When Just Surviving isn’t Enough Anymore

The first year when I started to participate field trials, I was happy if I managed to stay there for more than ten minutes and that I survived the day.?

There were so many things to think about. My dog was inexperienced and not completely sure about all the behaviors, and it was the same for me. So, I had to try and be a balanced dog handler, who supports the dog, and at the same time try not to make a lot of mistakes myself, so that I didn’t do or say something that would disqualify us. There are many strange things that can disqualify you from a field trial for spaniels …

The second year I started to feel a little more secure in the situation, but at the same time I had new challenges, and Tassla suddenly developed immensely when it came to hunting; she hunted in a slow and quite sad way at first, but suddenly she got the shooter’s prize at a field trial. I had to take a little break to keep up with my dog. A luxury problem, of course. ?

During the third year I started at nine field trials  thanks to my bonus dog Kat. I learned more that year than I did during the other two years together. Everything that I learned I used on the next occasion and could therefore do everything better and better. I have learned so much the hard way, it’s almost laughable. But during that year, I actually managed to do a whole working test – thanks to Kat. I don’t think it is usual that people get that happy about a certificate. ? I was euphoric. I really did EVERYTHING I could to handle Kat so that she could do her job.

Now, when it’s the fourth year it’s no longer enough for me to just survive. I have also managed to do two field trials with Tassla with a good result. “Congratulations you have received a prize at a field trial for spaniels, that is an achievement”, a friend said to me, who already had started on many trials. I suspected a little bit of sarcasm when she said that. ?But it felt great anyhow! Once, when I did one of those tests, I was the only one who received a prize, all the other eleven competitors were disqualified.

Twice last fall, Tassla received a prize. Both times only a third prize though, and it didn’t feel good at all. Now I wanted to have a first prize. How difficult can it be? There are a lot of different things that the judges can disapprove of, though – those possibilities are infinite ?. Some things are hard to understand, and others are quite clear. But that is always the case when it comes to personal evaluations. You just have to accept it and go home and think about how you can improve those things that weren’t too great in the view of the judge and in the view of yourself.

But if it doesn’t feel as if a third prize is good enough it might be good to remind myself about how much we have learned – Tassla and I. My expectations of myself and Tassla are higher because I know what we can do when everything works perfectly. In such a situation, it is good to remember that I have learned a lot, but that I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think that you ever can complete your skills entirely.

It is also good to remind myself about the fact that I have an amazing little hunting dog. So many people, that I meet when I while hunting, praise her work. How she indefatigably flushes 100 pheasants in one day and follow all my signals (or at least 95 percent of them ?). She is a marvelous dog when it comes to finding game. We have so much fun and are such a great team in those situations. And then suddenly that prize isn’t so very important. It feels totally okay to start at a field trial again. And again. Because the prize isn’t the most important thing anymore – it’s still a lot of fun. And we learn lot. ?

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