Stewarding at a working test is an exciting experience. You get to see all sorts of dogs in action, and you learn a lot about how different breeds work. It can be challenging at times, but it’s definitely worth it!
In this blog post, Charlotte Bell, LWDG Society Member, talks to us through her first-ever time at a test where she ended up as a steward…
After the advice so kindly given to me on the Dog and Duck live group coaching call the other week regarding learning more about working tests , I went to watch one. And I got the job of stewarding the puppy group for the morning – I got a clipboard and everything!
Here are a few things that I experienced and thought I would share for others who are new to all of this and maybe considering going to watch or compete.
Charlotte’s Top Tips
- I’d never been to a working test and had only been beating on about three shoots in my life – so I am a total newcomer to all of this. Don’t be intimidated if you are the only one turning up in a white Corsa with black alloys – be proud that you made it down the estate tracks (and back) without losing your undercarriage or exhaust.
- Start a 4×4 savings fund.
- It might be scary turning up on your own, but quite a lot of others had – so I just took the plunge and went and said a few ‘hellos’ to the people on their own – and I had some lovely conversations.
- Offering to help out was great because I had something to do rather than just feel totally like a spectator (but I think it would be OK to go and watch with someone who’s running a dog, too, quite a few people were doing this)
- I didn’t pay much interest in anyone’s dog, as I wasn’t sure of etiquette and didn’t want to piss anyone off, but I did fuss a few dogs after they had done their tests – people seemed a bit more relaxed after that!
- There were quite a lot of ladies, more than I thought there might be, this was really great to see, and I talked to all of them who I met in the puppy test – there were a lot of friendly men too!
- The tests didn’t look as bad as I imagined they would be. In the puppy, a hunt up (think that’s what its called), sit to shot (clap of hands, or starter pistol), retrieve – that was it! And two puppies go at once, one on the left and one on the right – s they were sitting to the other one’s shot and waiting while the other retrieved. Then later they went again, but the other way round. So each dog went under each judge. Novice was the same, with a blind retrieve after the seen retrieve -and it covered a bit more ground in general but was still over quite quickly.
- The judges were approachable and explained to competitors what was going on if this was their first working test – and it looked like they also gave a good de-brief at the end of the test.
- Knowing what to expect and what you will be tested on must make it easier and give you confidence. I would have been bricking it totally turning up there to compete, having not even seen it. (I was bricking it turning up as a spectator, if I’m really honest).
- Funny moment – the first dog picked up a beer can out of the bracken after about 20 seconds and retrieved it straight to hand – a real crowd pleaser! (not sure if this was an elimination or they were joking, but he carried on!)
- It was nice to see a few faces of those who I had met at the local gun dog club training day a few weeks ago, and there was a lot longer to chat at the working test as there was a lot of standing around.
- With so much standing around, it was a great chance to share stories, pick up advice, and troubleshoot with people who have been doing this for many years.
- If you need a pee, you need to pee in the woods – if you don’t like doing that, then also see it as a working test of your bladder control – I won’t comment on my performance.
- I didn’t see anyone’s dogs run off and no one looked stressed.
So all in all, a good day out and maybe next time I’ll take the dog!
I came away thinking, that there’s nothing really to lose going to one of these working tests and everything to gain. Fresh air, good conversation, new experiences and the dogs seemed to love it.
It was a great experience; I’d encourage anyone to go along and watch/help out to see what working tests are like.
A big thank you to Charlotte for writing this guest post for our community! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us via our Facebook page or Instagram account.
Have you been to a working test before? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comment section below
If you enjoyed reading this post, you may enjoy our masterclass on
‘An introduction to Field Trials, the dos & dont’s , along with a splash of etiquette.’ by Sarah Miles
Rules of competing can be found on most group websites or on the Kennel Club Website
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