The Results are in!! Highlights from the Gundog Working Test
On an overcast Sunday 27th June 2021, in the wake of the Covid pandemic, the Spanish Water Dog Club held its first major competitive event since 2019. Kindly sponsored by Sporting Saint, the ‘Gundog Working Test with Water for Any Variety Spaniels’ saw 30 competitors descend upon Field Barn Farm in Garford, Oxon to compete, with the contingent made up in the majority by Spanish Water Dogs and Clumber Spaniels, with a Lagotto Romagnolo, a couple of Welsh Springer Spaniels and a Sussex Spaniel thrown in for a good measure of healthy competition.
Under the watchful eyes of Judges Kevin Barraclough  and Judy Hempstead [non-panel] the competition was split into three classes; Puppy, for dogs under 18 months on the day of the test, Novice, for those dogs that hadn’t been placed 1st in a Novice Test or 1st,2nd or 3rd in an Open Test or have been given any Field Trial Award including C of M and Open, which is open to any Dog or Bitch.
Competitors worked together in pairs to complete the elements of the test. First up was a hunt to demonstrate quartering skills. This took place in the long grass and thistle growth, which in some parts reached heights of over 5ft. This then transitioned out of the grass, with the first of the pairing completing a marked retrieve (or seen) followed by a blind retrieve, whilst the other dog would have to demonstrate its steadiness. This part of the test differed slightly depending on the class, all designed to test each level of ability, but also to ensure that those less experienced weren’t set up to fail from the off. For puppies and novices these elements of the test were conducted out of the long grass in shorter cover, that was still sufficient to hide a dummy in and get the noses working, but gave clear vision of the handler to provide directional instruction. For the open class the additional element of having to complete the retrieve out of the long grass was added, making it harder for each dog to see its handler for guidance, thus truly testing each dog’s ability.
For the puppy class this is where the test concluded, whilst Novice and Open went on to complete water retrieves. For the Novice class this required a retrieve of a dummy thrown upon a reed bed, a short distance into the water from the embankment of a close by river. The semi-steep entry into the river unnerved several of the dogs causing hesitation on entering the water. Some handlers were rewarded for their patience with the dog eventually entering and completing the retrieve, whilst for others it appeared a bit too much for them to overcome on the day. That said there were also a good number of dogs who were clearly keen and up for the retrieve, entering the water without any hesitation, returning the dummy back to its handler.
For the open class the retrieve was designed to push the dogs further, with the dummy being thrown on to the opposite side of the bank, requiring each dog to navigate the river as well as getting up and down the muddy embankments on both sides. For our open class this challenge was accepted with gusto and keenness from all dogs, making it a close call to see who would come out on top.
Despite the threat of thunderstorms, the day remained dry to complete the competition and whilst there has to be a winner on the day, everyone took the best dog home.
Results from the working test were as follows:
1st – Parkforth Rock n’ Roll (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Andrew Parker
2nd – Parkforth Woodland Warrior (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Andrew Parker
3rd – Zorrazo Hey There Yogi Bear (SWD) handled by Kate Rutherford
4th – Madadhbhan Montrachet (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Tim Poole
1st – Parkforth Woodland Warrior (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Andrew Parker
2nd – Parkforth Greenlands Ice (Clumber Spaniel) handled by David Chilvers
3rd – Jackpotstud Kiss Me Quick (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Janet Morton
4th – Sedgehurst Flint (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Sharon Stone
1st – Parkforth Greenlands Ice (Clumber Spaniel) handled by David Chilvers
2nd – Josalyn Nana Natallia (SWD) handled by Ash Green
3rd – Madadhban Clements at Seolfre (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Gary Barstow
4th – Parkforth Sky Rocket (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Mr Nigel R Stock
Best Hunter - Parkforth Woodland Warrior (Clumber Spaniel) handled by Andrew Parker
Most promising Handler – Linda Meakin with Valentisimo’s Wise Owl (SWD)
Best In Test – Andrew Parker with Parkforth Woodland Warrior (Clumber Spaniel)
The Spanish Water Dog Club would like to congratulate all the competitors on making it a successful event. On behalf of the club we would also like to say a massive thank you to our sponsors on the day Sporting Saint - suppliers of Gundog Training Equipment, our Judges Kevin Barraclough and Judy Hempstead for giving up their time to assess our competitors, Field Barn Farm for allowing the test to be conducted within its grounds, Jane Appleton, the SWD Gundog Co-ordinator for organising the working test, Jenny Abrahams and Kate Wilden from the Spanish Water Dog Committee for helping to run the event on the day, Lee Ladlow for providing photography and our volunteer stewards, Kate Rutherford, Jenny Johnson and John Bint who tirelessly and repeatedly threw dummies out for the competitors to retrieve.
You can read a full report of the day from our Gundog Co-ordinator Jane Appleton by clicking the link below.
If this article has sparked your interest at getting involved in Gundog training, or maybe you want to have a go but don’t know where to start, have a look at the Gundog Page on the Spanish Water Dog Club website for advice. You can access the page by clicking here.
The club are also looking to organise a beginner’s day later in the year, for which details will be posted closer to the time. However, if you do want to register your interest please email your name and contact details to Jane Appleton at firstname.lastname@example.org
A select gallery of photos from the day is available below. All photos will be added to the main website in the coming weeks.