Sharing experiences


If anybody would like to contribute a write up of their gundog experiences, please send your write up to

Karen Saynor’s lovely write up of her experience making Ekko into a FTCH in November 2012 .  Ekko was the first Munsterlander to win an Open Field Trial since 1984……..hope you enjoy the read:

FT Ch Tarkanya Spikeys Splendour – Ekko.  I am thrilled and so proud that Ekko has now won her second First at an Open Field Trial this season, making her a Field Trial Champion.  It is 28 years since John Wagstaff made his bitch into FT Ch Clara of Aberton -Ekko is now only the second ever in the U.K.

On the Sunday afternoon we started the long drive down to Bunwell in Norfolk where we had booked a bed and breakfast for the night.  It is much too long a journey to do on the morning of the trial.  There was a heavy frost overnight but it soon thawed.  The whole trial was conducted in one large field of sugar beet – a crop that we don’t have access to here in Wales as it is all sheep but she had run really well at a trial in beet the previous week so I wasn’t too concerned.  The guns were instructed to only shoot pointed birds.  We were drawn no 10 to run and when it came time for our go six dogs had already been put out  Off she went hunting really nicely.  She came on point and I was getting the guns into position when a bird got up not too far away from her.  The nearest gun shot it.  The judge told me he didn’t want that he wanted the bird Ekko was pointing produced as she was still on point.  Luckily she hadn’t seen the bird anyway – just heard the shot as she was pointing in the opposite direction.  After that bird was flushed, shot and retrieved I was then asked if we wanted to retrieve the first bird.  Well I couldn’t say no could I but no one seemed to know exactly where the bird had gone (certainly not me as I had been watching Ekko), apart from the gallery but that was no help to me, but she found and retrieved that one too.  Phew, I was sure we would be picked up then but no – there were still minutes out of our ten left!  Off we went again.  Again she came on point and after the flush the bird was again retrieved.  …off we went again!  Luckily our time was soon up and I was able to relax for a while.

Only five dogs went through for a second run.  The first two had blank runs, we lost the third and then it was us again.  Off she went.  She was soon on point again although the tail was still moving slightly.  I had just told the gun the bird was moving or about to when it jumped.  Down it came and was again retrieved still alive.  As Ekko was on her way back a cock pheasant flushed from right under her feet.  She stopped and watched where it went before returning with the hen to hand.  We must be picked up now I thought but no.  “carry on” is what I heard.  She indicated a couple of times but by now the birds were running down to the end of the field which wasn’t too far away.  “pick up handler”   – phew. The gun by me told me how fantastic she was and how he would have gone right across the field to her on point as he knew when she went in to flush a bird would be produced.

As we were walking back to the gallery I was so pleased with how she had run.  Ekko received such lovely comments from the other competitors which really means a lot and I was just hoping that there would be no third runs.

Four of us went to the water which is a really horrible, mucky pond – long and narrow with overgrowing brambles/shrubs along the sides.  The bird was placed near a pipe at the far end.  Water completed I breathed a real sigh of relief.  We were all taken back to our cars in the beaters waggon where we could have something to eat/drink and change our boots, then we were off to the cottage to await the results.  When we arrived we were greeted by a huge pot of home-made soup, bread and croissants which was very welcome as all of a sudden I felt quite chilly!!!

Fourth place was called out, then third and then second.  At that point the tears started to flow as I knew she had done it.  All our hard work had finally paid off.  I know I am biased but to me her work had been absolutely amazing.  The icing on the cake was when she was also given the Guns’ Award and I was told she was a fantastic dog.  It is, after all, the guns who we are working for.

Karen Saynor.


David Holmes (our Training Manager!!) got a 3rd place at a trial last week.  So please see below his experience of running his springer in a novice trial:

Worcester Gun Dog Society – Novice A.V. Spaniel Field Trial – 25th January 2013

Having entered 8 field trials in January I had managed to get a run in 3 of them and all 3 in the same week. However, the snow intervened;  the trial near Leicester was called off, quickly followed by the one near Hereford. That left Worcester and, although they had snow, the trial was going ahead.

I was familiar with the ground which is excellent woodland and, being a wood, I reckoned that it should be reasonably snow free. Which was good.

Darcey, my young springer had, like most youngsters, taken to the snow and likes nothing better than to mess around in it to the extent that training was taking a back seat to fun. Which was bad.

So, the thought of a woodland trial with maybe a bit of a light snow cover seemed ok. Unfortunately, my reasoning was wrong: the wood was full of snow, covering fellings, brashings and brambles  which, in turn, meant tight sitting birds when they could be found. An altogether different proposition.

If there was any message being transmitted down the lead to Darcey, as our first run approached, it was along the lines ‘don’t mess me around – little madam’ and, as an afterthought,–‘ please’.

And then we were in.

First up, introductions to the Judge, with him pointing out the direction of travel of my beat, my right hand Gun in the middle of the wood and my left hand Gun on a forest ride. I’m told to hunt her where I think she might find game and at my own pace as he will just follow me. The left hand side looks most promising as there is more cover where the wood meets  the track.

Lead off and away we go with Darcey immediately into, under and through some brashings before quartering back to some cover on my right and then back across to the left and more cover and suddenly Flush – the familiar wing beat sound of a pheasant getting up and out toward the track and her sat still, head poking through the cover, waiting for the gunshot which never comes. ‘Gun – are you there’ shouts the Judge, ‘Yes’ comes the reply. He gives me a look that says ‘well why didn’t you shoot then’ before telling me to carry on.

Then more quartering  with her hunting quickly and with serious intent. Flush, familiar wing beat sound , her sitting waiting only this time there is gunshot but the bird is away. Off we go again her like a dervish, me battling through the trees, the Judge with a bloodied face. Flush and this time the gun reckons the bird is pricked. ‘Hurry, come up to the track and bring your dog’ says the Judge. Emerging from the wood, the gun points down the ride and says he ‘thinks’ the bird has dropped back into the wood but about 100yards away: there is much muttering about disturbing birds further up especially as there is uncertainty about the ‘pricked’ bird so the decision is to not to chance a retrieve.

Ok, off we go again – more cover bashing and Flush but the bird is missed again! A bit more hunting and then it’s lead on and the Judge telling me to let Judge No2 know that I need a retrieve. ‘So I’ve got a second run then?’ says I. ‘Oh yes – you’ve got a second run’.

I don’t know who is more exhausted; I’m definitely running on adrenalin at the end of what is, ultimately, a disappointing run as there is no retrieve but was exhilarating whilst it lasted! She is quick and fearless as she drives into the cover but makes it look effortless as she twists, turns and flows through it, over it and under it.  As to her – well, she appears quite unfazed by the whole thing. So, I give her a drink, put her coat on and await our second run.

The second run is not as good and doesn’t flow because of too many interruptions. The dogs on the other side are getting flushes and game is being shot so we have to wait for their retrieves, wait for new dogs to come into line, wait as the keeper moves us to a different area and then we are going in the wrong direction; and all the while she is not getting a flush at all. The waiting doesn’t seem to bother her and there is none of her usual fidgeting as she sits patiently.  Then she is into cover, tail flashing, I’m stood anxiously waiting and out flies………… a blackbird. ‘Damn, this is hopeless!’ She keeps hunting away, still as quick and still as purposeful and then the cock pheasant gets up about 6 feet away, flies toward the gun who brings it down about 20 yards away. ‘Send your dog’ says Judge No 2 and out she goes and brings it back. A simple……. straightforward…….. bread and butter retrieve; nothing flashy and nothing that’s going to win a trial. ‘That’ll do you’ he says ‘put your lead on’.

So now we just have to await the result.

On reflection, I feel we have done well: we have completed both runs, had a retrieve and she has worked hard in the cover but, not having seen most of the other dogs’ runs, it is difficult to know how well. However, talking to one or two other competitors my expectation moves up a notch to: maybe a Certificate of Merit (CoM)?

However, when the results are announced, in reverse order, I find that I haven’t got a CoM after all but a third place. Wow!

1st Beggarbush Celt  – handled by Ben Randall

2nd Timsgarry Swallow – handled by Ben Randall

3rd Colcourt Cracker – handled by David Holmes

I now have my certificate, rosette and my £5 third prize but, best of all, I’m told that she is now classed as a Field Trial Award Winner (FTAW).

I’m made up over the placing and can’t wait to tell the people who have helped me, over the 12 months I’ve had her, that we’ve had some success.

So, in the manner reserved for those who actually win the trial rather than just come third, a big, big thanks to all that have helped me (more so) and Darcey (less so) get to a position where I can enter a trial with confidence and know that we can compete with the rest of the dogs on the card.



 Posted by at 15:12