Written by Keith Manley – Wessex Area Working Test Organiser
Wessex Area Training Days took place at the Avon Tyrrell Estate by kind permission of The Lord and Lady Manners.
On May the 12th we held our woodland and jumps day. In the morning we concentrated on retrieves amongst the trees, gradually increasing the distances as the dog’s conﬁdence grew. After lunch we asked the dogs to retrieve over jumps and in ditches and stretched the distances accordingly using seen and blind retrieves.
Later in the afternoon we had a walk up with seen and blind retrieves in front, behind, and down the line. We had several last minute withdrawals so sadly had only 6 handlers on the day with no new faces attending.
On June 10th we held a water training day on the river Avon. The puppies concentrated on improving their deliveries, ﬁrst on the Iand and then from shallow water, and eventually they were swimming well and became much more conﬁdent in the river, entering and retrieving back to hand.
It became evident, when asking some of the older dogs to retrieve from the river that there were underlying basic issues with steadiness and delivery so these were addressed before progressing to retrieves from and over the river, whilst incorporating distractions on the bank and in the water.
The ﬁnal training day was held in the Wessex Area was a Cold Game day for eight dogs in September. Fresh partridges were used with no dog being asked to retrleve a wet or damaged bird. We started the young dogs retrieving dummies with wings attached and progressed through birds in socks to a cold bird. For some of the puppies who had never been asked to retrieve a bird before this was enough to aspire them on their ﬁrst introduction to game.
The slightly more experienced dogs were progressively taken through the stages of a walk up, starting with a single marked retrieve in front and continuing through marked retrieves behind and down the line and ﬁnally some achieving blind retrieves with distractions.
All training days have received very positive feedback and we are extremely grateful to The Lord and Lady Manners of Avon Tyrrell Estate for their continued support of these days with the use of their land.