March 4 Training Day – Signup deadline 2/27

Thanks to everyone who attended our first indoor training day yesterday at the Spicer Arena. We were delighted by all the new faces and we’re geared up for our first field training day at Cobb Lake.

Norton, owned and handled by Rick Huber, became RMC’s newest VC in 2016 – the only Griff to pass the Invitational. It’s clear the RMC is rapidly becoming a Griff chapter.

Thanks too to all of you who are using Signup Genius to help us build a training roster and keep track of bird orders. We’ve already got so many folks signed up we’re about at the limits of our ability to make sure handlers have a productive training experience.

So, if you’re planning to attend on Saturday, you must respond to signup genius with your bird order by COB MONDAY. After Monday, we’re capping the roster to make sure all the handlers who signed up have a meaningful opportunity to train.

See you Saturday!
Theo Stein
President, RMC NAVHDA

Feb. 25 Indoor Training Day

To: RMC-NAVHDA Membership
From: Craig McLaughlin, Training Director
Subject: Indoor Training Session: February 25, 2017
Spicer Arena, 37440 County Road 43, Eaton, CO 80615
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
This indoor event is intended to provide new handlers of versatile dogs with an understanding of the NAVHDA training and testing system, highlighting the techniques and equipment used by chapter members to develop useful hunting companions. The morning session will be devoted to young dogs. More advanced training of older, experienced dogs will be discussed in the afternoon. Much of the time before lunch will include presentations and group discussions. Opportunities to work with dogs will come in late morning, when some indoor table and basic obedience drills will be discussed.
9:00 – Noon – Starting Puppies (Natural Ability Dogs)
We will start the day with a focus on new handlers and young dogs.  The morning will include a discussion of setting training goals for your pup’s first year, review of the NAVHDA approach to developing reliable gundogs, including the testing system that is the backbone of our approach. We will then review and explain the major types of training equipment and approaches that will help you build a solid hunting companion.  (We’ll be exposing dogs to birds on March 4.)
Noon – 1:00 – Lunch.
We will be providing a light lunch on site.
1:00 – 3:30 – Developing a finished hunting dog (Utility Dogs)
This will be a session devoted first to discussions about setting goals and developing training schedules that will produce a reliable hunting companion.  We will finish with some indoor training drills, including an overview of the force fetch  process.
 What to bring:
  • Warm clothing, for while we are indoors, the temperatures in the arena may be chilly. The weather forecast for Saturday is for high’s in the low 40’s.
  • A folding chair to be comfortable for the discussion sessions, and drinks (for you and your dog).
  • If you bring a dog, you will need to hold it in your vehicle for much of the day.  Dogs will need to be on lead at all times, unless they are actively participating in a training exercise.  Please bring necessary equipment to clean up after your dog.
Questions? Email




Wild bird, public land. That’s why we do what we do.

In just a few weeks, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of NAVHDA will kick off its 2017 schedule, so I wanted to take just a few minutes to update you on your Board’s recent annual meeting.

As we entered 2016, former president Phil Booghier outlined three big challenges for the chapter: financial stability, fundraising and membership. We had also seen some significant turnover on the Board. It seemed to me the Chapter was at an inflection point – I was concerned about where the next generation of leadership was going to come from.

Boy did that change in a hurry!

Membership doubled. Our financial picture stabilized. (That allowed us to leave dues unchanged for 2017.) We quickly found we were swamped at training days. And a cadre of young, very energetic members and new blood stepped up to help us deal with the growth. We’ve got a large ( and growing) group of handlers who have completed Natural Ability training and are moving to developing the advanced skills that characterize a fully functional versatile hunting dog.


Congrats to Rick Huber, who handled his Griff Norton to a VC at the 2016 Invitational!

For the cherry on top, super-volunteer Rick Huber, who does double duty as the president of the Frontier Chapter, handled his Griff Norton to a Versatile Champion title at the NAVHDA Invitational in Ohio. Congrats Rick!

Looking ahead

Now we have another challenge – Making sure we serve your needs as you work to train up the hunting dog that you want.

To that end, we’re offering three new training opportunities in 2017: An indoor training day on Feb. 25, a force-fetch clinic in June and an advanced skills training clinic in July.

We’ve also been gratified by the number of you who have stepped up to volunteer at our training and test events – and those who have expressed interest in learning about leadership roles in the Chapter. So we’re going to create a Volunteer Corps to formalize some of the training and help spread the workload in an effort to avoid volunteer burnout.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 9.07.55 AMBut to be fully successful, we need your help. First, we’re using an online application to build training day rosters. Please respond to invitations from Signup Genius to help us build training day plans and wrangle enough volunteers to keep handlers training and not standing around waiting.

Second, we need you to understand that we’re here to help you learn how to train your dog, but that you need to become your own training director. No one knows your dog like you: Is he/she soft or a knucklehead? Did your dog just blink a bird or did it miss the scent? What’s worked in the past? What hasn’t worked? For Utility handlers especially, you need to be training at least once a week on birds – and a couple times a week at home on other skills. From experience I can tell you it’s so much easier and more effective if you can work birds a small group.IMG_2213

So as you look around you at our March training day, try find a partner or handful of handlers to work with this year. Don’t be araid to ask one of the more experienced handlers if you can meet with them for training. Your dog will love you for it.

That’s all for now. If you haven’t updated your membership, please do. Training season is just around the corner.

See you in the field!

Theo Stein

Ready to dive into training?


The Rocky Mountain Chapter of NAVHDA has finalized its 2017 training schedule.

In addition to the traditional five training days at Cobb Lake SWA, we’re offering three new training opportunities this year.

  • Indoor training day – February 25: To make sure we hit the ground running on March 4, we’re holding an indoor training day at the Spicer Arena on Saturday Feb. 25. The goal of the day is to introduce new handlers to the equipment they’ll be using during training days and the elements of NAVHDA tests. Trainer/handlers of young dogs will learn about preparing for the Natural Ability Test, and we will also discuss the various aspects of more advanced testing designed to help provide fully functional hunting dogs. Handlers working on more advanced skills (Utility Prep, Utility, or Invitational Test levels) are encouraged to attend so we can hear what your training goals are for the coming year. Look for an invitation from Signup Genius soon.
  • Force Fetch Clinic – June TBD: This is a special clinic for UT Handlers who want to successfully take their dog through Force Fetch. Tom Swezey of Indian Brook Kennels – an experienced trainer and NAVHDA breeder, will host it. Participation will be limited to 10 handlers per day. (A second day will be added if there’s enough interest.) There will be a fee. Expect an invitation through Signup Genius when details are finalized.
  • Advanced Skills Training Clinic – July 8-9: This is a special, two-day clinic to help UT handlers learn how to train their dogs to be successful in the skills possessed by a finished gun dog, including steadiness in the field and duck search. To be hosted at Cobb Lake SWA by Blaine Carter of the NAVHDA Yankee Chapter in Maine. Attendance will be limited. There will be a fee. Expect an invitation through Signup Genius when details are finalized.IMG_1845

Regular Training Days
at Cobb Lake SWA

  • March 4
  • April 1
  • May 6
  • June 3
  • August 5

What’s up with Signup Genius? We’ve been blown away by the increased membership over the past two years. Planning for and managing training days to make sure they are productive for all handlers has been a challenge. To ensure we’re ready for you, we create a training roster for each day – something that’s proved to be time-consuming. This year, we’re using Signup Genius to help us track RSVPs and to take bird orders. IF YOU DO NOT RSVP TO TRAINING INVITATIONS WITH SIGNUP GENIUS, YOUR BIRD ORDER WILL NOT BE TALLIED. You’ll still be able to train with us, but you’ll be on your own for birds that day. To ensure you receive Signup Genius invitations, update your Chapter membership today!

Questions? Email RMC NAVHDA.


Spring Test Update

Rocco retrieve

Director of Testing Phil Goodwin sent a note yesterday ( Jan 31) advising that the Spring Test is completely full.

The Fall Test has a maximum of six slots remaining ( depending on whether dogs are running NA or UT.)

If you’ve wanted to test with us this year and have not gotten your application in – DON’T DESPAIR. We normally see a number of registered dogs drop out of each test, so hurry up and send in your application so you can get on the wait list.

Theo Stein