I met Gene at a field trial over 9 years ago and was able to watch some of the dogs that he had trained. I was planning on getting a new Gordon Setter pup in a few years and asked Gene if he would be interested in training him. Well I did not get the pup until 5 years ago and then made the mistake of not using him. Instead I used another trainer to green break him. He was broke alright but all of his style was gone. I got a hold of Gene and asked him if he was interested in helping me get things turned around with my dog “Zak”. I still remember what Gene said with a slight grin "I thought you were going to bring him here when he was a puppy”, and boy do I wish I would have. It was a tall order for Gene as I planned on competing him in field trials. Zak needed to learn to retrieve and point with style. Gene worked hard with Zak, getting him steady to wing and shot with style. He is a retrieving machine now with a soft mouth and delivery to hand. With all the training Gene put into my dog Zak and helping me learn to handle him, I now have a very “polished bird dog”. With limited trials due to injuries, we have placed more than not. Last month at the Gordon Setter National Field Trial in Eureka, Kansas, Zak took second in the Walking Open Gun Dog stake. My wife’s Gordon Setter “Sara” went runner up in the Amateur Gun Dog stake at the same trial. Gene trained Sara and taught my wife how to run her. None of this would have been possible without Gene’s hard work and commitment. We now have a young Gordon Setter pup whom I will not make the same mistake with as I did with Zak. He will be going out hunting and starting his training with Gene as a pup.
My dog Sara was runner up at the 2015 Gordon Setter of America National Amateur Field Championship in Eureka, Kansas. I was her handler in that one hour stake. I never would have achieved this without Gene. Heck, I would never have thought of even handling my dog in a field competition if Gene had not challenged me to do so.
I met Gene and Ute through my husband, Dave. Dave was spending most weekends at Gene and Ute’s and I thought he must be having a lot of fun up in Chino Valley so I started tagging along. After a few visits of watching Dave work his dog Zak, Gene asked me “why don’t you handle a dog?” If you know Gene, it was more than just a question, he was challenging me. Over the next several weeks I thought about what he said. I did have a dog, Sara, just sitting at home being a couch potato. To clarify, Sara is a well-bred field Gordon. Her sire is both a National Field Champion and a National Amateur Field Champion.
Over the next several years Gene trained both Sara and I. He broke Sara steady to wing and shot. He also taught her to retrieve, which is not natural for a Gordon Setter. Sara took first place in 2016 at the Southern Arizona German Shorthaired Pointer Club field trial. This was an amateur gun dog retrieving stake. She beat out a strong field of German Shorthairs and Vizslas. This has put her well on her way to earning her Field Championship. Gene polished Sara as field competitor and gave me the tools to compete with her. He is a great trainer and teacher.
Gene and Ute always encouraged me. At times along the way I wanted to give up on myself and my dog. They helped me overcome my doubts. Going up to Chino Valley I thought I would be just training my dog, but through those many visits I have developed a friendship with Gene and Ute which goes beyond the competition.Sara and I are a team. Nothing compares to the feeling I get when we are covering the course and Sara goes on point. The experience of working with my dog has made me a better person and given me the best hobby in the world, hunting over a broke dog! Thank you Gene for challenge!