Well, after 5 years of training my labs and those of other's I'm thinking of undertaking my first HT. In the past it's not that I was against them, but they just didn't interest me. My mind has changed for a few reasons which leads me to my first question (please keep in mind I've only attended one HT as a spectator, but have been in retriever training for 5 years and have read/watched a lot so I have a basic understanding...I think :wink: ).
1. How family friendly are the events/people? I know when it comes to the actual tests, it'd be me and the dog, but overall how are they? I ask because I have 3 young children (girl age 3, two boys - 2, and 4 weeks) and it means everything to me they are involved with my dogs. In fact, the two older ones get up in the morning at about 0600 to come train with me. They can be an added distraction, but the enjoyment on their faces says it all. The fact that I want to pass on something to my kids (other than hunting and the obvious of love, morals, etc.) brought me to consider HT. I thought, how great would it be to get involved with HT and offer the kids the opportunity to be around great retreivers. My father didn't pass anything on to me...other than the alcoholic gene...which I've overcome! It pains me to not have "shared" anything with him. Keep in mind I do have the common sense to balance the family, training and events...not saying they would be greatly involved at this young age, but over the next 15 years...
2. Can a 5 yr old dog get into HT at this point in the game? Maggie is a 5 yr old BLF with a ton of drive and great marking...marks birds out well over 100 yds. She hasn't been FF, but a conditioned "hold." (I know she'll need it if we want to do a HT.) She is CC'd. She has a good pedigree...actually comes out of Black Forest lines...several MH and a few SH on the sire's side. Thankfully, she didn't carry on the acclaimed "pointing" instinct of Black Forests line! :yes:
3. I'm concerned about her lining...she's hunted for 4 years and has a great nose/hunting instinct and uses the wind very well for finding birds, but will that hurt her in HT? We do about 75 yd cold blinds without issue and she handles quite well...as long as I keep the training up!
4. She's proficient up to 4-5 marks and again, good marking and good memory.
5. I know the best advice is to get with the local retriever club...which I will when the Air Force moves me to Mt Home, ID later this month. Just thought I'd ask in the mean time...
I think she could pass the JH test now, except maybe she needs to be FF'd first as she might drop the bird after coming out of the water.