Heading To Ohio Chasing A Title
Going into last weekend’s hunt test, Freighter needed one more pass to earn his Master Hunter Title. We decided to head down to Ohio for this test because the next test in Michigan is not until mid-July. We did not want a month and a half to go by without Freighter running a test. We have always found our dogs do better if they can run more frequent tests. Plus with one more pass needed for Freighter’s title, we wanted to get it done.
It was going to be a hot weekend in Ohio with temperatures predicted to be 90 on Saturday and thunder storms possible both days. Luckily the test grounds had a lot of trees for shade and the judges set up the test with the heat in mind.
ACK hunt tests require one series with multiple marks on land. Since the tests around here are in the summer, most judges adjust the tests to take the temperature into account. They will move marks closer or find a field with shade so that the dogs do not get overheated. We have even had a “land series” that included a water blind so the dogs at least get wet to cool off.
The first series last weekend was a land double with a diversion bird and an honor. The judges found a nice shady field and the marks were not too far so it moved along quickly. The judges did not want extended hunts in the heat. We would call this a breaking test. Birds thrown up close like that may induce a dog to break, or leave to retrieve before the judge says it is ok to go. This tests the dog’s steadiness. If a dog breaks, that is an automatic DQ.
If you read the blog, you know that Freighter has had a problem with breaking and steadiness. He has taken himself out of a test on more than one occasion. He was super geeked to run the test and was more vocal as he watched the marks than we would have liked, but he was steady. He made short work of the set-up including the diversion bird so all that was left was the honor.
They had to rebird (or resupply the stations with birds), before Freighter could do his honor. We always have the luck. It was so hot that hubby took Freighter off line into the shade while that happened. It would have been a bit easier not to have that pause in the test. Sometimes once a dog is taken off line they think they are done and when put back on line they think they are starting over again. Freighter has run enough tests to know the game so he managed to keep himself together for the honor and was on to the second series.
Expect The Unexpected When Chasing A Title
A funny thing happened after Freighter was finished and most of the way back to the truck. For this test, they were actually throwing a diversion bird when the dog was on the way back from the memory mark. For whatever reason, they did not throw the diversion bird for the dog running after Freighter so that dog had to go back in line and rerun the test. The judges called hubby and Freighter back to do the honor all over again for the next dog. Great. Freighter had to watch the marks being thrown for a second time while not allowed to retrieve them. That helped to geek our bird crazy boy up even more. Since Freighter had already completed the honor, the second time he was on lead so no chance of breaking. I guess it was good practice.
The second series was a walk-up land water combination with a double blind. The walk-up mark was thrown on land. The other two marks required the dog to swim across a narrow pond and get up on land to retrieve the birds. One blind required the dogs to swim, exit the pond, and go up a hill. This blind gave other dogs trouble. The handlers had trouble driving their dog up the hill. The other blind was on land at the base of a tree.
Wouldn’t you know it. They had to rebird again just before Freighter. Great–get geeked up even more Freighter. Freighter did fine on the walk-up and even reheeled himself to hubby when he got a bit out front. He had no trouble with the two water marks, but he needed to hunt a bit for the walk-up mark on land. Ah that darned dink bird. We hoped he would not be dinked by the dink bird but he stayed in the hunt and came up with it. Freighter ran two very nice blinds and was on to the third series chasing his title.
Third Series For Title!
Freighter ran the first two series on Saturday, and the third on Sunday. The third series was a water triple with a water blind. This triple was out of order which means that rather than throwing the birds in order left to right or right to left, they were thrown two outside birds and middle bird last.
I was anxious to see how Freighter would do on this one. It was not a huge pond, but very different from the ponds that we train in because there was a lot of leafy vegetation around it. For marks #3 and #2 the dogs had to exit the pond to get the bird and on mark #3 it was quite a steep bank. A lot of dogs had trouble with this set-up and especially the go bird (mark #3). They needed to be handled to one or more marks. Since this was for Freighter’s title I kept my fingers crossed. He nailed this triple and pinned every mark. Good job Freighter, clean on all marks (meaning he needed no handles during the test). All that was left was the blind which I figured he would do fine on.
Of course when you are chasing a title, nothing is ever easy. The weather had changed a couple of dogs before Freighter and it now looked like a thunder storm was about to hit. When Freighter was on the way back with the third bird he retrieved, there was a clap of Thunder. Freighter jumped and looked around. He did not drop the bird and finished the retrieve but I could see his focus was off and he had to do the blind to earn his title. Hubby sent him to the blind and he carried a nice line until he got to the area where he heard the thunder. Then he started ping-ponging just before getting to the bank of the pond. He took the casts, but he would only carry a short way before changing direction.
What are you doing Freighter? You need this blind to finish! At one point it looked like Freighter was going to swim back in so hubby stopped him. Hubby took a deep breath and let Freighter tread water and settle himself. Hubby was not going to lose this blind. He gave Freighter a “back” cast and that did trick. Freighter exited the pond and got the bird to earn his title. Whew.
Freighter Has His Title Now What?
Now that Freighter has his title, we probably will not run more tests. There is something called the Master National and the Master Amateur which are tests for dogs that are already Master Hunters. They are held annually and you have to qualify by passing so many tests each year. We do not plan on pursuing that. Hubby may run Freighter again for fun but with the cost of tests around $100 and space in tests limited, I am not sure how much we will do.
We may put Freighter back in the show ring and work toward his Grand Championship. So stay tuned for that.