Not to hijack, however some of those tests seem to be about training and less about marking, which the derby is supposed to be stressing.
I would like to add to the discussion on the technical aspects of the marks. The dog needs to be completely de-cheated on water entries as virtually all of the derbies I ran a couple years ago included a cheating element on the water marks. Also the dog needs to understand not returning to an old fall. I think most dogs that I remember being dropped from competition was because they returned to old falls. This may sound simple, but many judges have a way of setting up tests to really entice a return to an old fall. As mentioned before, two down the shore is a good method, also a tight hip pocket throw with the long bird the go bird and the short bird gun station not being visible enroute, but with the long gun station clearly visible on a knoll or something. Anyway, my take home from derbies is they are really tough usually and I would not run a young dog until it is really steady on the line, doing tight doubles a high percentage of time in training and very reliable on getting in the water and holding a line. My dog was not that great on line manners when I ran derbies and now at 4 years old, I am still fighting her on line manners....some of that problem I think started because I ran her in derbies before she was rock solid on the line. Good luck and have fun with your dog!
As someone who has only run one derby, you can take my advice with a large pinch of salt, LOL.
My pup already had her JH and RN titles when we went to the chessie specialty last year in Cascade, ID. I had never even SEEN a derby, but everyone encouraged us to enter. We were there a day early, so I got to watch one full day of upper level dogs running before the derby started, and asked a lot of questions. Skill-wise, we were ready, although we had only practiced long marks for 2 weeks before we went, as we had been training for junior right up until that time. It was loads of fun! I am seriously tempted to find another couple of derbies to enter this spring. Granted, open derbies are probably more difficult and competitive than a special, but for an owner handler who isn't worried about competing with client dogs (and therefore spending someone else's money!) it's an oportunity to gain experience and learn something new. I fully expected to go out on the first series: I didn't go expecting to be competitive. What I expected was to learn, observe, meet people, and give it a shot, and we did. Actually, we ended up in the ribbons, but that was pure luck, LOL.
For now, keep on asking questions and try to practice some of the new stuff so you and your dog won't be taken aback by sometime completely unexpected. The main thing I worked on with my girl was stretching her out with lots of loooong singles and line manners. I was not in the habit of "pointing out" the gun stations, someone told me about that on the first day. Taking time to let her look and get the feel for where the gunners were was new to us both, but she picked up on that right away, even though we really did it the first time in the first series. You can start doing that now so you'll be ready :)
Love the encouragement! And hearing everyone's experiences with their first time. We're not trying to get on the Derby list nor am I spending anyone else's money (cept my husbands!) So I think we'll go for it. She's been doing long marks and doubles for months and is a naturally good lining dog, even through obstacles and water. She has very good line manners and steadiness, though I have been saying a quite "stay" inbetween the first and second marks of a double. Will do some de-cheating training the next 4 weeks and see what we can do. Sunshine and 63 degree temps for the next two weeks here on the Nor Cal coast.
Another good source to learn about derbies (and other FT stakes) is the Judges Manual produced by Retriever News. A number of very knowledgeable people contributed to it.
What are the distances of the marks? Is there a difference in the lenght between land and water marks? Thanks
Second series, go bird on left, long bird on right at 436 yards. Both thrown in.
Don't wanna high jack this thread but what age are derby dogs when they are really competitive? I know you can run them till there 2 but what age are most of the winners?