Two training days have been held in recent weeks.
One was in Scotland, where ten Brittanys and an English Springer came along with their people. We were fortunate that the weather was kind, dry and mild, but very little wind at first resulting in scenting being poor.
All were basically pets rather than working dogs, although a few had been on shoots, as pickup or beating dogs. Our trainer was Kenny Hamilton, a committee member of Lothian and Borders Gundogs, of which I am Secretary and Treasurer, and he runs his own business training all breeds of dog and sorting all kinds of behavioural problems. He is very kind and has empathy with the dogs. We did some hunting and pointing on caged partridge,(All the Brittanys pointed despite there being no air and therefore very little scent); then some recalls and retrieving. The aim of the day was to learn, to socialise, and to enjoy our Brittanys a little more by having a little more control – not to aim for field trial or even working standard. Kenny gave a short retrieving demonstration with his German Wirehaired Pointer Bitch, Evie. Our host, Ian Stewart, gave a few of us who remained behind a short demonstration with his young imprint peregrine. He brought a black Pheasant down but was called off rather than kill or harm it. It scuttled off into the woods before the peregrine was sent up again. All in all a very interesting day, and I have booked a couple of lessons with Kenny, after I’ve practiced recalls with Missy on the cord line he gave me.
The second was a water retrieving day at Wootton Park Farm. Our Club Chairman, Steve Wright gives this review of the day “Good weather rewarded the members who brought their dogs. No fewer than 7 dogs were new to our training days. To their credit it is heartening to report that the majority had already been attending gundog classes, and this was reflected in an excellent standard of general behaviour and obedience. Even more pleasing is the fact that several of these new partnerships were actively wanting to work their dogs, and included competitive trialling and working tests in their ambitions. Because of this we were able to concentrate on reinforcing obedience, rather than actually teaching the exercises. This introduced a lot of mutual distraction, of each other’s dogs, which served to expose those that were trained but not obedient. Some pretty effective handling soon put matters right and both dogs and owners quickly worked with better concentration. When we moved on to retrieving a lot of people, with dogs at similar levels, broke off to work in pairs or small groups. We had blind retrieves being done in one corner of the field while, elsewhere, youngsters were being encouraged to take a playful interest in dummies and tennis balls. Others wanted to try split retrieves and directional training so it was a very busy and enjoyable session.
After an al fresco lunch we went to the lake for the day’s chief business. The shallow causeway, leading on to the island, is ideal for encouraging the nervous or inexperienced to take their first, tentative swim. Maurice Cooke valiantly carried youngsters out into the water and gently helped them get their balance, before guiding them safely back to Mum or Dad. Barbara Anderson’s six month old babies (Rochus Jago and Jemima) both took to the water with very little encouragement. Phil Slatter and Mick Samardzija were both sporting waders to help tempt Tournesol Hussar and Brescue Brett into the depths. Others taking the plunge for the first time were Sylvia Stone’s Jayricnbrits Hobo, Richard Harwood’s Toffee Cream (fresh from his triumph in the TAN at Catthorpe), John and Nicola Wordsworth’s Tournesol Iagan, Chris & Roy Wilce’s Tournesol Hermione and Andy & Sue ’s smart-looking, hawking dog All these dogs also tried their hand at retrieving a “cold game” mix of partridge, pigeon and pheasant.At the same time, on the other side of the island, the old hands Ron Wyatt’s Patouche Eloise and Steve Wright’s Hawkwise Fair Copy were doing “open” retrieves on cold game across quite a wide stretch of water. Joining them were Fiona Wensley’s promising young bitch Hawkwise Iduna and litter sister Hawkwise Inayah, owned by Maurice. Returning from last year Richard & Caroline Perks’ Jassendue Highlander continued as official water retriever for anything that the others left in the water, and Club Treasurer, Ruth Holt’s, Hawkwise Flagbearer also did well.
Finally Norma Ansell put up some simple jumps and a weave. Quite a few of the dogs had done a little bit of agility, and made a reasonable hand of things without putting up much competition for Norma’s super star, Speck (Hawkwise Bedouine over Gefni).
This was a very encouraging turnout, with owners travelling from other Regions to take part. By the end of the day we were already talking about running a mock working test, next spring, to introduce dogs and handlers to this first level of competition. If you are interested, but are not on the West Region Mailing list, please contact Steve Wright on 01789 772413 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.”