Five days of spaniel field trials were ahead of us when we packed our car and drove 1200 km to Ile d’Oleron. Ile d’Oleron was the place where the first two days of trials were held. Normally the trials are held on pheasants but here were mainly rabbits. The fields were spread over a large part of the island and most of the fields were pretty hard to go through, even for the dogs.
The first day Hans Knoppert was competing with Rudy (Brendan v.h. Nardinc Bastion) and Miss Nuala (Aquatikus Home Run) and Annelies had entered Kenzie (Green Socks Touch-and-Go).
Kenzie had a hard time finding rabbits and/or birds. Rudy also was unlucky but on the first day Miss Nuala flushed a pheasant, wasn’t shot but afterwards did an acceptable cold retrieve.
Ripple (Fynder Full Blast) had to do her debutant test (same set up as trial but with a planted bird) as it was her first time at the trials. She passed the test after having to chase a running pheasant which wasn’t easy.
The second day at the trials at Ile d’Oleron wasn’t a success at all and in general very few placements and qualifications in all fields. Definitely time to move to the next trials!
On the Saturday the Marcheprime (south of Bordeaux) trials started. It must have been the 15th year that we went to Marcheprime.
This day we had entered all our four dogs and in total six Irish Water Spaniels were competing in several groups and fields. Kenzie started and did a great job. Worked for about 20 minutes, flushed a pheasant and had a perfect cold retrieve. Miss Nuala worked immediately afterwards but Hans wasn’t satisfied with her style and stopped her run. Ripple unfortunately had a field with quite difficult cover and she hadn’t the experience to do a nice hunt.
For Rudy and Liffey (Green Socks Summer Queen) we had to move to another field. Rudy had a good run. Found, flushed and retrieved. Liffey was the last dog competing in that field. She started pretty good. Great pattern but after a few minutes she was selective deaf and followed her own mind. She flushed a bird at about 100 meters away and the judges had to eliminate her. For sure she had a great time :-).
After lunch it was Torann (Green Socks Flying Dutchman) who had to do his debutant test. Torann did a very short hunt, a good retrieve and was steady on shot so he passed!
On Sunday we were not so lucky as Kenzie and Miss Nuala had high numbers and both had to run in the same field as Saturday. The girls were running under a Belgium judge who was judging weird. Kenzie was eliminated for flushing a pheasant on a path. Miss Nuala flushed two birds but the judge decided not to qualify her because he didn’t like her style.
Rudy had fun in his run in a quite open field and was eliminated for not being steady.
Running order wasn’t the best for Torann as he was nearly last. His first field trial and also my first attempt. He started a bit slow but as soon as he came in the wood with bracken vegetation he used the wind and showed a real nice search pattern. Unfortunately no birds!
Ripple and Annelies were afterwards and run last out of a group of 12 spaniels competing. Within ten minutes Ripple made a marvellous point. It seemed that she had trouble to find the bird in the bracken but with her typical jumping/springing way she got spot on the bird and flushed it. Ripple was more or less steady and after being send for the retrieve she brought a very lively bird.
The run continued and after another few minutes she flushed her second bird. Guns were alert and bird dropped dead. The retrieve wasn’t a problem at all.
Rudy had slowed down a bit during his last trial on Monday. He worked very efficient and picked two live birds. Unfortunately his first retrieve wasn’t really solid and he wasn’t completely steady on shot.
Miss Nuala had a good flush but on her way to this bird she flushed four other ones. She had a difficult time to locate the shot bird but in the end she managed. Kenzie worked afterwards and didn’t find a bird in her run of twenty minutes. She got the opportunity to continue the way back to the cars as she was last one running. Just in front of the cars she suddenly scented a cock in the brambles and flushed this bird. Her trials ended with a correct retrieve.
In the meantime I had my second run with Torann. He started with a lot of speed and covering a large part of the wood. He had some trouble to find birds as we had backwind. After ten minutes he made a move forward, turned to the right and it seemed that he came back to me but before I could properly see what happened he flushed his first bird. The shot fired, I grabbed my whistle and on the whistle he sat down. Called him in and send him for the retrieve. I had no idea where the bird dropped but Torann did. I was pretty pleased with what he showed.
After this nice work he thought he was done and his pace dropped. Lack of experience!
The last dog - again - competing was Ripple. She started a little further and Ripple worked for almost fifteen minutes at a constant high speed. After a while I thought that Ripple was unlucky. We couldn’t follow Ripple that well as there were large bushes between the judges, gun, Annelies and the little group of spectators. Suddenly I saw Ripple coming through the bushes and I saw her chasing a pheasant. The bird flew but the gun wasn’t in a good shooting position. Ripple immediately returned to Annelies and afterwards Ripple was given a cold retrieve which she brought in nicely.
At the price giving this run was awarded with a 1st Excellent with CACT. A big, big surprise especially when you know she is only 16 months old.
Ile ‘d Oleron
Aquatikus Home Run - Very Good
Fynder Full Blast - Passed Debutant
Brendan v.h. Nardinc Bastion - Very Good
Green Socks Touch and Go - 3rd Excellent
Green Socks Flying Dutchman - Passed Debutant
Fynder Full Blast - 1st Excellent
Aquatikus Home Run - CQN
Brendan v.h. Nardinc Bastion - Good
Fynder Full Blast - 1st Excellent CACT
Green Socks Flying Dutchman - Very Good
Green Socks Touch and Go - 3rd Excellent