At the end of 2017 a HPR trainer moved to our area - Matthew Ball of Dorntanza Gundog Training. Having read Matt's impressive CV (see his website) I decided I'd like to pursue some one to one training with him, with the aim of improving Otto's steadiness, hunting and possibly his game retrieving.
We've had two sessions thus far, both really useful giving me idea and things to work on. Matt's training is really clear and he also sends really helpful written documents to confirm what you've been working on and tips for home training.
Below are a series of videos of Otto and I (self filmed on my GoPro) training last week, here I'm working on getting him to wait for me to send him for retrieves, sometimes picking up the dummies myself and other times letting Otto pick them up. I'm also mixing up between seen, blinds, memory and spilt retrieves.
It's been a long while since I wrote an update on Otto but he's now 3 years old and a much more grown up boy. Last year was a bit hit and miss as he picked up various injuries through silly accidents so missed lots of shows, working tests and training.
However he did make it to Wales for the Welsh Kennel Club championship show in August, coming second in the post graduate class. This show is a special one for him as it's home soil, being just 30 mins away from the farm he was born on. It was even more special this time as Otto's baby sister Jesse was also showing.
He managed three Novice working tests, scoring well in the first two to finish in the top half of the competitors and then right at the end of the summer we managed a 3rd place which was a really nice surprise as the various injuries meant we hadn't trained as much as we hoped to.
The training we did manage to do was mainly with a new group set up by Brenda Moss and Larry Wilks of Arany Gundogs at the Commonleys Clay Shoot. Brenda put on an excellent Natural Ability Test which included hunting and pointing partridge, a pigeon retrieve over a jump and another from water, a track of a rabbit off the leash and a gun sensitivity assessment. Otto performed beautifully all day scoring really well, particularly with the pointing and tracking.
When the shooting season started we were stopped in our tracks again with Otto getting injured for a third time, so we missed out on a shot over training day for newbies. However once Otto was better Brenda & Larry invited us on a rough shooting day which was very educational and fun, I learnt a lot and realised I need to do a lot more training with Otto.
Frustratingly Otto has started to not retrieve game properly, fussing with it rather than bringing them straight back. Frustrating as his retrieving has always been his strongest part of the Hunt, Point, Retrieve. Best advice for now is to take a break and revisit game next year to see if he grows out of this... I really hope so!!
A couple of videos of Otto pointing some pheasants in the summer.
This is my blog about what I am up to with both my camera and my dogs Otto & Hazen.