GSP Club, Yorkshire Group Team Retrieve Challenge 2015

This annual event is open to all HPR breeds.

Groups of friends form teas of either mixed or single HPR breeds. This year there were 54 entries making 7 teams, and 16 of these entries were Spinoni, split across 2 teams. This is exciting beacuse it is rare to see so many Spinoni entering ''Working'' competitions, often there will be just one, or none at all in a working test or field trial.

The event was split into 4 retrieve tests of varying difficulty. Each team member does the test and is marked individually. The scrose of the top 3 dogs from each team are then used to give the total score for each test. 


Test One

A long seen retrieve across a field to the edge of a wood.  Each dog started off with 25 points and lost a point for every error.  So, for Toby and me, while the test itself wasn’t difficult, Toby marked the retrieve and ran out fast, but he lost marks for peeing on a tree, hunting wide of the area and on his return he came back to me on a slight curve rather than in a direct straight line.  

Test Two

The second test was a split retrieve.  Two dummies were set out, quite close to each other, on the edge of a crop field (with a strong scent of game - probably rabbits). One was a seen marked retrieve, representing a dead bird, the other, representing a “runner” or wounded bird, was a blind retrieve. We had to decide which bird to send the dog for first and points would be lost for selecting the wrong bird. I correctly sent Toby for the runner first, which he winded quite quickly, brought straight back and delivered to hand.  The second retrieve was more challenging because although Toby had marked this, by now he had forgotten about it.  I set him off correctly but he became distracted by the scent in the crops, as did many other dogs, and it took a while for me to direct him back towards the dummy. I lost points here for over direction and confusing my dog with to much whistle.  Eventually he winded it and brought it back with a nice delivery to hand.  

Test Three

Test three was a long distance seen retrieve using a dummy launcher.  Toby loves these, unfortunately he loves them too much and is so excited by the dummy launcher that he struggles to sit steady on hearing the bang, tends to run straight in at full speed in the direction he thinks the dummy is heading and, therefore, misses where the dummy  lands; meaning he has to hunt for the dummy.  Whilst Toby is steady to shot in a shoot situation, in this test he did exactly as I predicted and we lost points for lack of steadiness, needing to hunt for the dummy and for too much instruction. However, I was pleased with our score it being considerably higher than I was expecting. 
Test Four
The final test was to find two dummies which had been hidden in a wood, within thick cover.   I knew where the dummies were which meant that I could direct Toby accordingly.  This turned out to be our highest scoring test.  Toby followed my direction and straight away found the first dummy on scent, returned it and went back out on my instruction to find the second quickly. This test presented a very realistic situation, where a picking up dog would hunt through thick cover to find shot game and return it quickly to the handler, I was delighted with my boy!
This event, although competitive, was a fun sociable day and for me, a novice handler with a young dog, a terrific learning experience without the pressure of being a formal Test.  I discovered how easy it is to go wrong and lose points on too much handler intervention, but I also saw what Toby is capable of and how my hard work is paying off - he exceeded my expectations and I learnt just how much work I have to do. 


Alli Kay & Toby 2015