rather than saying “sit” when the duck is thrown. Freighter stopped walking and was steady, but he did not sit. He remained standing. We will be working on that. But Freighter had clearly stopped walking and watched both marks so that is an improvement.
Hubby lined Freighter to bird #2. The correct path is straight across the pond, but due to the strong wind, many dogs got blown over and cheated the land taking the path indicated in yellow. Not Freighter. He took the path indicated in black and returned using that same path. He fought the wind both ways as he has been taught. Thank you Darrin! Freighter’s training pays off. Some dogs that were blown over could not dig out that bird, while others got confused and tried to pick up bird #1 but could not come up with it. Staying in the water and taking the correct path was definitely helpful for Freighter.
Freighter needed a bit of a hunt on the second mark (#1) but before long he had it and had completed a challenging test.
Things To Work On
No matter how well your dogs does, there are always things to improve. Freighter needs to sit on the walk-ups. He needs to stay at heel walking to the line, even if he is excited. He barked a bit at the when the marks were thrown for the second series so we will work more on that. We need to practice diversion shots and throwing marks out of order.
Freighter has another test this weekend and hopefully he will rely on his training and stay focused.