Taking a straight line to a Marked Retrieve

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Taking a straight line to a Marked Retrieve

Postby Bob Pickworth » Mon 16 Aug 2021 11:56 am

Having plenty of time available at the moment for training, researching literature and watching relevant DVDs, I have a question related to lining a Marked Retrieve (as opposed to a Blind).

All things being equal, should a dog that takes a direct line to a Marked Retrieve be allocated higher points than one that takes an irregular line e.g.a “banana line” ?

Closely reviewing the rules, I can really only see rules 2, 3 and 94 as being the most directly relevant in terms of assessing / allocating points on a marked retrieve.

The reason for the question arises from a comment by Mike Lardy on “Total Retriever Training” Disc 4 - Advanced Techniques, where he states “Although we are teaching the line on Mark’s, that is not what judges should be looking for. What they should be looking for, is, does the dog know where the bird is? and that should not be necessarily judged on the line the dog takes to the bird. Some judges have training so ingrained on their mind that they give much higher credit to a straight line to the bird, than a banana line or a line that goes around some cover. They are supposed to be evaluating does the dog know where the bird is”?

To my mind, In most instances, a direct line is more efficient with less opportunity for distraction and assuming the pickup, carry and delivery are on equal terms, a straight line will occur “more briskly and quickly” (rule 2).
Rule 3 also states “Accurate marking or memory of falls is of paramount importance. However, this does not imply that dogs that excel in marking, should not be penalised for other faults. Ability to mark does not necessarily imply pinpointing a fall..”

Is not taking a straight line (to a Marked Retrieve) a “fault” to be penalised?
Bob Pickworth
 
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Re: Taking a straight line to a Marked Retrieve

Postby Paul Hamson » Wed 18 Aug 2021 8:10 am

Hi Bob – As you have taken the time to ask the question I am happy to answer it from my personal perspective.

My general scoring philosophy is I am looking for the “perfect picture” and anything less than perfect gets less than 65. If the picture becomes a Picasso abstract then you’re eliminated from competition. The “perfect picture” for a mark is – the dog focuses on the flight of the bird and once sent takes a direct route to the area of the fall and pins the bird, the dog then returns on a direct line and delivers the bird. For a multiple mark the dog then clearly indicates memory of the other bird(s) and repeats the process.

Whilst marking is not a lining test, the line to the mark obviously plays a part in setting and evaluating the run, for example there may be heavy cover or water etc. on the direct line. Excessive avoidance of the obstacles may indicate a lack of courage and affect the dog’s score. Obstacles and terrain such as a side-slope, water, cover etc, may also cause the dog to drop off the line and miss the area of the fall or forget the area of the fall entirely. This obviously affects their score.

At times there may be a virtually impenetrable obstacle on the line e.g. a massive blackberry bush. In that case I would expect the dog to divert around the obstacle and then reorient itself back onto the line. Of course, if a dog surprises you and goes straight through you would definitely reward it for courage.

On multiple marks, a dog that clearly indicates memory of/marks all the birds, should be significantly rewarded over dogs that have to be handled or excessively lined.

Dogs that do not mark and fail to take a relatively direct line to the area of the fall, or hunt out of the area, should be penalised. Dogs that need to be handled should be penalised, dogs that pop on the way out to a mark should be penalised. Dogs that drift slightly downwind of the area of the fall should score slightly less than dogs that run directly to the area of the fall.

Regards
Paul Hamson

The US book “Retriever Field Trial Judging – A Manual” (available at “theretrievernews.com”) is the best book I have read relating to the logic of judging and discusses “Marking – Land and Water” in its section on the evaluation of dog work. Some relevant extracts that may be of interest and probably relate to Lardy’s comments include:

“The line to the mark may be evaluated in different ways. Generally the line to the mark is not nearly as important as the area of the hunt for the mark… Given very similar hunts, the dog with the straightest line to the mark merits the highest score, although the score may not be substantially higher than a dog whose line was not perfectly straight.”

“A dog that returns with the bird “off-line” or runs around the water on the return should not be substantially outscored by the dog that returns by water, unless the avoidance is extreme.”

“Marking remains of primary importance and should dominate the evaluation of the dog’s performance on a marked retrieve.”

“Marking is of primary importance… reflects the accuracy with which the dog locates and finds a fallen bird. Accuracy refers to the dog’s ability to remember the “area” of the fall…”

“A dog that proceeds to the area of the fall and sticks with the hunt within the defined area until the bird is found has done a commendable job… a dog that goes straight to the bird and finds it without a hunt, in other words pins the bird, must be given an excellent score…”

“A dog that fails to proceed to the area of the fall and hunts out of the area to eventually stumble on the mark may have “failed” the mark…”

“… a dog that does not proceed directly to the area of the fall, runs all over, and is eventually handled to the bird may be eliminated. However, a dog that does not proceed directly to the area, but quickly handles to the bird may be retained for additional testing.”

“Evaluation of marked retrieves should also take into consideration other natural abilities, such as “courage”, the dog’s willingness to penetrate cover, “perseverance”, the dog’s ability to stick with the hunt in the area of the fall until it comes up with the bird, and “style”.

“Conspicuously intensive lining or excessive lining to a mark should be penalized… However, a skilled handler who quickly lines up and send his/her dog (even if it appears to be a forgotten bird) should not be penalized. Keep in mind, a dog returning to line for a subsequent retrieve that attentively looks out in the direction of the next fall may be given extra credit.”
Paul Hamson
 
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Re: Taking a straight line to a Marked Retrieve

Postby Bob Pickworth » Thu 19 Aug 2021 8:03 am

Many thanks Paul, very helpful to get your perspective (be great to get some other judges perspectives, hopefully more responses will be offered).
I’ll definitely get a copy of the book.
Bob Pickworth
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed 17 Mar 2004 9:05 pm
Location: Kurrajong NSW

Re: Taking a straight line to a Marked Retrieve

Postby Paul Hamson » Thu 19 Aug 2021 8:16 am

Thanks Bob
I am sure if you posted it on the Retrieving Facebook page you would get a lot more response. The book is excellent and provides really detailed insights into judging retrieving trials.
Regards
Paul
Paul Hamson
 
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Joined: Thu 15 Mar 2007 9:19 am
Location: Lake Macquarie NSW

Re: Taking a straight line to a Marked Retrieve

Postby Diane McCann » Wed 25 Aug 2021 5:40 pm

Hi Bob, it's a good question and one that I have raised around the camp fire at trials myself. I generally feel that sometimes there is too much emphasis on lines to marks as, as you say, the whole test is does the dog know where the bird is? So if the dog avoids an obstacle such as thick cover and takes itself off line then it will score slightly less than the dog that takes on that cover and goes straight through, but not hugely so. The test is does the dog run straight to the area of fall (straight as in quickly and with intent, not straight as in a direct line) and stay tightly in that area hunting the bird out? If yes then it will gain high marking points and for a marked retrieve the marking points are the majority of the score. There is also the added consideration of use of wind, a smart hunting dog will fade with the wind to give itself the greatest chance of scenting the bird from downwind. Should this be penalised? I don't think so, as long as the dog demonstrates that it knows the area of all and is planning to hunt that area. Compare to the dog that runs dead straight and bolts well past the bird on the upwind side without slowing down to indicate it has reached the area of fall?
Diane
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