The first and last time I had an opportunity to train with this particular trainer as far back as 6th February 2010 but I never forgot what a fantastic time I had!
At the end of last year I sat down (as always) to work out what I wanted the dogs and to gain from this year and I knew one of those was more experience in the field. Since I had never forgotten my one training session I was so excited when at the very end of year I spotted a training opportunity, I contacted him immediately and today was the first of a few sessions we have lined up.
Got up early to feed both dogs and let it settle before the journey to Norfolk. We arrived in good time, let the dogs out for a wee and got them both settled so we could begin with the mornings theory. I had already covered it in the first session but was pleased at how much I remembered and it was good for Gabriella to hear all the background theory as she was going to be working Rhea whilst I worked Kodi. I already knew from last time that the theory was all well and good on paper but that I found it a whole different ball game applying it practically and ‘live’. A few things clicked this time round that hadnt the first time which I was pleased about.
The practical section went pretty much as I expected at first, my dog ran around and I stood confused as to my next move, the trainer tried to help by directing me and reminding me of theory we had discussed and I felt frustrated that I couldnt get it and annoyed that I felt I wouldnt either but I tried to remain upbeat and positive. Gabriella ran Rhea next and she was a joy to watch! She was all work and no play, so focused on the hunt and ran far and wide and with such confidence for a little one. It really helped to watch her and Gabriella working and I probably learnt more watching them than trying to work Kodi. Our trainer was really pleased with Rhea and advised Gabriella what she needed to work on. Trevor then ran his dog and again it was a brilliant opportunity to learn whilst watching, she was lovely to watch. Im glad to say that I did manage to improve as the day progressed, I slowly got more of an understanding of covering the ground but think it will be a while before I can cope with changing winds etc!
Kodi’s biggest challenge was that he was very fixed on me, we have done lots of obedience and close control type work and in agility it has also taken him time to learn to work ahead so it came as no surprise to me. At first I was a little disappointed as Rhea appeared to hunt so well and Kodi kept looking to me but I was advised to stay quiet and just use body language to move him on and after getting scent a couple of times he was soon off hunting on his own and venturing completely out of site following a trail. Once he was confidently hunting and going out then when he checked in I added the odd hand signal for direction but kept things as quiet as possible. The more the day went on the more he improved and by the end of the session he was like a different dog. Both dogs were really good as the other dog was worked and instinctively sat to the whistle when she flushed game and watched it away I was really pleased. It was lovely to watch how intently Kodi watched her work too he was mesmerised!
We also hid a little frozen game to see what Rhea would make of the scent and as she passed by her head snapped in the direction of the bird and she was sent to investigate, she picked it but then did the happy dance with it before bringing it to Gabriellas hand so some more work required there.
Overall it was just the best day and I cannot wait for our next! We have a lot of homework now and finding the ground will be our biggest challenge but we’ll do our best to rise to it.