The alarm went off at 4:30am on Wednesday morning and I was beginning to regret saying yes! Nevertheless, I loaded up the car and begun the 180 mile journey to Shropshire at 5:20am. The meet was at 9am for a 9:30 start, and the sat nav was saying that my journey time was 3 hours 39 minutes. If I’d have known how long it would actually have taken me I wouldn’t have stopped at Greggs at the service station for a bacon buttie! I hit standing traffic around Warrington/Liverpool on the M6 and again on the A49. My estimated time of arrival had shifted from 8:50 to 9:28! Shocker!!!
I tried to contact the secretary but there was no signal, tried Darren Skidmore who was also running, no answer!!! By this point I just thought get the foot down and hope they don’t start without me. I finally arrived at 9:30am but was told by Steve Russell not to worry, given how far I’d come they were going to give me until 10am if needs be. Quickly laced the boots up and let Fern out to clean herself and away we went.
Started in a fairly open section of woodland with bracken and bramble for cover and it wasn’t too long before the first dogs were into game. I was soon backing up and unfortunately the dog which was running got put out for running in, I was up!
I was in under Steve Bolton who immediately put me at ease and explained what he wanted to see and where to aim with the dog. I cast fern off into some light bracken and bramble and she was going really nicely, probably the best she’s hunted in any of the trial so far, not pulling, covering her ground nicely and I started to feel relaxed. She got into a thick bracken pile to my right and had a lovely contact flush on a cock bird which made its way right to left across the line but was unfortunately missed. I’d instinctively blown the stop whistle on the flush, I really need to stop doing that.
I cast her off again and she indicated a bird in a thick bracken pile, I pushed her in and out came another cock bird, which she was steady to……until it came down. Another over enthusiastic retrieve putting us out of the trial. Balls.
I got some good feedback from Steve, and James Starkey gave some nice feedback. Interestingly both suggested getting rid of the silent whistle I was using, as Steve put it: “when the blood’s pumping, she won’t take a bit of notice of that”. So that’s something I might consider.
Overall it was half expected. I’ve been gearing her up for a trial next week, and hadn’t shot over her since the last trial due to work, but it was an enjoyable day out. I’ve another trial next week with both Fern and Ria, my other novice dog, so a couple of days training this weekend will hopefully straighten her out. Admittedly I don’t think I shoot enough over her in a trial style situation, most of the time it’s on my own and she’s is normally steady, it just seems that when the bloods pumping, jealousy of other dogs around etc she seems to crack. Back to the drawing board but roll on next week!