Frus­trat­ing con­di­tions add to the chal­lenge for URC Es­sex re­triev­ers

Shooting Gazette - - Gundogs - RE­PORT BY: JOHN CAMERON

Club: URC Es­sex

Event: Open qual­i­fier test

Venue: Gard­ners Farm, Spring­field

Judges: Phil Askew and Mike Rollinson

Ste­wards of the day: Keith Foster and John Cameron Spon­sor: Masters Dog Foods

Our test was held on the out­skirts of Chelms­ford by the kind per­mis­sion of Robert and John Buck­nell. The weather was sunny, still and warm. Thanks go to our dummy-throw­ers and ste­wards, our spon­sor, com­mit­tee mem­bers who helped on the day, and our judges.

Test one, judged by Mike Rollinson, con­sisted of a mark over a small jump ac­com­pa­nied by two shots. This was fol­lowed by a blind with­out shot, to an area of cover to the right and short of the first mark. The test proved chal­leng­ing as the win­dow of vi­sion was nar­row and if the dogs were drawn left or right on ei­ther re­trieve they were then out of sight of the han­dlers. The long grass and lack of scent added to the chal­lenge. Mike said that the dogs who did not mark the first re­trieve well sub­se­quently had prob­lems be­ing han­dled on to the dummy. The ma­jor­ity of dogs found the sec­ond blind re­trieve the sim­pler of the two.

The sec­ond test, judged by Phil Askew, was a two-dog walk-up with each dog in turn hav­ing two marks to shot, which in turn be­came mem­o­ries as the first dummy thrown was the first to be re­trieved. Again, the con­di­tions meant a num­ber of dogs did not mark well enough to com­plete the re­trieves.

Af­ter lunch, the third test, judged by Phil, was a dou­ble mark to shot. The first dummy was thrown shorter and to the right of a clear path down­hill into an area of cover; the sec­ond was thrown longer and up­hill to the left of the path. The dogs were asked to re­trieve the first dummy thrown, first. Both re­trieves proved chal­leng­ing to the dogs, many of whom were pulled down­hill and out of sight. The fourth test was a dou­ble blind, with only the first re­trieve to shot.

The first dummy was placed in reeds on the bank of a small stream which the dogs had to swim to re­trieve. Most dogs were suc­cess­ful, though the sec­ond blind proved more dif­fi­cult. The dogs were sent to the right of the stream over a bank and into an area out of sight of the han­dler. If the dog did not come out of this area on the right line it could be pulled left, back to the area of the first dummy, or right into a hedgerow and com­pletely out of sight.

The dogs com­plet­ing the sec­ond re­trieve were those that ei­ther took a strong line from cast-off or those whose line was re­in­forced with an ad­di­tional “back” com­mand be­fore or just af­ter the banked area.

Award win­ners and judges, from left: A. Wright, Mr Buck­nell (host), J. Collins, P. Askew, S. Searle, M. Rollinson, R. Ket­ley, C. Heas­man and L. In­gram.

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