by: Kate Haglin, Age 13, Fort Ripley, MN
My heart is racing as I walk up to the judge with my English Springer Spaniel, Yanta. I am about to show the judge how much we have learned together. I make Yanta sit, looking at me, waiting for the signal to start hunting.
“Okay, Kate. Let’s see what your dog can do,” says the judge.
“Let’s go!” I tell my dog. Yanta streaks out, running in a very nice pattern, looking and smelling for birds. I blast my whistle two times, telling him to turn. We do this pattern, called quartering, three more times.
I’m watching Yanta very closely, knowing he’s smelling out a bird in the middle of the dew-slickened field. The gallery, the gunners, and the judge all watch my dog to see if he finds the bird. No pressure at all!
Suddenly, a pheasant jumps from the field and takes flight. My dog obediently sits down like he was trained to do. I’m so nervous, my palms sweating, whistle fidgeting in my mouth, pleading in my head for the gunners to shoot this bird.
Bang! Bang! The bird goes down. Yanta is still sitting. I’m waiting for the tap on my back from the judge telling me I can send my dog on this retrieve. I feel the tap on my back and in a shaky voice I shout, “YANTA!!”
Yanta bolts off after the bird. I wait for what seems like an eternity. Finally, Yanta pokes his head out from a bush, bird in mouth. The strong adrenaline rush I felt moments ago is gone, leaving me shaken. I blow my whistle telling Yanta to come to me. My dog returns with the huge bird in his mouth! Smiling like a kid with candy, I hand the wet bird to the judge.
He puts it in his vest and says, “Thank you Kate! You and your dog did very well.” I put my leash on Yanta and walk off the field grinning.
This is what Yanta and I both love to do. They are called English Springer Spaniel field trials, or “trials” for short. This was based off of a trial in 2019 in which Yanta and I competed.
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