A day in the field in Suffolk

Firstly, I have to start with a massive thank you to the lovely Emeir for recommending this day’s one to one with Trevor Rigby.

I had been waiting for my booked day for a couple of weeks, with no idea what to really expect I kept it under my hat but I was sooo excited about it! I packed up some bits the evening before as once again I had no idea what I might need.

The morning arrived and I got up extra early so Kodi could have breaky and it could settle before we headed off. I popped him in the boot (totally over excited as he knew we were off somewhere interesting!). The drive took about 1.5hrs and was all smooth except for the thick thick fog, which I was praying would not be on our grounds.

I arrived, settled Kodi with some water and went off to learn the theory part with Trevor, I was also given a copy of his updated manual for reference later and any notes he made as we chatted.

The theory was mind blowing in in simplicity and I felt it was very similar to my Reiki where I originally learnt an over complicated system with bells and whistles then found Frans Stiene and discovered how simple it really is! Trevor spoke to me about Kodi and summed up briefly the basic nature of the Weimaraner as a breed. We spent time covering the basics of wind direction and the patterns that a dog will apply in each wind. We then did a little Q&A involving making me think about where I would set my dog up in certain winds and what I would expect to see based on the conditions described. I was surprised how easy it clicked in theory but had no doubt I would feel very differently in the big wide world trying to put it into practice!

For me personally I think the biggest revelation in the theory work was that I had always thought I was supposed to tell my dog where to go ie. how to hunt, which in reality is really dumb as he is a Weimaraner, a hunting dog, a HPR…..like he wasn’t born knowing how to hunt?? I actually remember when he was alot younger (about a year old) and we were out on the marshes, all of a sudden his head went up as he caught scent, he looked at me and I sent him off, he flushed 6 birds in different areas and I was so shocked as it was the first time he had done anything like this. The following day we went on the same walk and I kept trying to send him away down to where he found the birds, he just kept looking at me like I was a bit crazy and didn’t go down…..looking back he was probably wondering why on earth I was sending him after what he knew was nothing!

Anyway back to my day with Trevor….

So on this lovely sunny and warm day we hopped into the car and headed to the grounds. We started out in a basic empty field just to see how Kodi would work the different winds offered up and he did what Trevor had expected him to do in every wind (including the back wind), I struggled to keep up putting the theory into a reality situation, I was taking what felt like forever to process each wind whilst Kodi … once set up and sent off… just got on and did his thing. It was incredible to see the instinct at work, not working anything out just doing it. Even right at the very start I had thought he was just running being playful but he wasn’t and Trevor explained what I was seeing was a cork screw movement that he had expected would be what Kodi would offer up at this point.

Trevor was then happy we move into the next area which consisted of a river, a little beet and a few bushes etc. Kodi started this area by dunking himself in the river, well it was quite sunny and warm! In this area it was my responsibility to encourage Kodi to cover all the ground so he wouldn’t miss anything. I struggled, by the time I had processed what was happening at any given moment it had all moved on, I felt a little lost and wasn’t entirely sure I would grasp it all at any point during our day! I helped Kodi into the beet and then moved to the other side of the field, there was one large bush and Trevor was happy to see Kodi cover round it but return to cover what he had missed at the front. I spent most of my time in this area learning Kodi’s body language and what he was telling me every moment, when to leave him to investigate and to decide on his own that he had nothing and when to move him on. I was also still struggling with ground covering and probably missed out some good chunks of the field. I also spent some time learning how do deal with Kodi and his distance from me, he found a scent and got busy working and following it and at one point looked like it might end in a point but I was too far behind and he had gone into thick growth and I couldn’t see him which meant I was no longer part of the equasion…another lesson to learn!

We then moved into a thicker forest area, it was this area that really blew my mind due to the changing wind directions. I had trouble turning the pictures in my mind of what I was expecting so that I could steer Kodi the right way to ensure the whole area was covered, the plus factor to this was a quick learning curve as I had to ask lots of questions to try and right it all in my head!! It was also in this area that it began to click that wind direction and the pattern Kodi was working would affect how ground was actually covered ie. if the scent was being bought to him and therefore although it looked like an area was missed it actually wouldnt have been or alternatively if the wind wasnt being bought to him I would therefore needed to ensure that the area missed was covered. It was also where I learn’t more about where I needed to be to help Kodi, most of the time Kodi got it right but he was occasionally back casting and it was my job to make sure he was moved on to help him make the right turn, if I was in the wrong place I actually encouraged the back cast.

We then moved into an area with lots of small bushes, there appeared to be alot more scent here and a couple of times I thought we were on the verge of something but each time Kodi decided it was a road to nowhere. In this area I learnt alot about leaving Kodi to figure things out for himself to help him learn what was something and what was nothing. As we headed to our final area a hare/rabbit went up and Trevor blew his stop whistle as I hadn’t even clocked the situation in time! I blew mine after Trevor’s (has has a 211.5 and I have a 210.5 at the moment – soon to be changed) and Kodi gave up the chase and came back to hunting, unfortunately the stop whistle hadn’t raised a sit from him but I was pleased that at least he called off and returned to the hunt (small mercies and all that!).

The final area (aside from the jaunt back to the car) was more dense woodland and it was such a joy at this point to watch Kodi work. I had calmed down a little on the panicked brain, fried mind front and was able to try to spend more energy reading Kodi and I have never seen a more beautiful sight than him out there with all his feathering wafting in the wind and his lovely plume of a tail catching the breeze whilst every fibre in his mind and body was set to hunt mode he just worked, worked, worked and quite frankly I could have watched that sight forever! It was also lovely to see how Kodi had grown in the course of one afternoon, he had gone from a dog that stuck fairly close to me and looked to me frequently to one that was working the scents on his own but checking in with me to ensure things were still good and he was also ranging further and further from me and confidently too.

It was then time to head back to the car, unfortunately 🙁

On the way back Kodi appeared to be flagging a little when all of a sudden a pheasant ran accross the path some way in front! We headed into the woods after it and Trevor thought it might have been an injured one, Kodi’s nose caught it immediately (as he hadn’t seen it cross the path) and he began working furiously to find it, there was a second when he froze (similar to how he looks on point but he wasnt), his head was slightly tilted then a second or so later he was off again. Sadly he didn’t find the pheasant and Trevor thought it had probably crossed a second path to another woodland area so we headed back to the car. As we did so it was lovely to see, all of a sudden, Kodi raised his head as he caught a scent and disappear away into the forest to check it then look to me and return, this was a dog who at the start of the day would not have left me to go into the woods to check out a scent at all! It also interesting to see the change in head carriage throughout the day, from low to the ground in the bunny poop filled field to a mix to finally mainly air scenting in the forest area.

One of the major changes for me during the day was the mind set of having to control and direct Kodi and to use hands and whistles to realising that you really are better keep the noise levels as low as possible and using the odd gesture when really necessary. Recall also under went a change from my normal loud tooting to standing with my arms out and Kodi just returning and sitting, it was quite a shock that the less I did the more it all fell into place!

It was a totally fascinating day watching the changes in Kodi, at the end of it Trevor said he thought Kodi was a good dog who had the ability to work any given wind and to work well for me, he was pleased to see that Kodi’s range had increased during the day and said that it was good that Kodi was now learning to do his own thing but was still checking in with me and had been under control all day long. Homework – well it is now up to me to raise my game, find him the grounds to work and keep challenging him with harder winds and conditions. I just really really hope I can sort myself out to enable Kodi to do is thing.

Time to try to find some Essex land to work…………