Spirit achieves her AKC Senior Hunter Title
by Tresha Moorberg
What a spring! The snow seemed to hang on forever. We thought it would never melt. And we didn’t have more than just a few weeks to freshen up our field skills.
First test of the season, we are READY. Spirit didn’t miss a step from where we left off last summer. After just a few short reminders Spirit is almost at Master level work.
So day of the test, she runs a fabulous back course. We are approaching the bird field, she gets only a few yards into the field and she performs flawlessly, doing a picture perfect stop to flush. As I am reaching for my blank pistol, her brace mate takes chase on the bird. The brace mate passes her by. That’s when she decides, “Hey wait for me!” I could hear the judge before he opened his mouth, “Thank-you handler” When the two finally come back, Spirit and I take the LONG walk back to the parking area. Oh well, there’s always the next day.
So Sunday comes, everything runs smooth. She finds her first bird, she’s rock solid thru the flush, and only did a small hop on the shot. I send her, perfect retrieve to hand! YAHOO! All we have to do now is stay clean and all we’ll need is a call back for an honor. We find another bird. I have trouble finding it. But finally get it flushed. She breaks at the shot. But the gunner missed, whew, still we’re clean. Judge calls time. Tells me she needs a call back! Yea! It’s a pass so far. Spirit is a natural backer, so a call back is cake. She and her brace mate are the only two seniors to get call back for an honor. And sure enough they both pass. So she gets pass number two.
The next test a couple weeks later, we only can run Saturday. No pass that day; blow up in the back course, oh well.
That was Easter weekend. Now as I am training all spring my fiancé’ Scott is taking more and more interest in handling. So He starts going to the trainer I use. He goes three sometimes four times a week! The two of them are learning to work together and Jim (the trainer) is mentoring Scott on all aspects. The big weekend is upon us, June 5 & 6, 2010.
Scott takes Spirit to the starting line, casts her off. She goes out and makes some nice moves and hunts well. Because our winter was so wet, and we had a lot of rain the grasses and brush is very tall and wet, so it is difficult to flush birds and for the dogs to see their brace mates for backs. But everyone makes the best of it. Spirit has a great nose, scenting a bird from a good distance away. But, Scott finds the bird, throws it, the gunner hits. YEA! Perfect retrieve! Now she just needs to stay clean. She gets a second bird, and again a perfect retrieve! She continues to hunt. While working the most incredible site happened, a Bald Eagle flew low (about 40 feet above the ground) through the bird field!
Spirit gets a call back for an honor, and nails it! YEA! Pass number three!!
Sunday, it’s a repeat of Saturday. Scott casts her out, and she runs even bigger than Saturday. It’s hot so before getting to the bird field she hits the pond for a dip.
She is working exceptionally hard. Scott is handling her perfectly. She and her brace mate both encounter the same bird. Both stand steady and the other handler blanks it. Scott moves her on. She gets her bird, Scott throws it up, but the gunner can’t make the shot, so he blanks it. The judge tells Scott to send her for the retrieve. TADA! A retrieve to hand!
Just need to stay clean. Scott works her back towards the pond, she has another find. It flushes, he blanks it, tells her, “No bird” and they go on to the pond. She takes a quick drink, and is ready to hunt. She just gets back in the groove, judge calls time.
Now she just needs the honor. She does her honor. Giving a three legged back, at about 40 yards from the pointing dog! YES! YES! She passes! TWO DAYS IN A ROW!!! She’s a SH now!
So now she’s working on her Master runs. Scott is hoping to make her pass 5 in 5 runs.
But now we both can train and handle her. I guess you can say it’s a family activity!