July 9th 2019

See puppies page for more details




12th August 2018


Good day for the Binneybottom babes yesterday - Blue (Binneybottom Bullfrog Blue at Grayspeed) won the Novice Test

and Konta (Binneybottom Moonchild at Grayspeed) came 3rd in the Puppy test.

Both the youngest dogs in their classes. 




24th June 2018


Binneybottom Bullfrog Blue at Grayspeed

Blue 11months in his first working test and came 1st







May 2018


The Binney Bottom Babes Konta and Blue and their yellow friends 

the Skanseara Scamps sister and brother Rose and Chaffer all aged 10 months 




May 6th 2018


 Veteran Test winner

FTW Grayspeed Kapuki (Gucci)

This win completes Gucci's set of Working Test wins Puppy - Novice - Open - Veteran and top dog in a team competition



MAY 2018


Binneybottom Babes at Grayspeed - Konta and Blue 9 months old and very bright






February 2018

A memory on a wet February day!

The dog learnt to go down the line, follow a shot string and pick a rabbit. The man ran a tight fair ship and the training was second to none. By the end of the second day the dog had learnt a lot, and the man said send the dog to a thick cover filled ravine some 70yards away. Nobody questioned the man to the fact nothing had been shot in that area.

The dog was sent in a fast straight line and hit the area, and was told to hunt. The dog held the area and flushed a healthy rabbit but knew not to chase. The dog hunted every patch of the thick cover with enthusiasm, now and then touching scent.

‘Call him in’ the man said, and when the dog got back the man gave me a look and said nothing. That look in the man’s eyes was a wealth of experience that in itself and for a split second told me he liked the dog, and still nothing was said.

The man died some years ago of Big C; I wish I could have got to know him better as the dog went on to do well and I would have liked to have told the man, but I expect he knew the dog would come good given a chance.







September 10th 2017



 The two new members of the Grayspeed Gang

Binneybottom Bullfrog Blue (Blue) & Binneybottom Moonchild (Konta)



September 8th 2017

Leejay about to leave for his new home with Marianne in Switzerland

where he will be trained to be a mountain rescue dog




August 21st 2017 

All Kat's puppies have now found their new homes





10th July 2017


RIP Jambo


Much loved amazing dog

16  1/2 years old


We will miss him so much





15th June 2017

Golden Retriever puppies expected mid July

See Puppies page





11th June 2017


No working tests for us today so we went to a show.

Danny 1st and Enzi 2nd in working breeds class and Enzi 4th in Open any breed class.

No pressure - just fun!







30th April 2017

Gucci (Grayspeed Kapuki ) comes out of retirement to win Westward GS AV Open working test.  Kat (Pussy) could not run as she is in season and engaged to Rooney (Tallygold Mulberry)!!




21st August 2016


West Dartmoor Working  Gundog Club Novice GWT







7th August 2016


(Highest scoring dog)

Cornwall Field Trial Society

Open Team Test for AV Retrievers 7 x 3 dog teams competed


The Countryman's Fair Werrington Park




July 2016


Champion Tut looking for more business - studs and dog food.  I gave him a 20 for trying so hard




June 2016

1958 Robin Gray aged 12 years with first gundog Lady and first shotgun

A very long time ago!





November 2015


Good evening Robin and Sue, hope you are both well and enjoying some sport with your dogs.  Just thought it might be a good idea to thank you again for your help and especially directing us to to the NDWGC spaniel training course.


Daniel the spaniel has now been on two shoot days with a local small syndicate and has been very good indeed.  He sits to the whistle on his flushes and remains sat till told to move, he hunts close and always under control with the whistle, only hunting when I direct him and stops to the whistle every time I ask.  He does not run in when a shot goes off or a bird is down.  His only chance of a retrieve so far has been a rabbit which was a blind and he handled onto it nicely and brought to hand.


I am very pleased with this young dog and all the comments the guns have made about him have been highly complimentary.


This would never have been possible if I hadn't come for that lesson with you and you hadn't been so honest and helpful.  I was way out of my depth and didn't even understand the basics.  It's thanks to you and the guys at the NDWGC that I now have a dog that may well make something better than the average beater's spaniel.


Again big thanks and I wish you all the best for the season ahead.





September 2015 




We have received the following email from the Knori family in Switzerland

"I am very happy to inform you that Dart and Annatina have passed their final exam.

The whole test lasts about 8 hours.  Dart had to run around 35 km and had

to climb more than 5000m up and down during the 4 1/2 hour search.

He found all the missing people and only missed 2 rucksacks over an area of

over 400000 square meters and all this at the age of less than 2.5 years.

We are very proud of him and also of Annatina."

Dart is from Tut's first litter and brother to Sue's dog Enzi

He has been trained in Switzerland as a mountain rescue dog 




June 2015

 Enzi and Kat in their new winter dog coats.  These coats are superb quality made to order for any size dog.  They are priced very competitively and if you are interested in one for your dog

contact Hilary Hardman email






 7th June 2015




Loomcroft Enzi of Grayspeed








26th March 2015

Congratulations to Jenny Webber and 17th month old Millie who came to Grayspeed to be assessed

for the Gundog Club Grade 2 test.

They passed with distinction



 March 2015


When you consider buying a Labrador puppy and you are perhaps new to gundogs, you might well think that if you buy a pup with two Field Trial Champion parents, you will have very good bloodlines and every chance of success.


However - while that might well be the case, on the other hand some Field Trial Champions are very hard going and are trained and handled by very experienced people with the one aim of making the dog into a champion.  I have one such dog myself and he is now nearly 4 years old, and overall I have had an exasperating time training him, with many problems to overcome as against most dogs I have trained that have come right from 18 months to two and a half years old.  I have heard of experienced trainers that have given up on such dogs, and also have people come to me that become completely demoralised and disillusioned because these hard going dogs are such a handful and beyond the average trainer's capabilities of handling.


The moral of the story is to find out more about the sire and the dam, particularly as regards temperament and trainability, and not be purely influenced by blood lines and red on the pedigree.   Try to buy a pup that will suit your temperament and experience of training gundogs.







February 2015


Over the years people have said to me that to win Field Trials you need luck, and I always replied that I do not think that is correct, but I have never been able to put into words what I really meant, and I quote Louie Robertson which to me sums up luck precisely:


'You will hear many people say that to be successful in Field Trials you have to have the luck, but isn't luck the place where thorough preparation and precision timing meet perfect opportunity?'


So there you are, if you do not train and prepare your dog properly you will probably not have the luck to win, or you might with a tremendous amount of luck, but for sure you will never do it again!!







February 2015

2014- 2015 was a good year for our competition dogs pictured above

Happy 2015 -2016 to you all!




January 2015


 "ELVIS" the 9 month 9 stone St. Bernard owned by Sharon who hopes to train him

to do some gundog work and she has told me that when he is older he will come for lessons

with a keg of brandy around his neck.  Yes - just my sort of dog!!









22nd December 2014



Birtsmorton Danny Boy of Grayspeed



Sue told me a year ago that if I won a Field Trial with her dog Danny

she would buy me a magnum of champagne. 

I arrived home after the trial and as you can see she had kept to her word.

Cheers everybody!







20th and 21st October 2014


Grayspeed Kapuki

Gucci pictured with the Ch.Noranby Campfire Perpetual Challenge Cup

To the best dog/bitch bred by owner  and The Panshanger Cup

To the best dog/bitch bred, trained and handled by their owner. Gucci came 3rd and although not first

if you read the article below you will understand why I am particularly proud of this achievement with my 'little blonde'. 




August 2014

All dogs are special but just occasionally one is very special and that is how it is with my “blonde” Gucci the Golden Retriever. She won her Novice Field Trial in November 2011.


The next shooting season I took her for a training day at Evesham in September and her whole life was about to alter. She was sent for a bird that a Labrador Field Trial Champion had failed to find. After attacking thick cover she came out with the partridge, but on the way back she was coughing and frothing at the mouth and this continued on our journey home, me thinking she had a feather irritating her throat.


Things were still the same the next morning and off to the vet who put her on antibiotics as by now we had fears she had inhaled a grass seed. There was no improvement so she had various tests and an xray which showed there was a sign that a foreign body had punctured her lung. She was put on more antibiotics long term and when she returned for a check up her lungs were clear and the puncture had healed itself and we assumed the suspected grass seed had moved on and been ejected from her body In December of that year Gucci achieved her first Open FT award a third.


The next year thinking she was still in good health she achieved two more awards in a 2 day Open stake and in an early one day stake.


Had I but known, she could have dropped dead at any time, because in late October she became very ill again and went downhill very rapidly to the point where she was at death's door. In a last ditch attempt to save her, she was referred to Cave Veterinary Specialists where she had a scan and more tests which showed that she had a foreign body lodged near her diaphragm.


She had a six hour operation to remove what proved to be a 4 ½ cm piece of thorny stick which had travelled through her lungs into her pericardium and on into her diaphragm and pierced her abdomen, and infected her whole chest area. She had two lobes of one lung and part of her pericardium removed and pints of infected fluid drained from her lungs.


She hovered between life and death for five days and spent ten days in intensive care. After that she started to make a truly remarkable recovery, and returned home after three weeks sporting a most peculiar haircut!


That feisty little blonde came through and as we enter a new trialling season, she is 100% fit and very much back on form and enjoying her life again. We go into a new trialling season full of hope.




13th September 2014



Grayspeed Gosh

 Also winner of the Newton-Deakin Trophy

for the best dog/bitch bred by the owner in the awards





31st August 2014


Birtsmorton Danny Boy of Grayspeed









13TH JULY 2014


Loomcroft Enzi of Grayspeed

Owner/Handler Sue Gray

 Sire FTCH Grayspeed Tutbury

Dam Luisenga Inca



24th June 2014



She did not like water hence my last resort method!

It worked and she is swimming to me with the dummy.

Her will to retrieve at 12 months is awesome.




22nd June 2014


Birtsmorton Danny Boy of Grayspeed





June 12th 2014

A delightful puppy from Tut's (FTCH. Grayspeed Tutbury)

latest litter aged 5 weeks.

We think it's a boy!





April 2014


By invitation Tut and I went to Drakeshead Kennels and the amazing countryside surrounding them.  We did not make the cut, along with others, but enjoyed watching some of the handlers and dogs that would go on to formulate the team, and we wish them the very best.


I look forward to the Windsor team event now, and also defending our team wins last year, both at Sherborne and Werrington.




                                         "MY CHAMPION TUT WON THE OPEN"                                 

    April 2014 


Oh no he didn't!!  At a local Working Test recently I had been presented with the trophy and red rosette, but had it taken away as someone noticed the scores had been added up incorrectly, and the rightful winner had pipped me by a point.  I had the pleasure of presenting the trophy to the winner, and the only difference it made to me was that my wife Sue and I enjoyed a good bottle of red wine that evening instead of champagne!  However that situation was definitely a "first" for me!!!

At least it did not happen on April First - now that really would have been a laugh, or would it I ask myself?  





March 2014


Better known as "Puss Puss"

At 10 months old she finds training exhausting and needs to relax!!

And no she should not be on the sofa.





January 2014


Further to the article below, I have received emails and had telephone conversations with puppy owners in respect of toys and feel it best to expand on the subject. Pups want to play and hence with toys they do exactly that whether it be with an old knotted sock or one of the many puppy toys available. Certainly not a puppy dummy in my mind as this will be the start of proper retrieving and not an item to be played with. By playing, pups are exercising to a degree which develops stamina and muscle and to a limit determined by the pup, i.e. far better than over exercising a pup on a walk far too long for its age and bone and joint development. Toys are also a good way of distracting a pup from chewing things you do not want them to, such as your furniture, if the pup is indoors.


With a pup that is keen to retrieve and carry I do not believe in throwing the toy and letting it chase after it, as the lesson is obvious – you are teaching the pup to chase. If by chance the pup brings a toy to me of its own accord, I do not immediately grab the toy, but stroke the pup's head and chest and then gently take the item with the command 'dead', and most importantly give the toy back to the pup to play with. Perhaps once or twice a week I will give a pup a controlled toy retrieve, i.e. sit on the floor, legs apart and pup between, and one arm around it. Throw the toy a short distance preferably in a corridor that channels the puppy to the retrieve and back to me. When the pup stops struggling and the tension goes out of its body, point at the retrieve and let the puppy go with a command i.e. 'back', as it gets within 2 feet of the retrieve 'hi lost' as even though the pup can see the retrieve, you are teaching for a later date 'hi lost' means start hunting as there is something to find.


As soon as the pup picks encourage it back to you and still sitting down encourage it up to your chest and then gently take the retrieve with the command 'dead'. Give the toy back and let the pup play with it. Do not throw the toy!! Toys at a later date can be attached to a puppy dummy initially if the pup is not keen to retrieve these, also toys can be used to remedy faults such as delivering. I do not believe in giving pups balls to play with as again this can become a chasing game for them. Toys, if used correctly, are very important for a puppy in my mind, but you have to form your own conclusions. 




January 2014


Someone phoned me recently for training advice and told me that they had been advised not to let 8 week old pups onwards play with or retrieve toys. If you think the same way or are that person please email me and enlighten me, because in my mind it beggars belief that one would not want to encourage a pup to play and be happy and retrieve and carry from a very young age. Sadly it is depriving a retriever puppy from an inborn natural instinct.


The person that phoned is now having a problem with a six month puppy that is not very interested in retrieving and when it does will not return with the retrieve, hardly surprising when it has been brainwashed not to retrieve or carry or alternatively is now thinking “Whoopee” I now have a toy and you are not having it back!!


I am sure most of you out there would agree that pups should be allowed to enjoy a carefree puppyhood and as with humans life becomes serious far too quickly anyway. Yes I have still got my Teddy Bear called Mr. Snuggle Puffer!!






 January 2014


The above is a Golden Retriever bitch who is known as Kat and is 8 months old and a new pup to me for 2014, incidentally Happy New Year all.

I find it quite daunting, but fun when I sit and mull over my lists of what I will teach that young pup over the next two years, disciplines and situations that I take for granted with my trained older dogs. Good for the brain training a young pup and having to remember what one actually does with a puppy, and adapting to its character, but slowly slowly getting the pup to adapt to my character and methods of training. Yes, it certainly will be an exciting 2014 & 2015.



 December 2013



in action





November 2013


Driven retriever trials are certainly in general not a spectator sport – unfortunately. We are very fortunate in the south west as our local clubs and Field Trial Secretaries go to a great amount of work to ask local shoots to host trials and they do not use commercial trialling venues hundreds of miles away that would be prohibitive to some people; consequently when people I train tell me they want to trial, I suggest to them they go and watch a novice or open trial, and where I live it is all driven. I suggest if they ask to help, either by carrying game or marking down, I know they will be more involved and have a far clearer idea of proceedings being nearer to the judges and dogs running. The main comment and feedback if they do not get the chance to help and remain with the Chief Steward or gallery is that it is worse than watching paint dry, and this is not because the judges have not moved the trial on quickly, it is simply because the gallery is not informed of the judge's instructions to the handler as to the area to which the dog is being sent, or if there is a particular bird to be picked. Obviously walk up trials are easier for the gallery and guns to enjoy, because it is usually obvious as retrieves are, in general, immediate.


I really enjoy watching good dog work, but have to admit that at driven trials in which I run or shoot for I am often left completely bemused, as it all becomes a guessing game watching the dogs from a distance. Perhaps one day more consideration will be given to the guns and gallery as to what is actually required of the dog being sent, thus encouraging more enthusiasm for the sport and a better understanding for the people that are not running, but that support us and without whom our sport would not survive. Certainly when Guns' Choice comes into the equation, it probably would not go to the blonde with the nice bottom as so often happens, but to a dog worthy of the award and a handler very proud to receive it!!


There are shoots that will not entertain a field trial or who have had one and do not want another, hence perhaps it is time to take a broader outlook on a sport that can become quite selfish in some respects; and the answer in my mind is communication and involvement of others who are not actually running in the trial. They are also there for a good day out and to learn and understand the sport they are supporting, a sport that through breeding will eventually provide good peg and working dogs of the future to the shooting world in general.


In theory my ideas may be good, but in practice perhaps not so easy to carry out, but where there's a will we could find a way forward, things in life do not necessarily have to stand still and perhaps more thought should be incorporated into the sport?






September 2013


Wind left to right from point of casting the dog, the mark went out some 70 to 80 yards on a bank in line with the visible dummy thrower in grass just high enough to hide the dummy. The field was large and hence if the dog went the wrong side of the wind and overshot the dummy, there was the possibility of it running on a very long way and sure enough some went on 20, 30, 40, 60 yards!! Once the dog had gone by the dummy, there was no chance it would turn and scent due to the cross wind, and hence I stood and judged the test in amazement whilst dog after dog overshot and was not stopped and pipped onto the dummy or allowed to hunt. After a time, and bearing in mind 36 dogs ran and only six dogs gained maximum marks on a relatively simple mark, I started to ask the novice competitors why they had let the dogs run on and on. In general the reply was that if they blew the whistle they would lose points, and if they said 'hi lost' or blew the hunt whistle they would lose more points! I explained that they lost a lot more points by disturbing ground further out from the mark and then having to handle back onto the dummy.

The other aspect of it all was that handlers were recalling rather than pipping their dogs back – in other words they were teaching the dog that recall meant 'come back a certain distance, and then you are going to get stopped and cast on'. Some of these people will wonder in a Field Trial why they are put out, because when they are told to call the dog up it does not respond properly to the recall. Hardly surprising if that's how they train their dogs.


So, with this marked retrieve, the conclusion I came to with the majority of handlers was that the test certainly was not considered relevant to the shooting field and getting the dummy to hand quickly, it was only about points – in my mind just how sad is that!!







25th August 2013


Novice Winner




June 22nd 2013









May 27th 2013


Tut was selected for the Wiltshire WGC four dog team who achieved first place against seven other teams

Dave England one of our team members was also top dog.






Jambo came out of his so-called 'retirement' to sire this stunning litter of pups

and not to be outdone son Gosh's first date produced another beautiful litter,

so Jambo became a father and grandfather in the space of 48 hours!


For more details and availibility see Puppy Page






May 2013


At the Cornwall FTS Open Test Grayspeed achieved:


2nd Grayspeed Kapuki    (Golden Bitch)

3rd FTCh Grayspeed Tutbury (Lab Dog)

 4th    Grayspeed Gosh      (Golden Dog) 


The above 'sandwich' is all made with 'home bred'


 Congratulations to the winner Mell Brooks who only dropped one point on six tests





May 2013


Yes, this subject has reared its ugly head yet again when I was judging a Working Test recently. An Open bitch urinated about ten yards out on its in run and I knocked it accordingly. Pups were later being sent on ground near to the Open Test, and sure enough one dog pup strayed and scent marked the bitch's wee, and now that person with the pup has a problem to resolve – very unfortunate. However fortunately the person is an experienced dog trainer and will overcome the problem against some less experienced people who would not, and perhaps not even realise the dog had done something wrong.


Further to that some people thought I was very hard knocking for urinating – so be it, but in my mind it is slack and unbusinesslike work, and the dog has not got its mind on working or getting dummies to hand as quickly as possible. Even more incredulous was a comment that although dogs would be docked marks in a Test or possibly dropped in a Field Trial for urinating, bitches were OK because when they had to go they had to go!! Perhaps someone out there who thinks likewise will send me some scientific proof of that, but until then I shall treat both sexes the same, as surely it is a matter of making sure your dog is empty before competing and particularly after a water test.


I believe you have to treat dogs like humans in this respect, and we definitely have to contain ourselves and concentrate on the job in hand otherwise the world would be a right mess, so to speak!


I am referring to Working Tests; Field Trials are a separate issue when dogs have to sit through long drives or are in line a long time in walk up Trials – desperation urination is another matter, but there is absolutely no excuse for not emptying your dog between tests, and – yes – if they do urinate then minus five points out of twenty! 





April 20th 2013 


For those of you out there who were interested in 'The Life of Tut' on the Training Page which I no longer update -


Tut was selected to run in a team at the Windsor Charity Test. 26 teams ran totalling 130 dogs and handlers.  Tut achieved equal first with 116 points out of 120.  However he was pipped at the post for top dog in the run off, and hence sincere congratulations to the winner and also to the winning team.


More to the point a lot of money was raised for a very worthwhile charity.






14th April 2013


FTCh Grayspeed Tutbury won the West Dartmoor WGC Open Working Test today.


Previous Grayspeed Gundogs to win the trophy were:


            2005    FTW Jambo Habari of Hele at Grayspeed (GR D)

         2006    Staplecross Brock at Grayspeed ( Lab D)          





April 2013


When friends come to train, I sometimes offer them a very difficult retrieve. My friends very often have better dogs than mine and struggle sometimes with retrieves that my dogs make look easy, as they have done it before, even perhaps a year before, but they remember being trained to do the retrieve, and they definitely remember the ground and obstacles with which they are confronted such as walls and fences to jump. Hence by no means would this be neutral ground if we were not training, and it was a competition, as my dogs would have a definite advantage


Throughout the land there are live game training days in the season – these venues sometimes host field trials. Do you think dogs that have been regularly trained on those grounds have an advantage, or do you think game is too randomly shot to affect this along with scent and weather conditions that can change daily. However, duck and partridge are very often shot in the same area, sometimes with distinctive features such as hedges, walls, rivers etc. that a dog may well remember from a training day, perhaps giving that dog an advantage, and yes perhaps a disadvantage to other dogs in line that have not been trained there. This article is food for thought, and open to debate.


Written by The Whistleblower




Tut at the IGL Retriever Championship 2012

See Stud Dog Page




March 2013



Photo by kind permission of Roger Wooldridge


Gucci training on the moors in South Wales recently





March 2013


Over the years numerous people have told me they have good eye contact with their dogs, and some even suggest that good eye contact tells you the dog is biddable.


I should have asked what all this means as I have never wanted eye contact with my dogs, the only time I want them to look at me is to take a direction, and that does not involve having close eye contact.


Put a few dogs together i.e. a pack, and how often do they have eye contact with each other, except when they are about to fight. Perhaps I have been missing out on something all these years – and perhaps not!! Other than reprimanding a dog, I think close eye contact invariably puts a dog under pressure when training it, or rather this is the conclusion I have come to when helping other people to train their dogs.






February 2013 


  We know the consequences if this is committed by a dog at a Field Trial. At a Working Test do you think this matter is dealt with far too leniently regarding docking marks, particularly when young dogs are being sent over the same ground where an offence has been committed? It very often teaches a dog to start scent marking and that can be a habit they continue with for the rest of their lives, particularly with some novice handlers that have no idea how to remedy this fault.


Unless mutually agreed beforehand it is at the individual judges discretion how many marks should be docked; the most I have seen docked is five points from twenty, and generally it is three marks – far too lenient. Not an eliminating fault, but a major fault (however there is no mention of this in the J Regs. - one just assumes slack and unbusinesslike work) however just as catching and in my mind more so than squeaking, and at novice working tests far more common with all dogs covering the same ground in general.


A frustrating subject to say the least, and your comments welcome, as it can be the ruination of a potentially good dog. The subject of why dogs urinate when they are meant to be working is open to further debate, but in general it is perhaps pressure by the trainer put on a young dog at an early age that starts it all off or perhaps overfacing a young dog at a test!





  January 2013


Top of the list of problems I see when helping people to train dogs is delivery. The dog spits the dummy out on return, or it drops its head and the handler rummages about to get the dummy making matters worse, or it goes round the back of the handler several times and then the dog runs about doing eight frantic circles of my training field, occasionally tossing the dummy in the air with puppy-like exuberance and in effect saying to its owner “it's mine it's mine – and you're not having it!!!” The handler stands open mouthed, eyes glaring and growling words of frustration! Put the boot on the other foot, and would you approach a dog growling, showing its teeth, eyes wide, hackles up and ready for a fight?


I stand and observe and think, 'if only the handler had come to me when the pup was 8 to 12 weeks old and had had a puppy lesson, because now we have a real problem to resolve and no magic cure to help.' The magic word of course is “HOLD”.


Very often the more fuss one makes when trying to remedy a delivery problem, the worse things become. Having said that, with a very soft natured handler who has not chased after the dog with a dummy in its mouth, or who has not consistently nagged the dog to deliver, just sometimes the handler, by being gruff once in tone of voice when the dog plays about, will overcome the problem – yes it has been known!! The dog suddenly grows up and shows respect.


Some handlers that come to me make the dog come in and then sit and present the dummy beautifully, head upwards and slowly take the dummy; they think I will be impressed, but they soon find out that I am far from impressed!!! All I want is the dummy/bird to hand as quickly as possible, and I think if a dog knows it is going to perform a delivery 'ritual' on return, it can be the start of a ploddy dog on its return run, and secondly sit and deliver is not necessary, but that is only my opinion.


There are many methods to get over a delivery problem, but the magic word “HOLD” is the one I use most.


From an eight week old pup, I sit on the floor, legs apart, pup between, with an arm round the pup whilst I throw a toy for it. When the pup stops struggling to go and retrieve, I let it retrieve and when it comes back I encourage it to bring the toy up to my chest and face saying 'hold, hold, hold' whilst I stroke its head and body and then gently take the toy with the command dead. Then I gently give the toy back to the pup and again 'hold, hold, hold', then let the pup run off and play with the toy. One would not give a child a new toy and immediately after two minutes of playing with it take it away!


Yes – you can have a perfect delivery at 8 weeks, or twelve months, but 'HOLD' is my insurance against a delivery problem that may arise at 14 months or even 20 months,

24 months etc. etc. and on introduction to game.


Hence the pup has learnt the word hold and if I get a delivery problem during the dog's training at a later date, I am part way towards a remedy. That remedy is to turn my back on the dog when it is still about 15 yards away on its in run, pat my thigh whilst walking briskly away, and get the dog to heel. Make no attempt to take the dummy, just say hold, keep walking briskly and do not eyeball the dog and put it under pressure, eventually put a hand down and take the dummy gently with the command dead, all still at heel and walking briskly. Give the dummy back, still no eye contact and repeat the exercise. Over a period of days start turning into the dog as you take the retrieve and shortening the distance you walk off at heel, and slowing your pace down until eventually you stand still as the dog comes in on its in run, turn your back, turn towards the dog at the last second and take the retrieve with no eye contact, and we are then nearly mission accomplished! Plus of course, praise the dog. I hope this works for you, but one should think ahead when the pup is eight weeks old, but it can work for mature dogs, but beware, if you teach an older dog 'hold' it must accept the dummy willingly. If you force a dummy in a dog's mouth against its will, you can create even more problems.


Build up to this method over a week or more – or less - depending on the dog's learning ability and it's willingness to want to please you – and not itself!!


Good luck.


Written by The Whistle Blower






November 5th 2012  


It was certainly all fireworks today, as Grayspeed Tutbury.... Tut

won the Cornwall FTS Open Trial at Trewithin Estate and is now:

FTCh Grayspeed Tutbury

Yes - he is a Champion!

(See Training Page "Training Tut"- scroll down to end of page)




Grayspeed Tutbury  

wins Arun & Downland GS 2 day Open AV Field Trial 29th/30th October 2012

and is going to the IGL Retriever Championship.

See Training Page "Training Tut"







September 2012


Jambo is now 11 1/2 years old and retired.  He has achieved over 50 awards ranging from

a Field Trial win to being in the winning team for the Three Breeds test.

He has had numerous Open Test wins and an award at Crufts. 

He features on many pedigrees having sired over 150 puppies.  I have Gucci and Gosh sired by him.

Quite deaf now, he has done me and himself proud.  He deserves a well earned, happy rest.


N.B. Jambo comments:   "If he thinks I'm going to retire that easily he's mistaken as I went picking-up yesterday

and picked 22 partridges!  I intend to continue to go picking-up long into my so-called 'retirement' as he puts it!!!"






26th August 2012


 1st Grayspeed Gosh beat 38 Novice dogs to win

 1st Grayspeed Tutbury beat 24 Open dogs to win





Age 2 years

August 2012


Gosh started his career in the Goldie and Gundog world by coming second in the NDWGC Novice Test on 15th July 2012

(33 dogs ran). Gosh achieved equal points to the winner but gained 2nd place in the run-off on a very long marked retrieve. Gosh is a fast stylish and exciting dog with tremendous hunting ability, and I cannot wait to trial him when he is ready for it.

  He will feature on our Stud page soon under his father "Jambo".


He really is a chip of the old block!





   August 2012


North Devon Working Gundog Club Team

Nick Jordan  Robin Gray  Ian Ford


  Cornwall FTS Open Team Challenge

Werrington Park

    8 x 3 dog teams ran

        Nick Jordan also achieved "Top Dog"    





July 2012


My wife Sue's face says it all!

Her dog Danny (Birtsmorton Danny Boy of Grayspeed)

gets his first award at West of England LRC Puppy Test

Congratulations to you both






July 2012 






July 2012


Yes perhaps I should!  NO or LEAVE IT as I turn a dog from a mark to a blind.  The words restraint, help, inform, command and verbally handle all come to mind, but not for long.


"NO" in some peoples' mind is a chastisement word, but then "bananas" could be if one trained the dog to recognise that as a chastisement word, and would that be permitted and scored accordingly, simply because a judge did not recognise the word as chastisement in their mind!! 


There is no rule that tells you that you cannot speak to your dog in competition.  However repeated commands such as STAY, STAY, STAY, or HEEL, HEEL, HEEL become restraint commands and one HEEL or STAY could be and is usually acceptable.  After all if a handler has to use repeated commands, it proves the dog was not trained properly initially to one command.


If one listened to a foreigner with their dog and one did not speak their language, the only indicator of restraint would be tone of voice and repeated words, and some judges may well have a problem with that!!


Perhaps in the perfect world with the perfect dog, no verbal commands would be required, even casting the dog with a flick of the finger or one knee forward etc.   Hence verbal commands are probably to comfort the handler more than help the dog on some occasions, but so be it if done quietly.


Along with others I enjoy talking to my dogs quietly when I shoot over them, or pick up - they are not just tools to me - and as gundog work is all about the shooting field, let common sense prevail;  however more and more it does not prevail, and our sport seems on occasion to be departing from common sense and the shooting field, and over the last five years fast becoming about long distance straight line retrieves, precision, petty and finicky, the latter two particularly at working tests sometimes.


Steadiness and the ability for consistent good hunting and nose along with getting game or dummies to hand as quickly as possible should be the priority, and if it helps those end objectives, then - quietly please - "NO" or "LEAVE IT" or until a regulation comes out to the contrary.


Written by the Whistle Blower

who has "GONE AWAY" on his summer hols.





June 2012


1. A dog fails one part of a two part test. Would you give it a score for achieving one part   which it did really well?


2. The handler whistles the dog back as soon as it has picked a dummy; would you subtract marks?


3. On a mark retrieve but blind wanted, would you dock the handler for saying 'leave it' as they turned the dog to retrieve the blind?


4. In similar circumstances as 3 would you minus more marks if the handler said 'no' to the dog?


5. Would you dock 10, 5, 3 points for the dog that has a wee on the way back from a retrieve?


6. As above but the dog has a wee on the way out to a retrieve.


7. The dog has a dump on the way out or back from a retrieve – would you knock it 10, 5, 3 marks or not knock it at all?


8. The dog comes out of water and drops the dummy near to the water and lifts its head high;  how many marks out of 20 would you give it, assuming it did the retrieve well other than this and went on to deliver the dummy to hand?


9. The dog comes out of water drops the dummy but keeps its nose just above the dummy and then delivers – how many marks?


10. The handler comes up to you as judge, takes the lead off the dog and throws the lead on the ground or some distance away – what would be your reaction if any?


11. The handler gives you the dummy and there are deep teeth marks on it, would you knock points or zero it even though the dummy may have been used before?


12. You think the dog went before it was meant to go, and the handler does not cast their dog in the same way as you do – would you give it a zero?


13. The handler keeps shouting 'back' to the dog even though it is going back – how many points would you minus?


14. The dog stops in its tracks to honour a distraction on the way back from a retrieve, would you minus it even though the dog only stopped 5 seconds before continuing to come back?


15. As above but the dog stops for 20 seconds.


16. If the handler talked to their dog when it was off the lead under the judge would you minus points or warn first or just ignore?

17. A dog is cast and goes a metre and pulls back to the handler and is cast again with success, how many points would you deduct or would you zero it - or just ignore?


18. A dog yawns and by doing so makes a squeak, how many marks would you dock, doyou give it a zero or just ignore?


19. If a dog goes over water for a retrieve and then comes back a quicker way round the water, even though it is disturbing ground, would you dock points?


20. Would you make allowance with your marks for an air scenting dog as against ground scenting for a very long outrun in windy conditions?


21. Would you be more lenient with your marks if you were judging a Novice test as against an Open?


22. Would you immediately knock 10, 5, 2 points from the dog that did not put its nose on a marked retrieve assuming it was within 2 meters of the dummy and went on to pick cleanly and quickly?


23. Wind and weather change by the time you judge the 18th dog. Would you amend your scoring to accommodate the changes, plus there is now a track in long grass to a blind and more dummy fall scent?


24. Where do you think you could find the answers to these questions?



Note: Mark yourself out of 20 where required!   No half points please!









April 8th 2012


 North Devon WGC Open Working Test


1st  FTW Grayspeed Tutbury (Tut)

    2nd FTW Grayspeed Kapuki (Gucci)






January 2012


Small Fry Gundog was invited by old Wise Fox, Mrs. Vixen and the Cubs for a tasty chicken dinner.


After dinner the cubs played merrily with some rank sheep bones whilst Wise Fox and      Small Fry Gundog drank vintage quail brandy and smoked local cabbage leaf cigars in front of a blazing chicken carcass fire.


Small Fry Gundog said to Wise Fox 'I sense you are extremely quiet tonight and not your usual foxy self.' At that point Mrs. Vixen entered the parlour carrying a tray of steaming venison coffees along with partridge juice liqueurs.


'Yes dear' she said, 'I have smelt something different about you this evening', and shook her brush in agitation.


Now prompted, Wise Fox explained that he had read a magazine article that cold January morning, and after that he had gone out hunting for the chicken dinner with rather a lot on his mind.


'Whilst padding to a nearby farm with numerous free range chickens, I felt something twitch my ear tips' explained Wise Fox. 'My father taught me years ago that when you feel a twitch of your ears, although you cannot see it, it could be a snare.'


By this time the cubs were alert and listening to Wise Fox, and one very bright cub called Smelly asked 'What is a snare Daddy Wise Fox?'


Before Wise Fox could answer, Stinky, Smelly's brother, asked if humans were involved with these snares. Yes – Stinky was also a very bright cub!


'A snare, Smelly cub, is something that unless you recognise it and back out of it very slowly, will tighten more and more and will eventually kill you and the majority of free foxes.'


Old Wise Fox went on to tell Smelly and Stinky that his grandparents and great grandparents had fought fang and paw to dig out snares in the past so that young cubs like Smelly and Stinky could grow up and bark and padmark in the freedom of the woods and green fields of England, and that a great many foxy lives were lost achieving that end.


'Not many humans set snares now, particularly for city foxes' continued Wise Fox, 'only a very small minority try and dictate to us where we scent mark and how much we can bark in the mating season; I will teach you young cubs how to recognise that fatal noose before it slowly tightens its grip around your young necks'.


Small Fry Gundog, Wise Fox and Mrs. Vixen sipped silently on their venison coffee with very troubled minds as to what the future had in store regarding their freedom of bark and padmark if snaring became widespread again.


Deep down in the cosy earth, cubs Smelly and Stinky, oblivious to the seriousness of this threat, began to play again with their rank sheep bones.


Written by the Whistle Blower who hopes this story does not give you nightmares

and who has gone barking mad – or has he? Only time will tell!





First season Open Field Trial update and summary

See Training Page





November 5th 2011

Gucci wins Usk Valley Working Gundog Club Novice Field Trial

AV 16 dog stake




FTW Grayspeed Kapuki (Gucci)

Age 2 years 9 months


Sire FTW Jambo Habari of Hele at Grayspeed

  Dam FTAW Merryway Jocasta of Grayspeed  

Owner/Handler Robin Gray 


2nd:  Gypsy Rosalee

Owner/Handler  Mr. A James 





November 2011


"Honky" my old Labrador and I were invited to a Fun Field Trial at Twinney Park Shoot  - writes The Whistle Blower.  Honky was allowed to sit with me while I shot at the peg, with the other dogs in line behind.   I shot a hen bird which torpedoed deep into some thick long grass.   Three dogs including Honky were sent for this bird at the end of the drive.  All dogs failed and Gordon the judge walked out but could not find the bird.   I walked out and picked the bird with difficulty, as only the end of its tail feathers were showing from under the long tufty grass, and in effect I had not only shot the bird, but I had eyewiped my own dog, put two other dogs out, and eyewiped the judge in the process - yes, it was certainly a Fun Field Trial with, as you can imagine, a lot of laughs and jest.


 Sue, my wife, with Taki (Grayspeed Noritake) went on to win the Fun Trial,

and received the "prestigious" trophy pictured above!





October 2011

Tut has achieved an award in both of his first Open Field Trials in less than a week

The trials were both 2 day AV Open 24 dog stakes.

See Training page "The life of Tut"


Yes you bet we are proud!






October 2011 

Tut achieves a place in his first Open Field Trial

an AV Retriever 24 dog 2 day stake

See end of Training Page

"The Life of Tut"





October 2011


IF” he had not changed birds,

       I would most certainly have been on for a third


IF” the other dog had not run in, my dog would not have followed

      and I would still have been in to win


IF” my dog had seen my hand signals against the sun

       there would be no two ways about it, he would have won


IF” by chance the dummy had been in another space

       my dog would have definitely retrieved it and got first place


IF” If the dummy thrower had not spooked my dog

       trying to retrieve a dummy behind the log I would certainly have been top dog


IF” that bird had not landed near him in the trial

       he would have won without denial


IF” my dog had stopped on the whistle and not carried on into the next county

       I would have gone home with a first trophy bounty


IF” the judge had given me the correct mark, an A+ or a twenty

       my dog would have won by a good margin and plenty


IF” if if is a word you hear handlers say an awful lot

      but today no if as I won and deserved what I got


IF” is then the word to be forgotten

       it is only used when the trial or test for our dog goes rotten


IF” to sum up the other dogs were not better than mine

       then the truth is of course I would win all the time........................IF



Written by the Whistle Blower in Poetic Mood

and having consumed a few 'sherbets'





September 2011



Scroll down to 'TRAINING TUT'





Weird Retrieves

  July 2011



Over the last month my wife Sue and her black Labrador bitch Taki (Grayspeed Noritake) have had some weird retrieves.  The first occasion was at a lake with an island in the middle.   Taki was sent for a dummy (there were several on the island) and back she came with a child's Wellington boot - heaven knows what it was doing on the island!


The second retrieve was even more weird.  Taki was sent for an unseen dummy through a gateway.  She roared out and 30 yards away she jammed her brakes on and snuffled about in the grass and returned with - a large dead dried out frog (see picture above)!!


The ultimate weird retrieve was last weekend and Taki was meant to retrieve a dummy in rushes on the side of a lake.  She came back with a very much alive grass snake with a small fish in its mouth!!!


All these retrieves were delivered perfectly to hand!


Email us with your unusual retrieves please






Rodney’s Very Long Blind in My Dreams”


BLADE (so named because I like to think one day he will be the cutting edge of black Labradors) and I approached Judge Brian with fear and trepidation as so many dogs had failed this test before us.


Judge Brian stood waiting with a telescope mounted on a tripod. Robin, I will explain the test, he assured me. Look through the ‘scope and you will see a 100 foot high monument half a mile away - now look at the top of the monument and you will see the dummy thrower; all I can tell you is that the blind is somewhere behind the monument!


I cast Blade - equipped with a water and biscuits ration. Judge Brian said there was no point in waiting so we wandered half a mile back to the meeting point and cars. There I had several cups of tea and 20 cigarettes, whilst Judge Brian had his lunch and a snooze. Later we began to amble back to the test. On the way back we looked far down over the stunning Somerset levels and Judge Brian showed excitement - he said ‘I do believe your dog is in the area, you had better start handling!’


Some five miles away, I could see no sign of Blade, but sheep and cattle were on the move and I knew instinctively this was the area! I gave a strong right, and the dots of white sheep went right. I gave a frilly flowered white hanky back and the sheep went back. “GOSH!” I thought, my handling has improved, particularly when I blew the stop whistle and a herd of cattle ceased stampeding.


After two hours of handling - but still no sign of Blade - Judge Brian was duly impressed and he was convinced Blade was on his way back mainly because the dummy thrower on top of the monument was giving signals to him by semaphore.


Sure enough an hour or so later Blade brought the dummy to hand and Judge Brian said it was a well earned 20 out of 20, and the best he had seen the test done over the last few weeks of judging it. Blade went on to win the Open much to my delight, and I went to bed completely exhausted that night and in “my dreams” I now know my faithful Blade “really is the cutting edge of black Labradors.”




Mainly ficticious but also a small semblence of reality 







April 2011

My last but one Field Trial last season was up in Wiltshire, and Gucci , my blonde Golden Retriever and I set off on our travels in trepidation. We stayed the night before the trial at a dog-friendly Inn just a few miles from the trial ground.


After a hearty meal and – yes a whole bottle of good wine and a brandy or two - I retired to bed having let Gucci The Blonde have a good run and she was now settled contentedly at the side of my bed on her Vet Bed with a bowl of water.


I slept soundly in the big double bed until about 3 am when I gradually woke up with memories of dreams about disasters which might befall Gucci and me at the forthcoming trial. As I fell back to sleep, I was aware my wife had snuggled up to me, so I put out my arm to cuddle her and discovered that she had become, overnight, exceedingly hairy! I suddenly realised I was not at home in my own bed and Gucci The Blonde had her head on the pillow next to me snoring contentedly just like The Wife!!


Softie that I am, I let her stay on the bed and when I got home that evening I admitted to my wife that while I was away I had slept with a young blonde.


 A True Story From





April 3rd 2011


Tut and I fail

See Training Page 'The Life of Tut'



FTAW Grayspeed Kapuki (Gucci)
South Western Golden Retriever Club
Novice 12 dog stake
The Shaftesbury Estate Wiltshire
January 24th 2011
Gucci was awarded 2nd place and the "of Yeo" trophy
Age 1 year 11 months
Sire:  FTW Jambo Habari of Hele at Grayspeed
Dam:  FTAW Merryway Jocasta of Grayspeed
Handler: Robin Gray
Grayspeed Tutbury wins WELRC FieldTrial
November 4th 2010
See Training Page 'The Life of Tut'
FTW Grayspeed Tutbury
Sire: Grilstone Gingko of Grayspeed
Dam: Dorset Dandy of Grayspeed
Handler: Robin Gray

 July 2010


 Phil Parkins and Anna, his partner, came to stay with us for a while. I have known Phil for over 40 years and he was my best man when I married Sue.   Phil has made up 3 Labradors to Field Trial Champions, and has had numerous Field Trial wins, both Novice and Open. His 3 Champions are:


 FTCh. Millbuies Milly

     FTCh. Fernshot Comet

                                  FTCh. Twixwood Shooting Star of Fernshot

Phil is an A panel judge and has judged all over Europe. He judged the IGL Retriever Championship in 2007. Phil has many achievements with gundogs to his credit and far too many to list!!


 Sue, Anna and I had a training session with Phil who ran 'Parky' i.e.  FTCh Twixwood Shooting Star of Fernshot - this was an enlightening experience in many aspects. Firstly learning from Phil and just by watching 'Parky' which in itself showed me how I should be training a dog to the ultimate standard. However first you have to have the right dog and as with Phil, you have to be very experienced and a top class trainer and handler – so as far as I am concerned there is still a very long way to go, and it was proof to me that the learning curve with dogs is very much ongoing.


 We are hoping to use 'Parky' for stud on one of our bitches and hence do keep an eye on our Puppy page early next year.


 I hope one day my friend Phil will win the IGL Retriever Championship; he has been close to this achievement, and I will be one of the first to buy Phil a bottle of champagne in celebration. He should end up with enough bottles of champagne to last his lifetime - he has many friends!!



Rabbit Pen Training now available 

(See Training page for more details)

North Devon Team June 2010
NDWGC 25th Anniversary Team Event
             Andrew Stevens  Kate Kellaway  Anita Jones  Robin Gray  (Captain)          




North Devon Working Gundog Club Novice Test
9th May 2010
Robin Gray with Grayspeed Kapuki (Gucci)
Gucci beat 34 other dogs to win her first Novice Test
(the youngest competitor at 15 months old)
      Sire   FTW Jambo Habari of Hele at Grayspeed
                          Dam  FTAW Merryway Jocasta of  Grayspeed                      
Golden Retriever Club Puppy Test
25th April 2010
Robin Gray with Grayspeed Kapuki (Gucci)





Cornwall Field Trial Society Novice Working Test
 9th August 2009


Malcolm Rundle with Grayspeed Arcturus (Oakley)
Robin has helped Malcolm train Oakley from a puppy

Photo by Maurice Stanbury


North Devon Working Gundog Club Novice Working Test

19th July 2009
Sue Gray with Dorset Dandy of Grayspeed (Ming)
Robin Gray with Grayspeed Tutbury (Tut)
Ming's youngest son, the youngest competitor
who came 3rd in his first Working Test at 12 months old
against 29 other dogs
Robin has even trained his wife Sue to beat him – sometimes!!!








February 2011

Is your dog whistle a friend or foe? The making of a good retriever or its ruination?

 Handlers very often say that when they have won a Gundog Working Test or a Field Trial and they get home and mull over the day with a celebration tipple, the one thing that often strikes home about the day is the amount of times the whistle has been blown and very often there has not been the need, other than perhaps the hunt whistle.

The very foundation of advanced retriever training is that the whistle should rarely be used, only in exceptional circumstances, for example, if an air scenting dog goes off line with a strong cross wind and one needs to stop the dog and cast it on again, or in a Field Trial or picking-up the recall is used when there is the opportunity to change birds and you need to be very certain the dog will not change. Obviously there are other occasions when the whistle is required, but in general if the dog goes where it is pointed, the need for the whistle should not often occur.


When training a young dog and you have blown the whistle more than once, it is usually once too many – after the first blast you should go out and show the dog what was required when you cast it; yes, it is a lot of foot slogging but gundog training is just that! The dog should have been taught what was wanted so that even the one stop was not needed, but of course there are times when we need to stretch a young dog and see what it has learnt, and if it goes wrong we go back to the learning curve and hence a blast on the whistle stops the dog falling into a deeper confusing pit and we go out and help the dog and rectify the situation, thus also stopping the dog becoming whistle reliant and hesitant. We also need to see if the young dog will handle and hence training situations have to be carefully thought out to achieve this without much whistle.

The end result if you blow the whistle a lot is a brainwashed ' robotic' dog that cannot do anything without your whistle help, and what is worse than a dog that you send into a wood for a retrieve and it keeps coming out for your reassurance because you have whistle blown the hunting instinct out of it rather than the dog getting on and hunting the area to which you have sent it.

 The beauty of a retriever is to see it hunt using its own initiative without whistle interference. A classic example on DVD is the IGL Retriever Championship 2009 when Phil Parkins dog  FTCh. Twixwood Shooting Star of Fernshot is shown taking a line on a very long strong runner without any interference from Phil, who obviously had complete trust in his dog - an awesome retrieve and an absolute joy to behold.

 If you blow the whistle a lot and put the dog's nose on the retrieve all of the time, you may just as well walk out and hunt for the retrieve and pick it yourself – it would probably in some cases be a far quicker and a more humane solution.

 Whistles can become like a dummy to a baby, one has to suck and blow them, it can be a very hard addictive habit to break!

 If you see me at a Gundog Working Test or Field Trial and I am blasting away consciously or more likely subconsciously on my whistle, kindly remind me of this article and it will pull me up sharp and I will realise I have not trained my dog properly, and there is a lot more work to do and a lot more foot slogging to get a true self confident hunting retriever.

 The crux of the matter is that we must let the dog use its brain and trust and train it to do so! Don't let us be whistle control freaks, we will never train a good dog and more to the point we will ruin a good hunting retriever.

 The whistle should only be an indicator of the stage you are at training your retriever. The whistle then becomes your friend not foe.







© Robin Gray 2016