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    1. #1
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      barry581's Avatar
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      Some observations from a guy who knows next to nothing

      I attended my second hunt test as an observer today put on by Delaware Bay Retriever Club at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, Maryland. We arrived early afternoon, and were able to watch the final three Junior dogs run their water retrieves. All three did a good job marking the falls, and passed their test. I was hoping to see more Junior dogs work, as I was hoping to get a feel for the standard at which these dogs were working.

      Once we finished watching the Juniors, we went over to watch the Senior dogs on their water series. We watched about 15 dogs run, and I think maybe 5 passed the test. Poor marking was a big issue, and failure to respond to handler directions was also a big problem for many of the dogs, many completely blowing off their handlers. One dog made a meal of her bird while on a small island 30 feet away from her handler. I felt so bad for her handler as she could do absolutely nothing about it. Two dogs broke as the first bird was launched/shot.

      I say this with all due respect, and as someone with virtually no experience in the hunt test world. In my many conversations with IRISHWHISTLER regarding my training Brooks to hopefully compete in hunt tests in the future, one thing he continuously hit on was standards. Set your standards high, and hold yourself and your dog to them. Many of the issues I witnessed today are things Brooks and I have been struggling with in our training evolution.

      Even though I have yet to compete in a field event, I could empathize with each handler and the difficulties they were having with their dogs. It re-doubled my commitment to make sure Brooks and I are as prepared as we possibly can be before we enter a test.

      The one highly if the day for me was watching a friend of mine and her dog do a kick a$$ job at the test. Her dog did a great job nailing both marks with precision and style. She also did a great job handling the dog to the blind, which is something the dog has struggled with in the past. It was really great to see all the hard work they've done the past couple years pay off.

    2. #2
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      Seniors around here have a normal pass rate of 30% or less on average so you likely saw pretty much the norm. It's a huge step from JH to SH, and until you do it, you can't really know where your pitfalls will be. The dogs get so much more amped up at the tests, and sometimes the handlers do also, so suddenly, they are flailing their arms on casts far too fast after the whistle, and it blows the higher octane dogs' minds. SH is truly easier w/ a milder mannered lab. Depending on the water blind, some can be very technical whereas others quite easy. We had shoreline blinds where if the dog got off to the side in the cattails (out of sight) you were screwed....
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      IRISHWISTLER (11-05-2017)

    4. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by windycanyon View Post
      Seniors around here have a normal pass rate of 30% or less on average so you likely saw pretty much the norm. It's a huge step from JH to SH, and until you do it, you can't really know where your pitfalls will be. The dogs get so much more amped up at the tests, and sometimes the handlers do also, so suddenly, they are flailing their arms on casts far too fast after the whistle, and it blows the higher octane dogs' minds. SH is truly easier w/ a milder mannered lab. Depending on the water blind, some can be very technical whereas others quite easy. We had shoreline blinds where if the dog got off to the side in the cattails (out of sight) you were screwed....
      All of the retrieves required the dog to cross an island enroute to both mark and the blind. The first mark landed in the water near the shore opposite the island. There was a pretty good breeze at times which pushed the bird maybe 20-30 feet from where it landed. This was the "go" bird and most of the dog handled it pretty well. The memory bird was an angled entry, across the island, back into water, then onto land where the mark landed about 10-15 from the opposite shoreline. This is where the wheels fell off for most of the dogs. The Blind was about 20 yards to the outside of where the first mark was launched, the dogs had to cross the tip of the island, then across the water to the opposite bank, where the mark land about 10 feet onto land. Many of the dogs came out and went well past the blind, and failed to comply with handler directions.

      I will say this was a pretty tough set up for the dogs. There was a large forest of trees which provided a background making it hard for the dogs to see the marks. There was no bird against the sky contrast to aid the dogs visually acquiring the falling birds. The memory bird was hidden a bit as the island was higher than the land on the opposite bank where the bird landed. The dogs were facing the sun, which became a bit more problematic as the afternoon went on. Lastly, the wind was coming from the 8 to 9 o'clock position from the line, and it was basically a tailwind to the memory bird. You could see the dogs having trouble picking up the scent, and you could immediately tell when the did scent the bird. It really showed how amazing these dogs noses work!

    5. #4
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      Windycanyon is spot on in that the jump from Junior Hunter Stakes to Senior Hunter Stakes is a big one technically for both retrievers and handlers. Barry, as both yourself and Windycannon have suggested, there are a number of factors that retrievers are subjected to during a hunt test, some are static in nature such as physical obstacles a dog must overcome, others are more dynamic and evolve continually throughout the test, wind direction, scenting conditions, shifting currents of moving water all come to mind. All of these factors need to be considered by the handler and astute handlers are very competent at making said considerations as those changes occur. In fact, the conditional changes can take place continually throughout the run of a single dog. Depending on your place in the running order, it is good to watch other dogs run previous to moving to the line with your own dog. One can identify specific trends within the test by watching other retriever / handler teams. IT IS HOWEVER QUITE IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THOSE TRENDS CAN CHANGE RADICALLY WITH A SUDDEN CHANGE IN PREVAILING FACTORS. The successful handler is the one that maintains an inner calm, recognizes the change in factors, and adapts to meet the demands set by those changes in factors.

      Good to see you out doing your homework prior to running BROOKS. Both members of TEAM BROOKS will benefit from said course of study.

      Cheers.
      Irishwhistler
      Last edited by IRISHWISTLER; 11-06-2017 at 06:08 AM.
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    6. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to IRISHWISTLER For This Useful Post:

      barry581 (11-05-2017), windycanyon (11-05-2017)

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