Frustrating conditions add to the challenge for URC Essex retrievers
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.