Sunday, July 5, 2009

back to training

But with a twist... we' ve been working hard on basic obedience with both boys -- and especially the 'long stay.' As might be gathered, this is an indicator that the Mominator failed to earn either of the final two Obedience legs at the CVVC's Versatility Day two weeks ago due to his decision to 'freestyle' during the 'long stay' portion of the both tests. The VCCNE has its Versatility Day on August 1st up at Sharpe's Farm. Hopefully we can get both boys finished up with the obedience and conformation parts of their Versatility Certificates. And so, in the meantime, I have been taking the boys to the softball fields near the house while there are games being played, setting one up in front of the other, making them sit or stand in the sunshine, with the wind in their faces or at their backs, while everyone else in the park looks at me like I'm mad. It's all proofing.

The twist, though, is that we started horseback training in preperation for the fall season. We went up to our friend and pro trainer, Deb Goodie's, place upstate to do some training with her, her horses, and some birds. We'd planned to go earlier, but the weather in the northeast has been very wet -- and as a result, the grass at Deb's is wicked tall, and the ground very damp. Perfect for woodcock as it turned out, but another great reason to train from a horse.

I had wanted to start horse training to build my confidence in my horsemanship, Jozsi's comfort with looking to me and the horse for directional cues (rather than relying on my voice, my whistle, or coming back around to check in), as well as general strategy for working with a scout. It feels like there's so much to process -- happily, though, Jozsi is a better dog than I am a handler. Sadly, I didn't get any great video of Jozsi breaking away -- which is always a hoot -- but did get this clip. After running Jozsi this morning, we then ran Yogurt, The Most Awesome, to see what she might find in the undergrowth. After a lovely point on a woodcock in a thicket, Yogurt then went on to establish this point.

As you can see, the grass was deep and the quail we had put out the day before had decided to covey up in the tall grass near a pond, close to water, but safe from the air (you can also hear a frog croak in the undergrowth). To Deb's right, there is what looks like is a very small rise. What you can't see is that the undergrowth actually gets deeper, much deeper, before it drops off to the pond. It was approximately 18" taller than the average vizsla. I know this because Momo found a third quail in there about a half-hour later -- and was completely invisible even from horseback! It took three minutes to delicately plough through it without tripping over him by mistake.

Momo probably actually deserves the most credit for the two days. He was run off a horse for the first time yesterday and was definitely a little nervous. But this morning, he was all over it and a hunting fiend. He will never be a field-trial contender, but this was definitely fun for him.

And so, now, after two days of busting through tall grass and standing water, both dogs have sacked out happy, dreaming quail hunting dreams.


Stephanie said...

Cracks me up that the horse is so in-tune to what's happening. Even to the point of following the bird after it flushed!

Glad you and the boys had fun.

Lauren said...

Great insight into the the Vizsla's life in the field - thanks!