Judges report on the NEFRA Working Test 21.9.08 at Foremark
by David Field
On behalf of Peter Forster & myself this is a brief report about the test.
The tests were designed to be very similar to retrieves that would be encountered everyday in the shooting field. There were no tricks or ridiculously long retrieves, but we were looking for dogs that had a nose and could use its own initiative, but at the same time would take instructions and work with the handler when required.
The puppies, overall, were very pleasing and all showed a lot of natural ability, some however did have a tendency to go ‘self employed.’ A trait that did have a common thread throughout the day!!!
The top three dogs were very accomplished and on another day the placings could easily have been reversed. I do hope that they are able to push on and perform in novice tests next year. Three of the five awards were litter siblings.
The novice tests did seem to highlight an area which does require some work, namely for the dog to go where it is pointed and respond to the stop whistle, when required. A simple blind with a distraction did result in some failures and some poor scores.
On this test I watched some lovely dogs work really well, unfortunately they were no where near the retrieve.
My second test was a marked retrieve with dogs having to go down a bank and then pick the retrieve across another slope. The top dogs all did this well, but the test did require in most instances, the handler to react and use the whistle to help put the dog the right side of the wind. Many handlers failed to assist their dogs. The two top dogs were once again very smart and were certainly a credit to the breed. I believe the winning handler, until fairly recently had no knowledge of training dogs and this is her very first dog. I hope an inspiration to others to follow and keep working this breed. We had no hesitation in putting her through to open classes.
The open tests were of a similar vein, but we did expect the handlers to be more aware of the wind, and the necessity to help the dogs by getting them in the correct area to use their undoubted noses to the best advantage.
One of my retrieves was a blind, but placed in a position where the handler could see it. I had some real fun with this retrieve because virtually everyone tried to get their dogs straight towards the dummy, which was not easy, but was also likely to have the dog the wrong side of the wind. I had placed myself at the top of a slope, which gave views right across the undulating ground, which was just as well because most of the dogs covered Staffordshire & Derbyshire, before getting the right side of the wind for the dummy.
Once again the winning dog was very accomplished, but did benefit from a handler who used the whistle when required to help the dog.
It was a most enjoyable day and I really do hope that most of your members take the opportunities to work your breed, because it will be a shame if the breed is lost to its true origins as a working dog.
I do believe that if more handlers take the time and effort to increase their skills at working their dogs then there is still a competitive future for the breed in gundog work.
I am convinced that if the handlers do work their dogs they will also get far more enjoyment from the dog, and really enhance their relationship with their flatcoats.
Thank you for inviting us to judge, we had a very enjoyable day.
David Field judging with Peter Forster
1st Cherry Wood’s Cumberwood Cracker handled by Cherry.
2nd Mr & Mrs Ellison’s Blackflight Arrietta handled by Garry
3rd Prof & Mrs Bell’s Dutch Endeavour handled by Pat.
Cof M. Mr & Mrs Griffin’s Eskwinds Black Moss handled by Peter.
1st Gill Awty’s Rainbow Queen handled by Gill
2nd Mr & Mrs Hewison’s Casblaidd Hazy Daisy handled by Jo.
3rd Cherry Wood’s Cumberwood Clover handled by Cherry
CofM. Julie Matthew’s Astravia Saffron’s Spirit at Ollersett Handled by Garry
1st Mr & Mrs Hewison’s Casblaidd Little Archer handled by Jo
2nd Mr & Mrs Griffin’s Eskwinds Chaffinch handled by Gill
3rd Mr & Mrs Spark’s Lenyam Martin’s of Churchwood handled by Terry
CoM Mr & Mrs Aldred’s Eskwinds Chloes Boy handled by Keith
CoM Mr & Mrs Rees’ Eskwinds Chasing Moonbeams handled by Sandra