Thursday, March 25, 2021

Adjusting the Thermostat

As we entered the training field I noticed Candy was pulling a little too hard on the checkcord. I asked her to stop and stand still for a moment hoping she would lose some of her excitement and start to focus on me. Once she appeared to calm down, I tapped her on the side to release her and we moved forward. She resumed pulling so I turned, gave a quick tug on the checkcord and said, “Here” as I walked in a new direction. We did a few of these turns and tugs until she calmed down and started paying attention.

A dog has to pay attention to you in order to learn. Just as children learn best when they are sitting at their desks and not roughhousing in the playground, dogs learn more when they are calm and able to focus on you and the training. Research shows that dogs use two distinct parts of their brains – a rational or thinking part, and a more primitive or instinctive part (the amygdala). In Candy’s case, she was using the primitive part - fired up and not listening, so I moved her into the rational part by giving her a couple of commands that made her pay attention and lowered her “thermostat”.

There were two launchers in different areas of the training field. Each one was loaded with a homing pigeon. We were in the early stages of Formal Training and I was teaching Candy to be Steady to Wing and Shot. I needed her reasonably calm before taking her to a launcher so she could focus on the training, as well as remember what she had learned in previous workouts. She was still pulling hard but after a few more repetitions of stop and stand still and “Here”, she was ready to take to a launcher.

Carefully I maneuvered Candy crosswind to the first launcher. She hit scent about 20 feet away and froze into a beautiful point. I remained behind her, got a good grip on the checkcord and launched the bird. When the bird flew, she launched herself towards the bird and came to a stop as she reached the end of the checkcord. I got to her quickly and gently stroked her as she watched the pigeon fly off. To say the pigeon excited her was an understatement. Clearly the predator in her had been aroused. Her pupils were dilated, her mouth was salivating, and her whole body was quivering. To put it another way – the thermostat had been raised. In an instant she had moved from the rational part of her brain to the primitive part.

Before Candy was ready to work on the second launcher, I wanted to lower the thermostat. I needed her to come back to paying attention and thinking, not just reacting. As a long time follower of Bill West and the West method, I’ve learned the concept of on birds and around birds. On birds means a dog has sight or scent of the bird. Around birds means the dog knows birds are around but does not see or smell them.  Around birds is the time to lower the thermostat by moving the dog from the primitive part to the rational part so the dog can calm down and think. As I had done earlier with Candy when I first entered the training field, I worked her on stop and stand, asked her to go with me and corrected her accordingly. By getting her to think about what I was asking her to do, I got her refocused on me and paying attention again. As soon as Candy’s thermostat was lower, she was ready to work on the second launcher.

Reading a dog’s thermostat is key to being a successful trainer. While Candy’s thermostat needed to be lowered in this session, there are situations when a dog needs the thermostat raised. A while back I made a poorly timed ecollar correction with a dog. During the next workout I noticed that he was not excited as we walked around the training field. In fact, he remained at my side. One of the best ways to raise a dog’s thermostat is to shoot a bird. Shooting a bird brings out the predator in dogs and moves them into the primitive part of their brain. So for three workouts I took this dog straight to a bird, shooting and bringing the shot bird back for him to carry. It was not long before he was pulling hard on the checkcord again and I was back to trying to lower the thermostat.

Raising and lowering the thermostat does not just take place in the training field. You should carry this concept with you anytime you interact with a dog. A friend was teaching his four months old pup to handle and we were running the pup in some big hay fields. “Hey, hey”, he yelled asking the pup to go with him. The pup was settling down, staying forward and doing a good job of paying attention. My friend was clearly proud of the progress. He asked me when he could start putting out quail for his pup to find. I reminded him about the thermostat and told him that it was not a good time to work on birds when he was teaching his pup to handle. I explained that birds will raise the thermostat and his pup will stop listening. It is not fair to the pup to expect him to handle when around birds.

Some dogs get excited from running. This excitement builds as they run and before long the thermostat is raised and the rational part is replaced by the primitive part. Any time that your dog stops listening and you find yourself yelling or using higher levels of ecollar stimulation, first try to lower the thermostat before correcting him. Remember that the most effective way to get him to listen again is to ask him to pay attention to you. Whether you are on foot or horseback, get your dog’s attention by changing direction and asking him to go with you. Help him settle down and start thinking again. But for a dog that does not venture far and is often checking in, you can build confidence by following him and working him on birds. Before long, birds will get him fired up, he’ll start running, and the primitive part of the brain will kick in.

As you become more proficient at raising and lowering the thermostat, you will automatically be gauging your dog’s level of excitement. “I need to calm her down” you tell yourself. Or maybe you’ll notice she does not seem very excited today so you work at getting her more fired up. Over time you’ll discover that training has become a whole lot easier. You are using less pressure to correct her and she is retaining what you’ve taught her. She even acts proud of herself and you find yourself feeling proud too and, without realizing it, you’ve become a better trainer. Who knew it could be so easy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

When Doing Nothing Is Something

Last winter I pulled out of Virginia for a month of field trials in North Carolina and Georgia. I was hauling a horse trailer with four dogs and one horse. First stop was Hoffman, NC, for ten days of trials. During this time I ran one dog in an Open Derby stake. Two weeks later with a short trip to South Carolina to do laundry and buy supplies, I was on the road to DiLane Plantation in Waynesboro, GA. Another week of trials and none of the dogs I carried were run. From Waynesboro I headed to Albany, GA and another week of field trials followed by a return to South Carolina and finally back home to Virginia.

During these four weeks my dogs lived on a stake-out chain or in individual crates in the horse trailer. Their routine was to go from trailer to stakeout chain every morning. They would stretch, drink some water and do their business. Then back in the trailer until noon when they were let out again and back in the trailer until late afternoon when they were again let out, fed and put back in the trailer for the night. The next morning the process began all over again.

When I got home from this trip, I discovered I had four extremely well-mannered dogs. It was like someone had been training them and yet I had done nothing or at least I thought I had done nothing with them. How could four weeks on the road produce four well-mannered dogs? I told a pro-trainer friend about my experience and he laughed. He told me about a similar experience he had after losing his training grounds that adjoined his property. He had always taken a dog out of the kennel, mounted his horse and roaded or heeled the dog a short distance before getting down to work. Now he had to drive to his new training grounds so every morning he loaded dogs and horses in the horse trailer and drove 20 minutes to the new grounds. And once he got to the grounds, the dogs pretty much stayed in their crates until it was their turn to run. What he did not expect was the dogs took training better and not just better—much better. Something definitely happened mentally to his dogs when they were confined.

This idea of keeping dogs in their crates stirred up a long forgotten memory from one of the first dog training books I read. The book was The Koehler Method of Dog Training by William Koehler. Koehler was the chief trainer for Walk Disney Studios and in the book he recommend s confining a dog in a crate for two hours prior to training. Koehler felt that confinement before training made training a more positive option in the dog’s mind and thus the dog was more likely to want to comply with the trainer.

I spoke to my friend Mo Lindley who told me about a well-bred Vizsla that had come in for training. She was blinking birds and became scared if she saw another dog on point. Mo said he worked and worked trying to fix her but after a couple of months, he had made no progress and decided to give up on her. She sat in his kennel for a couple of weeks and then for some reason he decided to try her again. He took her out, worked her on a bird and to his surprise she pointed it. When he killed it, she broke at shot and retrieved it to him. Laying her up did something for her mentally that he could not explain.

Will we every understand dogs? I doubt it but being observant can help us unravel some of the things dogs do that often appear to be counter-intuitive to us. Last spring I had a dog that was bound and determined to delay-chase (go back to the bird) after a find. One day she and I really got into it and I realized I was on my way to creating a bigger problem than the one I already had and quit working her. This fall I thought—what the heck, I’ll take her out. Darned if she did not walk at heel and stand still to be released. How did this happen when all she had was time off? Most trainers want to fix a dog’s problems and sometimes this works but sometimes it does not. The natural human instinct is to press forward, train more, work harder but what the dogs are showing us is that sometimes time off, whether it is in a crate or kennel, is the solution. Sometimes doing nothing is something.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thinking About the Stand Command

I’ve been getting some questions about the stand command that got me thinking about why it’s so important to the West method. Simply put, the stand command is a non-verbal command to stop and stand-still. From the dog’s view point, the stand command shows the dog what you expect him to do once the bird flushes, and for you, it’s a silent command to teach your dog to pay attention to you and eventually earn his respect.

This summer I had an opportunity to work a two-year old English setter named Molly. Molly was the type of dog that had been allowed to do her own thing for most of her life. A friend described her perfectly when he said she was self-employed. She was self-employed so the first thing I did was teach her that I was part of the team. Besides introducing the e-collar and teaching her to go with me, the stand command gave me a way to gain her attention in the training field.

I used two cues to teach the stand command, a tug of the pinch-collar and a nick (momentary stimulation) with the e-collar and I used them at the same time. Once Molly stopped and I was standing next to her, I showed her that this command also meant all four feet had to be planted on the ground until I released her with a tap on the side. As I watched her feet for any movement, I worked at stepping behind her and in front of her. If she took a step, I combined the nick and tug to ask her to stop. After a couple of workouts it was clear Molly wasn’t paying attention to me. While I could get her to stop and stand, her tail wagged back-and-forth in rapid beats and she was focused on the horizon instead of me.

I needed to do more to get into her head so I began to pick her up by the pinch-collar and tail and set her back about 6 inches for taking a step. If she took another step, I got hold of the pinch-collar and spun her in a circle. The spin didn’t hurt her but it disoriented her.

After a couple of weeks with little progress, I decided to use the nick cue by itself without the pinch-collar tug. By now I was 90% sure Molly knew how to stand still—she just didn’t want to do it. In the next workout and once Molly was stopped, I started to walk in front of her, and when she took a step, I nicked her. I guessed right and she stopped. I continued to walk and as I turned and started back towards her, she looked me right in the eyes. It was the first time she gave me eye contact, and as I petted her up, I chuckled at how pleased she was with herself. While there was still lots to do, she was working for me now and training would be easier and more fun.

Once I had Molly’s attention and she understood the stand command, I was ready to use this command to teach her not to chase pigeons. Molly loved to point a pigeon in a releaser but she also loved to chase it when it flew. Her point was natural, but standing still and letting me walk in front of her to flush the bird went against her every instinct to survive. She saw the bird as hers and my job was to teach her it was mine. When pointing pigeons in releasers, I had let her chase to the end of the check-cord, but now I began to stop her earlier and I set her back about 6 inches and walked in front of her. If she took a step, I spun her and set her back and kept at it until she let me walk in front of her. It didn’t take long before she realized she already knew what I was asking her to do. It was the stand command. The only difference between what I was doing around birds and how I’d taught the stand command was I avoided using the e-collar since the releaser was still on the ground and I didn’t want her associating the e-collar with the releaser.

Molly isn’t steady on birds yet but I’m already imagining the problems I might encounter with her. As training advances, dogs like Molly that don’t readily give you their attention may start to challenge you for the bird. These dogs stand solid on point but start to creep or charge in just as you walk past them to flush. Any time a dog competes with you, chances are he doesn’t respect you and often this lack of respect can be traced back to the stand command and the trainer not being demanding enough. Once a dog accepts training and allows you to walk in front of him, he is giving you respect. If your dog is having problems during the steadying process, many of these problems can be fixed by reviewing the stand command, even with older dogs that have started knocking birds. Maurice Lindley describes the stand command as the glue that holds the West method together. It certainly does and it holds this method together on multiple levels. By making sure you do a good job teaching this command, your dog will understand what you expect of him around birds and you will experience the joy of working a dog that respects you.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Correcting Your Dog at a Field Trial

Correcting your dog at a field trial is different than correcting him in training. Anytime you are training, your dog wears an e-collar, and if he knocks a bird, you can make a timely correction and stay in control. Since dogs aren’t allowed to wear e-collars at field trials, correcting your dog becomes more complicated. You need to get to him quickly to give a correction that makes sense to him, and the correction must be physical. Making a physical correction is tricky because most judges don’t allow you to make corrections or do any “training” on the course.
Over the years, I have made a few corrections when no one was looking that included a horse rein, biting an ear, and half-choking a dog with the ID collar once I got hold of him. Fortunately for my dogs, these corrections didn’t work, and I moved on to finding better ways to keep my dogs honest. I decided to build better habits during training so my dogs needed fewer corrections at trials. One of the first things I did was to wait longer before I ran a dog in an adult stake. A dog’s manners had to be good in five or six consecutive training sessions before he was ready to enter. Also, I didn’t enter him in multiple stakes during a weekend trial until I could count on him getting around the course with clean bird work in a single stake. A lot of dogs get so excited after they run the first time that running them again in the same weekend is like pouring gasoline on an already out-of-control fire.
If you think about it, the level of energy at a field trial can be off the charts. Handlers are yelling and blowing their whistles, horses are snorting, bracemates are running wild, and your dog has probably been confined in a crate or on a stakeout chain for most of the weekend. His adrenalin will be pumping when you break him away making it even harder for him to remember the training. Some suggestions to help your dog remember the training at a trial include arriving early and running him before the trial or staying late and running him after the trial when it is permitted. Training with other people or putting on a mock field trial can be very productive. Try to put your dog in as many situations as possible that are similar to a field trial but where your dog can still wear an e-collar.
Be consistent with your dog at a field trial and realize his success has a lot to do with you. As a handler, you need to be able to read your dog and don’t allow him to get away with mistakes. I’m sure you’ve seen handlers who want to win so they let their dogs to get away with breeches of manners. Maurice Lindley trains dogs for amateur field trialers and gives his clients some smart advice, “Don’t excuse your dog’s bad manners at a trial. If your dog does something at a trial that you wouldn‘t excuse during a training session, you need to pick him up. Don’t wait on the judge. Go ahead and pick him up. It will go a long way to keeping him honest at trials.”
During a field trial, poorly timed corrections and severe corrections may work for some dogs once you ride them down and get your hands on them, but these dogs get harder and harder to catch and you can ruin a lot of good dogs this way. Some may lose style or become afraid of you. Now, that’s not to say you don’t do anything when your dog knocks a bird. If I can get to my dog quickly, I might whoa him and make him stand still before collaring him back to the horse or whatever. Putting him in a roading harness or on the dog wagon may seem minor but it puts you back in control and stops your dog from getting into more trouble.
Even when you’ve done everything right and worked hard to keep your dog honest, some dogs still get into trouble. One reason is because a dog has to want to be steady. He has to buy into the training. I have a dog that was rock solid in training but she continued to chase birds at trials. I ran her for two seasons and never got her around clean. By the third season, I was feeling very discouraged. I talked to a pro trainer who knew her well, and he told me to hang in there and be patient. “Some dogs just take longer,” he said. The third season was almost over when I finally got her around clean. She had a beautiful run with three finds and took second place. Who knows why it took her so long but the switch had finally turned on.
Field trialing is a tough sport and not every dog is going to make it. Some of your dog’s success is because of his breeding but a lot has to do with you. Over the years, I have come to believe there is no good way to correct a dog at a field trial. The path to having a winning dog doesn’t include cleverly delivered corrections when no one is looking. Instead, it begins with building good habits in your dog during training, entering him when he’s ready, and picking him up when he makes mistakes. If you set up your dog for success and avoid having to make many corrections at a trial, you give him a good shot at being in the winner’s circle.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Good and the Bad of Training with Homing Pigeons

It’s hard to beat homing pigeons as the bird of choice for the early stages of the steadying process. They are easy to obtain, easy to keep and they return to the loft. Pigeons don’t hold for pointing dogs so you have to restrain them in some manner. While you can make a pigeon stay put by dizzying the head and tucking it under its wing or tying a cardboard tether to one of its legs, homing pigeons act too tame in these situations and will teach your dog bad habits by allowing him to creep or crowd them before they fly.

Maurice Lindley developed a method using remote launchers and homing pigeons for steadying dogs (see Training with Mo: How Maurice Lindley Trains Pointing Dogs by Martha Greenlee). Launchers work best for training setups such as stop-to-flush and backing where the dog doesn’t have scent of the bird. If you want your dog to point a launcher, you need to be careful. If your dog gets too close, the launcher may scare him when the bird is ejected. Another problem is the dog knows the launcher is unnatural and he quickly figures out the bird isn’t free to move around. If you let your dog point too many launchers, he can turn them into a game filled with bad habits. I had a training buddy whose dog started out pointing launchers, but because she trained on them too long, her dog stopped pointing and started charging as soon as he smelled one. He wanted to make the bird fly.

A Higgin’s remote releaser works best for pointing setups. It is a metal cage with a lid that opens remotely so the bird is free to go when pressured by a dog. Dogs relate to releasers differently than launchers. While a launcher is usually planted in thick cover so the dog can’t see it, a releaser is planted in lighter cover. The bird can see the dog coming and the dog can see the bird, usually when the lid opens, and realizes he can catch it. The bird knows it better fly or else and if the dog makes a dive for the bird, he knows he’s the one putting it in the air.

In Maurice’s method, you use homing pigeons to develop your dog’s point, teach basic commands and introduce the e-collar during the first couple of months of the steadying process. You are building the foundation and all of the hours you spend in the training field will boil down to achieving one major accomplishment—teaching your dog the e-collar. You should be able to stop your dog with the e-collar as he is chasing a bird, and once he stops, you should be able to walk out in front of him while he remains standing. Once this accomplishment is achieved, your dog is ready to advance to loose birds.

The hardest part of training with homing pigeons is giving them up. Maurice puts it this way, “Launchers are great tools for a very short period of time.” Unfortunately, some amateur trainers get so comfortable with the control pigeons offer that they continue to train on them to the detriment of their dogs; or they return to pigeons after their dogs have already advanced to quail. Last month I watched a dog barely indicate a pigeon in a releaser. The dog looked miserable as his tail slowly wagged back and forth, his head turned away. The owner couldn’t understand why the dog looked so bad and described how beautiful he had looked pointing wild quail earlier in the year. I tried to explain that his dog was beyond pigeon work.

Once you move to loose birds, you don’t go back. Loose birds, usually quail, are more challenging to use and the training gets harder. More things have to go right to have success. You need good flying birds, proper cover, fast reflexes and skill with the e-collar. You no longer control the flush—the bird does. And you are going to make mistakes, lots of them, but your dog is going to handle them because you’ve already built a good foundation with homing pigeons. It’s easy to understand why some amateurs hesitate moving their dogs forward or they return to pigeons after their dogs have advanced to quail, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet. Sometimes you have to think about what is best for your dog and leave your comfort zone and the bad habits that result from training with pigeons too long. When your dog is ready to advance, you need to advance with him. It may be hard to do, no doubt about it, and you’ll miss the control you had with homing pigeons, but loose birds will make you a better trainer and your dog a better bird dog. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

On Birds and Around Birds

Good pointing dog trainers have an overview of the steadying process. They think less about specific training steps and more about training in broader terms. A good example is Bill West. If you ever spent time around Bill, you heard the terms on birds and around birds. When a dog was on birds, the dog had scent of a bird. When a dog was around birds, the dog knew birds were in the area or he saw birds fly, but no scent was involved. The difference between on birds and around birds may seem insignificant, but if you think about it, most training situations take place either on birds or around birds, and you may be surprised at how these two simple terms can help keep your dog happy and manage his level of excitement as you go through formal training.

One of the first rules in the Bill West method is to train a dog in a field where the dog is around birds. The dog thinks he can find birds so he is happy to be out there and in a good frame of mind to learn. When he does a good job, he is rewarded by being worked on birds. This bird contact increases his level of excitement, and he will look for birds in the next workout. Unfortunately, dogs that are worked in the backyard, where they haven’t found birds, rarely enjoy training and some lose interest altogether.

As training progresses, these two terms help you manage your dog’s level of excitement the same way you adjust a thermostat. Not hot enough, you work him on birds. Too hot, you work him around birds. Anytime your dog is around birds, he is calmer and you need less pressure to gain his attention.  Here is where the majority of teaching takes place and where your dog learns to be obedient to your commands. Take the stand command. Teaching this command is basic obedience work, which most dogs find boring, but if your dog is worked around birds, he is in a good state of mind to learn and he stays relatively calm. And because he’s not on birds, you can get your hands on him, set him back, spin him or stroke him and you’re not coming between him and the bird.

If you make a mistake or notice your dog is less excited about being out there, you can work him on birds and quickly build back his excitement. Just last week, I was working a young dog and teaching him the e-collar cue for the stand command. About the third time I nicked him with the e-collar, he became concerned. As soon as I saw this change, I took him right to a bird and let him point it, and he became excited again.

Sometimes you have a dog on the end of a check-cord that is dragging you around and too excited to focus on training. You can lower his excitement level by working on obedience around birds, not on birds. It may take a couple of weeks of simply asking him to go with you and come to you on the check-cord, but until you gain his focus, he isn’t ready to work on birds. If you begin bird work before your dog is focused on training, you will have to use more pressure to teach him and this extra pressure often shows up as problems later on.

Bill West had two well-known students, pro trainers Bill Gibbons and Maurice Lindley, that developed their own unique methods for working dogs on birds and around birds. Bill Gibbons worked dogs in a procession where each dog, guided with a check-cord by a handler, followed behind another dog. The dog in front was brought in to point a bird while the other dogs were stopped and allowed to watch from behind. These dogs were around birds and this is where the basic obedience commands were taught. Maurice Lindley brought Bill to South Carolina to teach a seminar, and after watching Bill’s procession, he developed a launcher program to simulate Bill’s method of working around birds. (See Training with Mo: How Maurice Lindley Trains Pointing Dogs by Martha Greenlee).

As you gain a better understanding of the terms on birds and around birds, you’ll see how managing your dog’s energy level gives you a broader view of the steadying process. Whenever your dog seems too excited, you can work him on obedience around birds to regain his focus so you need less pressure to teach him, and if your dog seems bored or isn’t up for training, you can work him on birds to rekindle his excitement. During each workout, you are constantly making adjustments to the thermostat, turning it up or down, as you react to what your dog did or anticipate what he’s about to do. And as you learn to keep him happy and manage his energy level, you will discover that you are leaving far fewer fingerprints on your dog than ever before.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reading the Tail

Understanding a dog’s body language separates good trainers from mediocre ones. A dog’s tail is one of the most expressive parts of his body and knowing how to read the tail is like looking through a window into his mind. Recently, I had an opportunity to observe a variety of tails when Maurice Lindley presented a pointing dog seminar at our kennel in Virginia. For three days, I watched Mo work a total of twenty dogs of different breeds, ages, sexes and levels of experience, and while their looks and actions were varied, their body language was the same. It was the universal language of pointing dogs.
On the first day, Mo evaluated the dogs by putting a pinch-collar and check-cord on them and walking them around the training field. Initially, some of the dogs tucked their tails as they walked indicating they were uncomfortable. As Mo began asking them to stop and stand still he stroked them a couple of times for praise before moving them on. After being stopped and stroked a couple of times, most of the tails began to come up. Mo explained, “When I first start walking a dog around on the check-cord and pinch-collar, I watch how he carries himself. A dog that isn't confident may tuck his tail until he figures out everything is OK. After I work with him a couple of times, the tail starts to come up at least to level with the back, which tells me the dog is becoming comfortable and ready to learn.”
Two of the dogs held their tails up in a more confident manner. As Mo began to walk them around the field and asked them to stop and stand still, both dogs stood still with all four feet planted on the ground except for their tails which were going around in little circles at ninety miles a minute. Mo explained, “Some dogs see everything that moves in the field. There is a lot of looking around and a fast circular tail action which tells me they are in a different world and not focused on me. These dogs take extra work to prepare for training. I’ll have to work hard to gain their attention and get them in a submissive state of mind so they accept me as their boss. A dog has to submit and buy into the training before I move him forward and this is before I get to bird work.”
On the second day, Mo planted quail and turned loose some of the older dogs, one at a time. Most of the dogs had tails that cracked with a happy animated action indicating they were thinking about birds and focused on hunting. One dog ran with a flat tail and acted like he was more interested in running than hunting or listening to his handler. Most of the dogs pointed with intensity but one dog was so jacked up and intense on point that his tail quivered with excitement. It came as no surprise that he charged in to flush the birds at the same time as the handler walked in. Another dog pointed staunchly but then his tail loosened up and began to flag in a slow back and forth action as the dog lost confidence that a bird was there. Once the handler asked him to move up, the dog went forward and pointed rock solid.
Reading your dog’s tail takes experience, but the more you pay attention to the tail, the better trainer you will become. As you go through the steadying process, your dog’s tail will tell you what is going on in his mind. You will start to see when your dog is ready to learn, when he’s happy, when he’s confused, when he’s not paying attention, and when he needs his confidence built up. And don’t just limit yourself to looking at your own dogs; go to a training day or a seminar or field trial and watch as many dogs as you can. I knew a National Champion that always ran with a high tail except when he was getting ready to knock birds. I used to chuckle when I was riding his brace and saw his tail drop because I knew exactly what he was about to do.