Freighter earned his fourth Master Hunter Retriever pass over the weekend. He only needs one more pass to earn his title.
I was not able to watch him run the test or to get any pictures of him running because I was working at another stake. Of course I had hubby fill me in on how he did. Hubby was very happy with Freighter’s performance on all three series. We were not really sure how he would do since he has not run a test since last August and he had that long layoff from training as hubby recovered from surgery last September. Unfortunately, the weather this Spring has been such that we are behind in our training for this season.
Lucky for hubby and Freighter, they attended a three day workshop the weekend before the test and that helped get Freighter in the hunt test frame of mind. The seminar was a sort of coaching session for people training their own dogs and they were able to work on some of Freighter’s weak areas. They ran challenging set-ups and Freighter got his first live shot flyer since the test last August.
In addition to what they worked on at the workshop, one thing hubby has worked on since Freighter was a youngster is his obedience coming to the line. In a Master level hunt test the dog must come to the line off lead and at heel. In his younger days, once the lead was removed, Freighter would run circles around the holding blind because he was so excited. Obviously, that is not what you want. The dog needs to be under control. Freighter has also had trouble with the walk-up which is a required element of a Master level hunt test.
The walk-up requires the dog to walk at heel and a bird is thrown in a surprise situation. This tests steadiness. In the past Freighter has gotten far in front of hubby and left to retrieve before being released by the judge. In a Master level test, that is an automatic NQ. We have worked hard on Freighter staying at heel and stopping when hubby stops walking and waiting to retrieve until he is sent to do it. In a Master test, the walk-up is usually the first bird of a triple (three birds thrown in succession) so the dog must watch them all before retrieving any of them.
You may remember two recent posts I wrote on walk-ups, here and here. The training we have been doing is paying off, because Freighter stayed at heel the entire way to the line last weekend. He did not get out front of hubby, or fall behind. Of course we will continue to refresh this because it has given Freighter so much trouble in the past, but maybe he is finally understanding what is required. Freighter’s obedience coming to the line was good for the walk-up and the other two series as well. His marking was good, although he did require a handle for what we call a dink mark. A dink mark is a bird that is thrown up close. Freighter ran over it, which is not unusual, but this is something to add to our training. Other than that one handle, his marks were clean and his blind work was nice too.
Congratulations hubby and Freighter!