… An exciting turning point being Bondys first trial. It was quite amusing being head to head with Allan and Fish…. no pressure then!
The trial started walked up. It was a freezing day, starting at around minus three and only drifting up to ‘zero’ around lunchtime before plummeting again very fast as the light faded.
The game, very sensibly, stayed in bed as long as possible So as number 3, for example, I was walking up for about 50 minutes to complete my two first round retrieves. However it flowed well, and personally I was pleased with Bondy with a blind off the end of the line, then a 35 odd yard mark that came back with its head up in heavy mixed beet/turnips. When they dropped in, with little scent, it was the devil of a job itself to get anything off the bird at all.
After a couple of hours, it was decided to hold a drive (with ALL dogs sat in lthe drive), bringing pheasant off a hill over the dogs dropping on the heavy cover hill and back in the wood and pen behind the line of dogs. A few more dogs first rounds were completed after this drive.
Bondy was taken back in for his second round retrieve at this point. As the birds from that drive were cleared, it was decided to hold a Duck drive. Only the four dogs under the judges sat through this drive. Yep kiddo was one of them. But he actually coped and settled better in THIS, very heavy drive with numerous birds coming down, than the previous one with only a handful over a long 40-45 minutes or so. I was very pleased with him for his first two drives under competitive conditions (and bloody freezing ones!!!!!)
Fish also by chance was one of the four under the judges and happily sat through the duck drive but then he is a cool calm character I swear I heard him gently snoring at one point
With maybe 30 or so ducks and pheasant down, Fish went off to complete his first round, whilst Bondy and I were sent on our second round retrieve. A blind, down the side of a field, and the bird was designated by the judges (not unfairly I hasten to add) as being one of two fairly close together with a few more a little further back on the same line. That was not too much of a problem and I was pleased that with two clearly visable, he committed to one and didn’t think about swapping. You just don’t KNOW till you are sent on these things
Blah blah fast forward to this last third round retrieve, back down the field in the same direction as his second round, around 120yard blind, over previous falls (now cleared) over a reasonable sized wire fence (No not barbed…. grin!) to hunt a small piece of wood where a runner had come down. Thrilled with him going out smart, honoring, briefly previous falls, pushing back happily, taking the fence clean and hunting well. A bit of handler miscommunication error meant he didn’t hunt back as far as he probably needed to, I somehow was intent on trying to keep him in sight, wrongly, as the bird was picked a fair way back, out of sight in the end…. but sadly, not by us, but the next competitor, who eye wiped us. However he then went on to win so you can’t grumble
Fish sadly found the challenege of two birds close together a little taxing and whilst happily about to pick his hen bird, clocked a duck laid, ten foot away, white breast up, and skipped to grab that instead. A very fair case of ‘wrong bird’. Not that if he’d gone straight to the duck he would have been penalised, but he went straight to the desired hen bird…. and then thought better of it with milliseconds to go before picking Fish prefers Ducks. Less loose gob feathers or something…. But thats life….
So we didn’t either of us trouble the 4th round, but making and putting up a decent shout in the third was not a bad result for Golden balls first time out.
A super friendly, positive trial, brilliantly managed by Neil Franklin and his SGRC team, and whilst the weather was seriously ‘Parky’, it stayed dry and not too windy and all the dogs ran pretty well to be honest with the judges declaring there was next to nothing between the first three dogs.
A happy good start for Goldenballs! God I love that little dog!