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months old and those that didn't get steadied until they were 18 or 20 months old. Both extremes produced field trial champions, although the quicker developing puppy was the most likely to become the champion prospect, some slower developers also became outstanding dogs.

"It is far easier to have a steady dog if you don't teach it to be unsteady first."

Initially the training of the 3 older dogs involved basic obedience training, steadying to dummies, and hunting along the lakeside for flushes and developing their hunting pattern. No shooting was being done at this time. "Stat" was already earmarked for Jack Riepenhoff. He was hunting with intensity, speed, and style especially for a dog barely one year old. The one thing I couldn't get him to do was sit on the point of flush. Rather than chasing he would flush boldly, I would blow the hup whistle, and he would run back to me and sit by my side. Some weeks after I had arrived Talbot said to me "Stat is ready to shoot over so I will go out with you and take my gun." (From Talbot's house he had a view all along the lake and could watch the dogs without leaving his living room). I mentioned this problem of not sitting at the point of flush. I was told this wouldn't be a problem as long as he wasn't chasing after the flush and he would soon get over this once game was being shot for him. During this conversation I will always remember Talbot saying to me, "When I have my gun, whatever I shoot at is dead." At the time I thought this was a pretty bold statement. Over the years I learned to take much of what Talbot said with a pinch of salt if not a great lump of salt, but this statement was pretty close to the truth. Over the years there were very few occasions that Talbot missed what he was shooting at. On those few occasions one looked in amazement to make sure it was he shooting and then thought it must have been a dud cartridge.

It was early October and we went to a farm bordering Presaddfed Estate with Stat. That afternoon we worked Stat on stubble fields along hedgerows and through rough grass. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. We were out for a few hours. As I recall we came back with about half a dozen head of game mixed between pheasant, partridge, and hare. Every flush Stat would come back and sit by my side. Every shot Talbot made something dropped dead. When a covey of partridge flushed two shots were fired and two birds dropped dead. I would have to work Stat back to the retrieve as he was too busy running back to me to mark the fall. It was only a few more of these sessions and Stat was sitting where he flushed game and watching for it to fall. Talbot adjusted my handling in two main ways. When game was shot he told me to wait a good thirty seconds before sending the dog. This was in marked contrast to the American style of sending a dog almost as soon as the bird hits the ground. He also told me not to follow a dog all over the countryside when they start tracking foot scent. If the dog starts taking you off the line you are walking call the dog off the line and carry on quartering the dog. A few weeks later the shooting parties began to arrive. Driven pheasant shooting was to begin. This was completely different type of dog work. With 6 or 8 beaters working spaniels in a line it would have been complete chaos if every beater followed their dogs taking foot scent. Although driven shooting was initially quite a spectacle to someone who had never seen it done before, the rough shooting was always by far the most interesting and enjoyable way to work a spaniel. During the early years at Saighton kennels I remember many times taking a few spaniels out for a morning or afternoon hunting. We would come back with a real mixed bag consisting of hares, rabbits, pheasants, partridge, snipe, ducks, and woodcock. The dogs worked all sorts of covers from hedgerows, ditches, and pastures to marshland and turnip fields. By my way of thinking this was what spaniels were developed for and was very exciting when the spaniel was a top class trial prospect. There was no better way of giving a young dog the experience to handle all sorts of situations. Later on the pressures of the commercial shooting at Presaddfed made this type of dog work more difficult to access.

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