The Spinone combine

The NFL has their combine and last week was my Spinone combine. The guys haven’t pointed a bird since November and haven’t retrieved one since January, so I just wanted to take a look at them before we began our summer training. I didn’t do any training or give corrections other than a couple of “whoas” – it was just a matter of setting up the scenarios and let the dogs worked them.

Tracking
Tracking consisted of dragging a goose wing for roughly a 100 feet with a couple of direction changes thrown in. Doc lost the scent but was able to pick it up again and found the wing without much trouble. Mia did an excellent job of tracking to the wing. For whatever reason, this particular video didn’t turn out too well.

Blind retrieve
I placed Pheasant wings about 250 feet out. By the time I planted Mia’s wing and brought her into the pasture, I had forgotten where it was and cast her in the wrong direction (more about marking and casting in an upcoming post). Regardless, she was able to hit the scent cone and work back to the wing. As with her “aunt Sophie”, retrieving is done on her terms. Doc doesn’t care about taking a straight line to the mark always ends up in the right place.

Point and honor
I braced Doc and Mia for pointing and honoring. Doc went on point which Mia honored from a good distance. I planted another wing and this time had Doc “stay” while Mia hunted. When she went on point, I called Doc and he honored nicely. There was a time when Mia was a speed demon like Doc, but she’s become a much more methodical hunter, and by this time, there was a lot of scent out in the pasture for them to work through.

In all, I was happy with Doc and Mia considering their 4-month layoff and it will be interesting to see what they look like after three months of consistent training.

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Bumper piles

Diagram of Doc and Mia's retriever drills, after training I let them race each other to retrieve the 2 middle bumpers

Diagram of Doc and Mia’s retriever drills, after training I let them race each other to retrieve the 2 middle bumpers

After letting everyone run in the pasture for awhile, I worked with Doc and Mia on their retrieving and both showed a marked improvement over last week’s session. Both kept decent lines to the bumpers and back.

Doc gallops back with a bumper from the first pile I set for them.

Doc gallops back with a bumper from the first pile I set for them.

Mia trots back with a bumper from the first pile that I set for them.

Mia trots back with a bumper from the first pile that I set for them.

I placed a pile of bumpers about 200 feet out and then alternated Doc and Mia with retrieves until the bumpers were gone.

Mia returns from the second pile of bumpers. She prefers the large green bumper to smaller orange ones I have.

Mia returns from the second pile of bumpers. She prefers the large green bumper to smaller orange ones I have.

Doc runs back with a bumper from the second pile.

Doc runs back with a bumper from the second pile.

I then set another pile of bumpers in the opposite direction: again about 200 feet out, and repeated the drill.

 

Doc took Mia's favorite bumper and leaves her in the dust with a little friendly retrieving competition.

Doc took Mia’s favorite bumper and leaves her in the distance during a little friendly retrieving competition.

Then for fun, I set a couple of bumpers about 150 feet out and sent both Doc and Mia out at the same time so that they raced each other to the bumpers. This generates a little competition, which is good to do from time to time to put a little spark in their training.