Handlers Relish the Super Retriever Series Challenge
Training retrievers is more of a calling than a profession in many cases. It takes dedication to an extreme along with a generous amount of talent in working with animals. Daylight until dark are the normal working hours, not the exception. But without the professional trainer, we would have no idea what these dogs are capable of. A question was posed to three SRS veteran handlers, what aspect of the SRS appeals most to you? Here are their answers.
Lyle Steinman and his Castile Creek Kennels in Gower, Missouri, have been turning out top dogs for many years. In fact, he and his dogs have claimed the SRS Crown Championship a record six times. “If there was ever a game designed for my kennel, the SRS is it,” Lyle said with conviction. “I like to run dogs at long distances and this prepares them well for the test and trial type format. This type of competition makes an average AKC Master Hunter dog better. It makes them better thinkers where test complexity doesn’t bother them anymore.”
Clark Kennington lives and trains in the hills of Mississippi near the small town of Duck Hill and owns and operates Kennington Retrievers. He started running in the SRS five years ago and has two wins under his belt in 2014 and 2016. “The SRS format requires a complete dog in order to play it. It’s the only retriever game that does this. A dog can’t be a strong marker and weak on blinds and vice versa to succeed. They have to be able to cover every base so it challenges you as a trainer to prepare them for anything.”
Lee Howard trains for Mossy Pond Retrievers in Patterson, Georgia. In his four years taking on the SRS challenge he has claimed two titles and multiple placements. “The best part of the SRS is the element of facing the unexpected. Every set up is different and the judges do an excellent job of mixing it up. So, you must take that into account and prepare for any scenario. Also, I really like the competitive aspect of the SRS. I primarily run dogs in hunting tests and you lack that element in that arena,” Lee concluded.
That is the draw for top professional trainers to the SRS, a unique venue that pushes their skills to the limit.
by John Gordon of Avery Outdoors