I spent Friday at the National's WCX test in Eastern Connecticut, running and successfully completing the test with Gryffin. Ty couldn't run because of coming in season, which is too bad because she's the one who hasn't ever run one before. Gryff passed a couple of WCX's at least 3 years ago (1 pass is all it takes to earn the title), but failed the two we have run since then.
Normally, our WCX test consists of a triple on land with distances of 60 & 80 yds for the outside marks and 100 yds for the center mark, and if I'm remembering right, normally all 3 marks are thrown in the same direction, either left to right or right to left. Yesterday's set up didn't look like that at all :-). The flier station was the long one and was on the left, going right to left. The middle station was the short one, going left to right, and the right station was the middle distance, also left to right, with a road to cross. I was actually happy to see that set up for Gryff, because I think it was more like what I will likely see in a Master test, which is what we're really aiming for.
I had a nice compliment from one of the judges - when I stepped out of the last holding blind to go to the line, I had Gryff sit before proceeding to the line, which helps with control and also gives him a chance to have a brief look at what's out in the field. She said that is a good idea to do that.
In spite of my heart going like a trip hammer (this was our first test in a year), I took my time and did my best to make sure Gryff was looking where he needed to be before sending him for each duck. He was nice and steady at the line, always a pleasure to see. He did have to hunt for a while on each bird, but stayed in the appropriate area well. One of the judges said something about an intelligent hunt on the last bird, using what little wind there was to help himself come up with the duck.
We finished the land triple at 9:30 AM (we were about 1/4 way through the group of 36 dogs) but didn't run water until 3:30 :-(. The judges had to wait to finish the land series for several exhibitors who were running in other stakes, and then they changed the water test twice before settling on the one we ran. We had a no bird on our first trip to the line. This means that something happens to make the test not fair - sometimes a gun doesn't fire right, or a launcher doesn't release, which is what happened for us.
The test consisted of a water double, with the memory bird landing with a splash in some reeds just in front of a large flat rock to our left. The go bird was tossed off a point of land on our right in open water. Gryff had a nice straight swim and return with that bird. I got him facing the rock for the memory bird, and sent him off. He was on a great line until about half way out, did a head check towards the go-bird station, then veered towards the island that was to the right of where the memory bird had landed. He swam between a couple of big rocks near the island, then hooked in to the left and came up with the bird pretty promptly. We finished up with an honor sitting on the road above where we'd run from closer to the water.
I hung around to watch a few more friends run and to visit just a bit more, then left to head west about 5:30, though the test was far from over. I wanted to get some miles under my belt before needing to stop. We ended up spending the night in Amsterdam, NY at the Super 8 there.