I first met Frank 18 months ago my ESS was coming up for 6 months and I needed a gundog trainer to put me on the right track. I googled trainers and found Franks website it sounded interesting with some good testimonials included so I plucked up the courage and rang him, I’m so glad I did as he has been excellent from our first lesson with him. I remember the first lesson vividly it was February and pouring with rain, as I drove to his house I nearly turned round as I was nervous and asking myself do I really want to do this. But I didn’t and the lesson was certainly different!! I really didn’t know what to expect as I was a complete newbie to the world of gundogs what I got from the first lesson was a complete revelation, he had me square bashing!! My young Springer watched on in bemusement sitting completely still through it all. I came away from the lesson with my homework and a date for the second lesson aswell as the words ‘advance’ and ‘about turn’ ringing in my ears!! Frank had made an impression on me and I was determined to get things right for the next session. I worked hard with my little dog and she made good progress right from the word go.
I continued to see Frank twice a month in the initial stages, he didn’t rush things but expected me to put the work in being consistent with the commands and style and he would know if this wasn’t the case, I must have got things right as he has never yet made me do press-ups!! Each session I came away with homework only moving on to the next stage when I was happy and the dog was achieving. Frank always made sure that I was happy and confident with each lesson, allowing for questions if needed.
In May Frank asked me to help out at a BASC retriever gundog test, he needed dummy throwers and marshals I jumped at the chance as I could watch close up at the professionals and get some tips. What I witnessed fuelled me on even further with my Springer, I was so impressed with some of the dogs abilities it was incredible, I also had a sneaky peak at the spaniel test going on at the same time. Again I was excited by what I saw and decided then I wanted to enter competitions. This is a hard, competitive world to enter so I knew I had my work cut out for me. I met some lovely people at the test who I now see regularly at Frank’s group training sessions.
Since helping Frank at the gundog test I continued to have regular sessions with him and we went from strength to strength progressing from dummies to cold game. In the September I plucked up the courage and entered my dog in her first spaniel working test and boy was I nervous. It was a very enjoyable day spent with like minded people who were feeling just as nervous, the judges were very kind knowing it was our first test and I was in the category of first-time handler. All the way through the test I could hear Franks voice in my head as I tried to stay calm and put all his instructions to the test. The judges were very complimentary and liked my dog and she performed very well retrieving all her dummies and hunting well but I wasn’t really sure how we had done. When the time came to look at the score sheet I was amazed that we were in the run off for first place in the ‘first time handler’ section, sadly at the end of the day we came second but this didn’t dampen my spirits as my dog performed brilliantly and the judge’s comments were all positive telling me I should be proud of my dog. I came away with a big smile on my face and couldn’t wait to phone Frank.
It is now 18months down the line and each training session is still just as important I see Frank once a month now in a group setting with the occasional one to one if I am having problems. My Springer did some beating and picking up last year on a friends shoot and she did very well for her first season ( I didn’t disgrace myself either!) and we have even been invited back this year. Earlier this year we achieved the ‘Working Gundog Certificate’ through the London Cocker Spaniel Society, (Field section) and are eligible to collect this at Crufts next year on the gundog day which is very exciting. In October the spaniel field trials start so that is our next natural progression and I am looking forward to that.
All this would not be possible without Frank’s tuition aswell as teaching me how to train my dog he has also given me the confidence to enter the world of working tests and field trials which is very daunting but exciting at the same time.
We have come along way since that rainy day back in 2010 and I have enjoyed every minute of it, I have met some lovely people some of which are now friends. But we still have a lot to learn and I’m hoping Frank will continue to be there for us.
I cannot recommend Frank highly enough I am so glad I plucked up the courage to go to that first lesson he has been a great tutor for me and I have liked his style right from the word go (even the square bashing bit!) But the most important lesson Frank taught me in the initial stages was how to gain an understanding of how my dog thinks and I have never looked back since.
Sue Musselwhite July 2011