The day started out sunny and not too cold. As the day wore on, the wind picked up and it started to sprinkle. The temperature seemed to drop and we were adding layers of clothing to keep warm and dry. But Spring is trying to make an appearance. The field that was snow-covered last week, now only has a spot or two of snow left and the pond is finally open!
We had a nice sized training group again. Many of the dogs and handlers are entered in a double-header Master stakes this Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Best of luck to all of them!
This training was a chance to work on cleaning up things like being steady, honors, and tricky single marks.
The first single was thrown just to edge of one of those remaining snow patches. A white bumper on white snow has always been a tough one for Thunder. Plus while his mark was being thrown, an honor dog was getting a correction. All of that lead to a bit of a hunt for Thunder, but eventually he found it.
One of the things we asked the trainer to work on with Storm is multiple marks. If she sits and waits for the marks to fall, she can usually do just fine. However, she tends to get so excited with the first (“Memory”) mark that she doesn’t always remember it by the time she picks up the second (“Go”) mark. It is hard to explain, but that is what it seems. While the other dogs did the single mark, Storm got a second hand-thrown mark. The second hand thrown mark was the “Go” mark and the first mark was the “Memory” mark for her.
Normally our trainer encourages the owners/handlers to handle their own dogs during these training sessions, even those he has been training all week. However, Storm’s training is going well and we are hoping that she will be ready so he can her in a couple of Senior tests in May. In preparation, he is doing most of the handling with Storm right now.
Storm is still working on sitting still at the line.
But I think Spring must really be in the air because all of the dogs seemed over excited and ready to run. Dogs who had been steady the last few weeks were not as steady and honor dogs had a lot of corrections. Also, more of the dogs seemed to hunt marks than normal.
All of our marking exercises must be working for Thunder because with the exception of the first mark, he did very well and if he hunted, it was short-lived. He even did well on the 100 yard mark (these he would routinely pull up short on). He ran right after Storm though and of course he followed her pattern to that mark exactly. Hopefully he won’t be following right behind her in any test. While some hunting is allowed, too much is not good.
The last set of marks were very interesting. It was three singles just a bit behind the decoys. The first was thrown to the left of the thrower. The second was to the right and back. The third was to the right but forward (angle in). The “trick” was that third mark because many dogs overran that mark. Thunder nailed all three marks. Again our marking drills seem to be paying off.
Storm ran these as three singles (no extra marks were thrown for her here). She also overran that third mark. The trainer elected to handle her to that mark and her handling is coming along very nicely. She was quick to sit and took all casts. Nice job Storm. She is still learning though and when that last mark was re-thrown for her, she seemed confused as to whether she should go or not. She did eventually get it. Hopefully she will understand that handling and marks can all happen in one series.
Our plan going forward is to wait until the end of April to figure out which, if any, tests to enter in May. If Storm is ready, she may run Senior and maybe some Seasoned (HRC) at the end of the month. We hope to enter Thunder in some Seasoned tests before Senior. The advantage of entering a Seasoned test for an inexperienced handler is that even if your dog messes up an element in the morning, you can still run the whole test. By running the entire test, you can find training holes and work to fix them. In Senior Hunt Tests they have call backs after the morning session and if you don’t pass, you don’t get to run the water portion.
I have been working on a couple of posts to explain the requirements of the Senior Hunt Test and Seasoned Hunt Tests. Hopefully I will have them done this week….well hopefully.