Running a derby is not a piece of cake, it's not like running a junior in a hunt test. I personally wouldn’t run a derby until I spent the whole day at least watching one and asking questions from the people in the gallery. If you are going to the trial in Corning CA that starts the first of Feb., you will be able to see some great derby dogs that were trained by some of the best trainers in the business. Enjoy the trial and best of luck to you.
Thanks Terry, I plan on attending at Corning for the sole purpose of watching to make sure we're ready before the Anderson or Gridley Trial. I know competition and standards are high, but gotta start somewhere. My pup is pretty awesome, not sure her handler can rise to the occasion, but I hope to re-assess after watching at Corning.
Thanks to all for the info!!
Derby is, and should be, about Pin-Point Marking.
Your dog is basically ready to run Derby if he's able to do a rather complicated cheating single as the memory mark of a double. This means stepping on big long ass marks without needing much help at all.
Your dog should be seeing duck flyers often, at least once a week. Your dog should hopefully not be a gun runner.
He should have been introduced to retired guns or at least been exposed to guns that disappear from view in route. You will not see retired guns in a Derby, however often there is rolling terrain or swims where dogs cannot see guns for part of the way.
For running your dog try not to over think it and keep to the bare basics since you'll be running your first one.
Most people will come out of the holding blind and casually sit their dog on the mat without much fussing and give dog a moment to survey the situation and identify the guns on their own. Take your time with this as no one is likely to pressure you.
Next it's time to get busy and line him up on the long mark. (Your dog should spot the flyer station no problem so best not to point it out to him further) Give him your verbal cues "Mark" or "Watch" for the long gun and when he's staring that mark down real good, and not eye balling the flyer, maybe tell him "good" or "right there" or whatever you say. (verbal cues are a good thing). Give him one more Sit command to lock him in, then quickly signal judges. No need for you to look up at long dead bird being thrown because you should already know where that ones going to land anyway. Do have a peek at the flyer as it's shot so you know where it lands. Otherwise don't take your eyes off of your dog.
So, if your dog can mark, has been decheated and count to two, go for it and have fun.
Just go run one, that's the way to find out what they are about. You can't know if your dog can do it if you don't enter.
If your dog is awesome like you think, she will help you out. In my first FT I had mine lined up to watch the marks go off in the wrong order, but she's smarter than me and figured it out!
Folks around here are awfully nice to the newbs, and the judges are understanding. You'll have a blast.
Jennifer, "Don't let these dorks bother you,they have the winter crazies" :p
Seriously though, pay your dollar and take your chance.
You will have a much greater understanding of field trials on Monday morning. Take in as much as you can. ie don't leave when/if your dog goes out... Stay ,watch, learn.
Good luck and have fun.
Jen, Derby is not easy. Doesn't mean you shouldn't take a shot at it. Go see a couple and train with some people who have run/are running Derby. As RND said, you will have a greater understanding of field trials. Also, as WRL posted, there will be technical marks.
From a fella that ran his first derbies last year ,Breck seems right on the money. Print his explanation out and tape it to the windshield of the truck so you can read it while on the way to the derby.:D