Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rain during a field trial makes for a long day

Kistler Ranch on Saturday experienced rain all day long.  The rain was cold and bordered on snow at times during the day.

Around sixty hardy souls, their dogs and horses braved the weather to compete in this horseback field trial.
Glad to have the Aero Cruiser.  Some folk were dealing with the weather by sitting in their vans or pick up trucks.  It never stopped raining all of Saturday.

Mark Miller after running his pup

I ran Bailey off of a borrowed horse in an Limited Amateur Gun Dog contest Saturday.  It did not go well and we were done in 10 minutes and walked back to camp.  My spirit was as damp as the weather.

Sunday, we awoke to a bright sunny day. Everything was wet but the sun felt great.

 Like the weather, every one's moods improved and what had started out as a crappy weekend ended up enjoyable.  Bailey, in his Sunday contest (Amateur Gun Dog), had two nice bird finds and worked them well.  We got "around clean."  That was my goal for the day.
I left Kistler Ranch knowing that it may have been my last horseback field trial with Bailey.  Bailey will compete in walking field trials from here on out.  
It has taken me awhile to come to peace with the understanding that Bailey and I can compete only up to a certain level.  There are dozens of "levels" that exist, just like in most sports.

Bailey sitting in Aero Cruiser at Hungry Valley field trial June 2, 2009 at one year old. He ran in walking puppy and derby stakes.

Bailey in the same seat 17 months later at Kistler Ranch.  He ran in two gun dog horseback stakes.
   Walking field trials is that level for us, and horseback field trials are not. 

In two weeks we are off to east of San Diego to run at the South Coast Vizsla Club walking field trial.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bailey goes into field trial "rehab"

What Bailey should have looked like on pheasant hunt
Bailey has just spent 10 days in "field trial" rehab with our professional trainer:
Randy Berry.

 When a rookie, like me, goes out and has a grand old time in South Dakota with his dog but forgets to "handle the dog" during the excitement of the hunt, then when you come back to the "real world" - rehab will be in order. 
Bailey went with Randy down to California City and they worked off horseback for a couple days and did some other bird work. 

Over the last four days, I have gone out and worked with Bailey and Randy at Hastings Island.  We have been honing back the skills we will need to compete in next weekend's German Wirehair Pointer field trial out at Kistler Ranch (near Jamestown, California.)

We have Bailey "tuned back up." 

He is still only "green broke" and subject to the mistakes that a young
 28-month-old dog with a rookie handler will make.
taken from horseback at Kistler Ranch
 Will he win in the two gun dog stakes we are entered in? 

On the one hand, the chances of winning are very long.
After a good run at Kistler Ranch last spring
On the other hand,  Bailey should be competitive.
  This is what makes the sport enjoyable - win or lose.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How to field trial in style in an Aero Cruiser

I never really knows who reads this blog.  For 18 months I have posted many hundreds of pictures.  Most of them have pictures of Bailey or Chloe and some have other dogs.  I even add a few people from time to time.

 Our trusty "Buddy" has been with us from the very first post.  Our 1989 Aero Cruiser 23 foot rear bath has logged 8,500 miles from Portland to Nevada and much of Northern California over the last three years.  For my wife and I and our two Vizslas, it has been the perfect fit.

 But life changes and since we got "Buddy" three new grandchildren have either entered our lives or will soon arrive.  Most people, long in the RV world have told me, "You will want a bigger rig."   I didn't think so.  Our Aero Cruiser is perfect.   12 to 15 miles to the gallon and handles more like a pick up than an RV.  Climbs the Sierras to Reno trials just fine, and is comfortable to drive and live in while "out in the middle of no where."
 Now it is time to say goodbye to our 23 foot Aero Cruiser (less than 47,000 miles on it ) for our new additions.  1997 Lazy Daze 26.5 motor home (with 98,000 miles.)  Goodbye to 12 to 15 mpg.  With the Lazy Daze Ford V10, 8 mpg will be the norm.

  But instead of sleeping 3, it will sleep 5 and has the power to tow a horse trailer over the mountains. (Yes, I am thinking a horse is in my future.)
  The Aero Cruiser's 360 V8 just wouldn't be able to do that.
    The rig was made here in Northern California (Vallejo) just from 1988 to 1992 by the same company that made the Sunraider on a Toyota truck chassis.  These were the best of the best.  All real wood inside and quality everything.  Made with pride. 
Over the period we had it, I improved many of the original components for better performance or reliability.
 We had great adventures in this rig over the last three years.  It still has many adventures left in it.
You can e-mail me at: rodneymichaelson

More about our RV adventures in Buddy on the following blog post:

Aero Cruiser group page:

 Something I had written in 2008 for the Aero Cruiser web site after having my Aero Cruiser for a year:

What is a Work of Art worth?
Rodney Michaelson
I am now one year into owning our Aero Cruiser. Some of you might notice my enthusiasm on owning this 23 footer rear bath motorhome.
First of all I am a want-to-be: engineer and mechanic and a full-time car nerd.
In a motor home I wanted:

  1. Something small enough to fit behind my house (Max 26')
  2. One with a couch and separate bedroom.
  3. A rig that got better than 10mpg.
  4. Powerful enough tow my classic 1982 Malibu day cruiser boat.
  5. Under $12,000 so I could pay cash and not have to finance a toy.

The Aero Cruiser was one of the few machines that could fit all our desires.

Bringing our little coach up to good working condition did not take much money or time. To bring it all the way to excellent condition took more time.

With the internet to find supplies and some shared mechanical knowledge and the help from the folks on the Aero Cruiser Club's web sites we now have an excellent traveling machine.

These Aero Cruisers are works of art and engineering. Only a few hundred had been made in a city close by (Vallejo, California). The same company made the Sunrader. This was a 21' motorhome mounted on a Toyota one-ton truck chassis. These were the BEST small RV's made, and a restored 1992 Sunrader just went for $24,000 on eBay in June of 2008.
We have spent many weekends in RV parks and dry camping over the last 12 months. Some trips we are in parks with other rigs of all sizes and shapes. Our little Aero Cruiser holds its own with any of the expensive toys the others own, or more than likely, are still paying on. It wins in both the design and comforts that my wife, dogs and I want and need. It drives better than a large one ton pick-up truck.

These Aero Cruisers are works of art and engineering but they are not for everyone. I once loved Audi cars back in the 80's and 90's before they became so popular and main stream. These were wonderful cars, but had some issues that would frustrate the average car owner. The cars, at the time, were works of art and engineering that I believed were ahead of their time.

A 20-year-old Aero Cruiser is not for everyone but the parts are simple and the original workmanship is exceptional. Something to hold on to for a long time. The Aero Cruiser is a fine work of art that you can live and travel in.
Happy trails.
Rod, Joanie and Chloe (our year-old Vizsla)

Editorial Note: One of the advantages of owning a previously cared for Aero Cruiser is that all of those original workmanship problems you find in most new motor homes have been fixed.
Tom Heald, Webmaster and another enthusiast owner of a 23 footer.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Consistency with Bailey

Consistency is where I have gone wrong lately in Bailey's training for his "field trial career."

At 28 months old, Bailey can not understand that freedom to run the prairies in search of birds and then chase them after the flush would not be acceptable a week later in a very structured field trial.  While I was trying to shoot the fast and allusive cock pheasant, Bailey was free to do what he wanted.  An unsupervised juvenile at the Disneyland for upland bird dogs.

If it so happened that we were at the same place at the same time, then maybe we would act as a hunting team.  He would hold point through the shot.  But he always broke after the shot to chase the bird.  He would pull off the chase quickly, if I yelled, but chase he did.

The "steady to wing and shot" training, that I had sent him to Randy Berry for three months to establish, was not enforced for six days with the wild birds of South Dakota.  We were having a good old time being guys with their dogs in the wide open prairie.

Upon coming back to California and then to the first field trial last weekend, it really should have been no surprise that Bailey did not do well.  He really didn't know what I wanted him to do.

Consistency in commands and expectations.  Each time a command is given by me, it must be obeyed by Bailey.  "Woop," means "do not move a muscle until released."
"Here, come here", means come right to me and do not hesitate or venture off in another direction.

For the next few weeks or months Bailey and I will work on the six to eight basic commands that are going to be given consistently without variation and with consistent reactions by Bailey.  This is how we will progress in hunting as a team and in field trials.
Training the hunting dog for the field and field trials
Without consistency, Bailey is lost.  He does not understand gray areas.  I need to remember that dogs think in black and white and never gray.  Almost all the training books told me and I didn't listen.

I'm learning by making mistakes.
Training Champions Hunting & Field Trialing : Puppies Started Right
  Now how long will it take to undo the damage from my inconsistency. 
 We shall see.