Keepa un­der cover

With tri­als on the hori­zon, El­lena Swift looks to build Keepa’s con­fi­dence go­ing into cover for re­trieves, while har­ness­ing Briar’s puppy en­thu­si­asm

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - GUNDOG TRAINING -

The shoot­ing season is now in full swing and we have started on the pheas­ants. The weather has turned colder — at last — and the dogs are set­tling into their work­ing and tri­alling rou­tine well. My two-yearold dog Keepa has been com­ing on well over the sum­mer and I am now look­ing to run him in a trial at some point this season.

For this I need him to be ready and have plenty of pick­ing-up ex­pe­ri­ence. He has com­pleted a few train­ing days and three full days’ pick­ing-up. There is noth­ing like the real thing to pre­pare a dog for their tri­alling ca­reer. I have a full team of ex­pe­ri­enced dogs, which means I can choose the re­trieves I ask Keepa to com­plete and hence work him on the el­e­ments that he needs.

For ex­am­ple, on Thurs­day I sent him for a blind re­trieve along a drilled field and into a thick hedge with a deep ditch. He ran to the area beau­ti­fully and then fol­lowed the fall of the field, in­stead of tack­ling the cover straight on. It be­came ap­par­ent that when he could mark a bird fall­ing into cover, he was happy to hold a line, but on a blind he was of­ten thrown go­ing into cover. This clearly needs work be­fore we even think about a trial en­try.

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