Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 June Buckeye Retriever Club Hunt Test

This past weekend was the Buckeye Retriever Club's spring hunt test, at Hambden Nursery south of Cleveland. Gryff finished his JH there, earned his 1st SH leg there, and his 2nd MH leg, so I'm quite familiar with the grounds. The Ohio hunt test crowd is simply great. Great people, fine judges, excellent workers, and super grounds.

I'm bummed to say Gryff and I went out in the 2nd series of thes Master test, the 1st time we haven't gone on to the 3rd series (this was our 6th test). His morning land series was great - a walk-up triple with a double blind. He picked up his go bird on the right and the left bird with almost no hunt, and got the middle bird efficiently. He lined the left blind (which was between the left and middle marks, just outside where the left mark landed and only took 2-3 whistles on the 2nd one.

The 2nd series was deceptively simple - a water double with a diversion bird. The diversion bird was thrown when the dog was just reentering the water on the return from the 1st retrieve, AND it was thrown in-line with the memory bird. Gryff got the go bird and the diversion bird just fine, but instead of getting in and swimming past where the diversion bird had splashed, he chose to run down the bank on the left and then all around the pond to the bird. And then he didn't get wet on the return. The judges said if I'd handled him into the water (successfully, of course), it would have been okay. The pond was small enough that it simply didn't occur to me to handle. I kept thinking he'd get in, and then he was beyond where that was possible. One other dog did essentially the same thing and he was also dropped. I think the failure was a combination of zero work on in-lines since last summer and his cheaty nature that hasn't been addressed lately. He did some pretty significant cheating during the Steady Singles at the National as well as in training during the past week. Bad me for not addressing it better during training.

I do know what I'll be working on in the coming months with Gryff. WATER! Lots and lots of water. Since Ty's water is weaker, this will be good for her, too.

Ty had super land marks in the Senior test on Sunday. It was a walk-up double, with the memory bird thrown from the right hedgerow, angled back, and the go bird thrown from behind a bush, landing just to the left of a big pine tree. She walked out with nice focus out into the field, and sat promptly on my whistle. She turned well to mark the 2nd bird, and dashed off right to the bird on my cue. She lined up and delivered it well, and got the memory bird with only a short hunt. The blind was about 180 degrees from the left bird, toward the corner of the field. We had to send directly into the corner of high cover, with tempting mowed paths to both left and right. There was another mowed path in the middle. Her blind was decent, though I have some homework ideas from the experience. She wasn't sitting at all crisply, and in fact, didn't sit a couple of times. She stopped and gave me her focus, but not completely. She was standing with her body facing down one of the paths, her head turned toward me. I waited a LONG time for her to sit, and to her credit, she didn't 'auto cast' and take off on her own. I finally gave a come-in whistle and another sit, and finally got a sit from her. On my next cast, she did go into the next strip of cover and made it back pretty close to the duck. We had some horsing around in the trees, but she finally came up with it.

Here's a short video showing the land marks as they were thrown for the first dog.

Both judges complimented me when we finished the land series. I haven't watched Senior much lately, so I've forgotten the leniency of expectations compared to Master .

Water was in the dumbbell shaped pond relatively near the entrance to Hambden. She took a great line to the go bird - I was really proud of her effort there. I wasn't sure how hard she'd work on it, but I needn't have worried. She drove out to the bird through some cover and over logs and plucked the bird out of the water promptly. She did a bunch of hunting into the woods on the memory bird, but she came up with it (it was on the shore in the little pocket on the north side).

Here's a short video showing the water double. I was a bit late in starting the camera, so you have to look fast as the memory bird lands just as the video starts.

The blind was a swim across the right end of the dumbbell, with a bit of an angle entry. The duck was 10-15 yds from shore, under the left side of a bush. The start was rocky. She got in and went along the right shore line some. She took a cast that I let her carry for a while even though it wasn't superbly on line because I didn't want to totally tear down her momentum. She finally took a brilliant over back to the center of the pond (she swam like she spotted something on the far shore that she headed for), and then a great straight back almost to the end of the pond. We had some horsing around at the end, but I was relatively pleased with the ending. Her training water blinds last week weren't super confidence inducing for me, so I was happy with the results.

In the end, we did indeed pass, so now Ty has 2 Senior legs. We won't run another test until late July (Ft. Detroit @ Omega), so we have lots of time to work on the problems this weekend showed me. That's what these tests are for: showing me where our strengths and weaknesses are.

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