Latest News

  • 30th September 2017: We are so proud of Jo and Murphy for their Novice Rally-O qualifying round for their title! Em's first born is the first to gain an ANKC title and I was thrilled to be there to see it happen. Way to go! Murphy will be officially known as Thornfield Embargo RN.

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  • 22nd September 2017: As Em was busy with her puppies and Ginny decided to come into season, it was up to Ziggy to help Sally prepare for the Victorian Gundog Club's Retrieving Trial in Yea. Truth be told he just did an awful lot of flirting with the Golden Retriever girls!!!



  • 11th September 2017: Thornfield are thrilled to announce the arrival of Em's second litter. We look forward to raising these beautiful pups over the next 8-10 weeks with the best of food, socialisation and enrichment that we can offer. All puppies are currently spoken for.



  • 1st August 2017: Check out DOGS Victoria's latest newsletter which is targeted at the general public - breed features, what's on, health and more! OK, so we might be a biased...Ziggy made the Dalmatian breed feature - it's a cracking photo too, thanks to fellow agility competitor Darren Wallace.


  • 30th July 2017: Sally's Recallers video made the top 50! On top of a full Recallers Alumni scholarship we will get a peep into Susan Garrett's "Inner Circle" videos. Looking forward to that!


  • 25th July 2017: Congratulations Jo and Murphy on winnning 12 months FREE access to Susan Garrett's brilliant Recallers course. Jo did a fabulous video to win her prize (Top 100!)and she will no doubt look forward to playng more fun games with Murhpy. Sally also made it into the top 100 with her video. And you know what this means? Recallers is opening up again soon!!! Stay tuned and sign up for notifcations here. Meanwhile, why not check out the winning entries...

Dog Training using Recallers Games is the Gateway to Success from Jo Bates on Vimeo.


Dog Training Playing Recaller Games Is....The Difference Between What I've Got And What I Want! from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 18th July: Fingers crossed Em is cooking up a storm! Or at least a few babies....3 progesterone tests, 3 round trips to Geelong, 1 fresh AI and 1 natural mating, all we can do now is cross our fingers and paws! We chose a gorgeous stud dog called "Monty" who has travelled from the UK with his family. He is a true field-type ESS with a sunny personality and a lovely moderate build. We are thrilled to be able to introduce some fresh lines into our breeding. Just like Em, Monty is genetically clear for PRA, Fucosidosis and PFK deficiency so all puppies (things going to plan!) will be clear by parentage.



  • 15th/16th July: What an amazing weekend of retrieivng trialling for the Victorian Gundog Club. As trial secretary and joint trial manager, Sally was quite relieved not to be able to run a dog - with Em just being mated and Ginny not quite ready for Novice - as there was a lot to organise! On Saturday we welcomed Mr Jeff Bourman MP (Shooters and Fishers Party) and DOGS Victoria CE, Dr Tim Adams to see some of the best Gundogs in the country at work. We even had Jeff, Tim and his wife Karen sitting with us on a thrower in All Age so they could get a birds eye view of the dogs launching into the water. They were simply blown away by the level of training, were kind enough to stay for presentations and promised to return for more.



  • 1st July: You know it's chilly when your Springer has ice (and a smile) on her face. So what did her daughter do? She went swimming of course!!!

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  • 30th June 2017: I was thrilled to be invited to work Em on quail at a licensed game farm. She worked effortlessly for 5 hours with a couple of short breaks and the 'guns' thought she was just fabulous. So much so that we've been asked back next weekend. The following day Em showed Ginny the ropes - working the creek line and flushing the remaining quail back towards the traps. Here's a taste of what heaven looks like a for a field-bred ESS!

Em & Ginny working quail from Sally H. on Vimeo.



  • 17th June 2017: Sometimes I wonder how it can get better than this! Jo and Murphy had a great adventure at Hasting's Rally-O trial with a 7th place Q in Novice! Jo's lovely old dog, Timber, also got a 5th place Q so there were fancy ribbons, certificates, prizes and very happy dogs and handler too!

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Jo and Murphy celebrating at the end of the exercise. Photo courtesy of Sal Robinson.


  • 16th June 2017: We finally had an opportunity to introduce Ginny to the remote thrower aka Bumper Boy. I think she likes it!

Ginny's retrieving training from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 3rd/4th June 2017: What a lovely way to spend a weekend...visiting Em's breeder, showing off Ginny and meeting a potential stud dog, Monty. Ginny and Monty had THE best time playing and his family are just lovely. We hope to able to use him soon!

Monty meets Ginny from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 24th May 2017: Tonight is the DOGS Victoria AGM, which means Sally will be offically a member of Management Committee for the next 4 years. This will entail monthly meetings at a minimum and a responsibilty to be a voice for the members. 


  • 19th May 2017: Professor Ginny and I participated in two tutorials at Melbourne Uni today, teaching small groups of students about the application of positive reinforcement training. Targeting the touch stick and retrieving a tissue from the box were our two new behaviours and the students did really well, particularly since Ginny has never worked for anyone but me. Such fun! And soooo many treats. Check out the promo video here!



  • 13th May 2017: We had a lovely day out  at Frankston's agility trial. Em was a one fault wonder dog all day due to some unfortunate handling choices on my part but her weaves, after retraining Susan Garrett's 2x2s and conscious handling changes, were just gorgeous. Poor Ginny gave herself a horrible fright by demolishing a jump in her first run and subsequently bolted back to her crate in horror at these strange jumps that "bite". Thank you to all who expressed their concern and special thanks to judges Sue Gonelli and Fiona Ashton who very kindly allowed me to build her confidence in their rings once the trial was over. Ginny started warily but quickly figured out that everything was fine and finished the session by flying through a short sequence in her usual exuberant Spaniel style. Ziggy saved the day - once again - with a cracking run in Sue's Open Jumping for 4th place!

Ziggy @ Frankston from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 7th May 2017: Wow! Always a busy day at Dog Lovers Show but this year our Ziggy took part in the Weave Pole Challenge with a great bunch of Awesome Paws students. It was LOUD - the crowd went crazy - and the dogs coped incredibly well. We could not take 2 steps without Zig being grabbed, patted or photographed - he's so patient and I'm very grateful to have such a bomb proof dog.


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  • 6th May 2017: Thanks to the Hungarian Vizsla Club of Victoria for once again hosting a Restricted to Group 3 (Gundog) Agility Trial. It's always a lovely day out and Annette's courses were challenging but extremely rewarding. Em was 1st overall in Open Jumping and Excellent Agility and gained her ADX title to finish it off!

Em's ADX Title from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 29th April 2017: What a fabulous day out at the Dogs Vic State Games trial! Special thanks to the organisers, judges, stewards and helpers for a well run event - it was such an enjoyable day. Em had 3 qualifiers from 4 runs including 2 x 5th places (all heights) and her Novice Gambler title. Ziggy came to the party with his 2 runs - a 4th place Q in Excellent Snooker A plus a rather fun 3rd place NQ in Excellent Snooker B. Not one qualifier in the last course as the time was fast and we were all too greedy and went for points. Zig ran it so well but was just 2 seconds over time so clearly handler strategy needs work. Of course the girls needed to cool down afterwards, never mind that it was FREEZING!




  • 28th April 2017: It's not only the Thornfield dogs who get out and about. Dizzy made the trip into the University of Melbourne to help deliver a lecture on cat behaviour. He just LOVED all the attention!



  • 23rd April 2017: A birthday run and swim - from L to R: son and brother, Murphy, Em and Ginny.



  • 22nd April 2017: Two years ago today, Miss Em was madly nesting in preparation for the birth of her four beautiful babies, Murphy, Humphrey, Zac and Ginny. I'm so grateful for my darling, crazy girls who inspire me every day to be a better dog trainer.



  • 22nd April 2017: What a way to celebrate the second birthday of her first litter! Em excelled herself at Action Dogs' Agility Trial with first places in Excellent Agility A, Excellent Agility B, Novice Gamblers and a third place in Masters Jumping. Em was the ONLY dog to run clear in both ADX classes. And we won a brand new crate in the raffle too!



  • 7th, 8th and 9th April 2017: Sometimes, just sometimes you get to tick something off your "bucket list". This was one of those times with 3 days of listening to, talking with and being taught by one of the world's greatest animal trainers, Mr Robert E. Bailey. Bob describes himself as "a behavioral-systems analyst and engineer, small-businessman, field biologist, animal trainer, and teacher, not necessarily in that order." A more kind, funny and generous man would be difficult to find. "The Fundamentals of Animal Training" DVD was like a bolt of lightning and this weekend was exactly the push we needed. A working spot was a dream come true so special thanks to Em, a fabulous little dog who's enthusiasm, trust, motivation and most of all her ability to figure stuff out DESPITE my training, never ceases to amaze me. And not only did I join Bob for dinner but he signed my copy of his DVD and I have countless hours of video to review. I felt like a total groupie!



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  • 2nd April 2017: From little things...big things grow! Huge congratulations to Jo and Murphy (Thornfield Embargo), son of Em and brother to Ginny, who today passed his Odour Recognition Test - Anise in fine style. Although it's not a timed event, Murph decided that faster is more FUN and smashed it out in less than 3.5 seconds. Wow! It takes me longer than that to recognise the smell of coffee! Thank you Jo for your commitment to, training of and love for Murphy. He's a cracker and an absolute credit to you.


  • 1st April 2017: The sun came out for the Border Collie Club's Open Agility Trial, Em had a 1st place in Masters Jumping and a 2nd place in Novice Gamblers. All the focus forward jump training really paid off with not even a hint of a head check on the Gamble. Ziggy had great fun but not luck in Excellent Gamblers with a difficult see-saw as part of the distance challenge. Ginny had a super day playing with puppies and took great delight in teaching the Border Collie babies how to play like a Spaniel! We finished the day with a sprint around the dam for Ziggy and a bitterly cold swim for Em and Ginny. 

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  • 24th March 2017: Who needs "Take Your Dog to Work Day" when it's part of your job description! Today Sally and Em ran tutorials for 3rd years students studying Applied Animal Behaviour at the University of Melbourne. It was a fabulous opportunity to demonstrate how to apply the scientific principles of animal learning to training a solid shaped retrieve...epitomised by Em's "Tissue Trick".


  • 11th and 12th March 2017: Never a dull moment at Thornfield, this weekend Sally, Em and Ginny travelled to Whanregarwen, North East of Melbourne, for the Victorian Gundog Club's Retrieving Trial. Sally was Trial Manager, Em was competing in All Age (with a little help from Sally) and Ginny came along for some training and socialisation. It was an extremely busy but successful few days for the club and we are now planning our next retrieving trial in July.


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  • 3rd March 2017: Well, it's official! Sally nominated for DOGS Victoria Management Committee back in December 2016 and, as one of the first three candidates elected, will serve a four year term on the Committee effective 24th May 2017 (DOGS Victoria AGM). It's quite an honour and is not a role that will be taken lightly.


  • 27th February 2017: It's weave training central at Thornfield right now! Em is having fun with a Weaves & Skillz Class at Awesome Paws and young Ginny is learning how to weave right from the beginning using Susan Garrett's 2 x 2 method. This video is simply a great reminder of WHY we video in the first place - it's really the only way to review your mechanics and ensuring you are rewarding the behaviour you are trying to teach or improve. Note that one of the things I was working on was "running off" on Em as that's when she was popping out of weave pole 10.

Training the Helper! from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 24th February 2017: Thornfield were delighted to welcome Dr Jaime Jackson from Primal Paws into our home for a thorough evaluation of Ziggy, Em and Ginny. Dr Jaime is a veterinarian who not only competes in various dog sports but specialises in canine conditioning and rehabilitation. It was Dr Jaime's first real examination of a field-bred ESS and it was fascinating to hear her compare them with other breeds. Dr Jaime was impressed with the fitness of our dogs and declared that they were, medically at least, "very unexciting" which means that we are on the right track with our fitness and conditioning programs. Nevertheless she gave us a set of exercises for us to work on with each dog to improve strength, flexibilty and reduce the risk of injuries.


  • 11th February 2017: First agility competition of the year and K9 Agility Club did it in style with a fun twilight trial, well organised and great weather. Ziggy loved his one and only Open Jumping run - you can hear all the H360 verbals plus a few new ones added for emergency situations hahaha...SCT 44, 33.07, Q, 5th place from 54 entries.

Ziggy @ K9 Twilight Agilty Trial from Sally H. on Vimeo.



  • 21st January 2017: This time it was Emmy's turn! Katie and Geraldine Kisielnicki from Awesome Paws donated their time and energy towards a Wing Jump Fundraiser Workshop with all proceeds going towards 10 Jahzzy Agility jumps as part of DOGS Victoria equipment! There was so much money raised that a new tyre and wingless jump were also purchased whilst Susan Mahoney donated a set of numbers. WOW! And to top it all off it was an awesome day, perfect weather and we had a BALL!

Emmy's Turn! Awesome Paws Workshop January 2017. from Sally H. on Vimeo.



  • 14th January 2017: Way to start the New Year with a bang! So proud of our lovely Ginny, daughter of Em, who at 20 months threw herself into Awesome Paws Pre-Novice Workshop with her usual enthuasiasm. Ongoing handler injuries have slowed our training down quite dramatically but we are now getting a glimpse of just how much fun she is going to be run in agility!

Ginny's growing up! from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 25th December 2016: MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ALL OF US AT THORNFIELD! We were delighted to welcome Em's first born, Murphy (Thornfield Embargo), for Christmas as his family was away. His owner has put in so much training and has really brought out his potential. And such a lovely house dog to boot! We will miss him when he goes home but will continue to catch up for training sessions.


(From L to R: Ginny, Murphy, Ziggy and Em)


  • 2nd-5th December 2016: Wow! How lucky were we getting to spend 3 days in Brisbane with the one and only Susan Garrett! It started with a seminar on the Friday night, auditing the Advanced Workshops on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings and working Em in the Skills Building Workshops on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. It was extremely hot and humid all weekend and we were completely washed out by a spectacular thunderstorm on Saturday afternoon. Susan made the best of it by doing a Facebook live session with H360 Agility members around the world and then putting together a presentation for an impromptu gathering in the safety of the organiser's home. Sunday afternoon was a little more kind (although still very hot) and Em and I had a fabulous session - I thought Susan looked pretty good with a Spaniel! 

SG QLD 2016 from Sally H. on Vimeo.



  • 19th/20th November 2016: A warm weekend of agilty but Em and Zig excelled themselves once again - Em had four quallies from eight runs - including 2 x 1st places, 1 x 2nd place and 1 x 3rd place - whilst Ziggy came 3rd in Open Agility and 7th in Excellent Gamblers. There were some near misses due to handler error so all in all we were really pleased!



  • 8th November 2016: HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY to our handsome, crazy, funny, sun loving, cat adoring, lover of the ladies Spotty Dog! As Jane and Neil Hurst said as they put you on the plane all those years ago, you're a cracking lad. What a wonderful journey you have taken us on Ziggy - AG CH 600 Yarrowfell High Society CD ADM ADO JDM JDO2 GD SD ET.



  • 29th/30th October 2016: We had four seasons in one weekend at Warrnambool Dog Training School's Agility trial. Just as well handler injuries made it impossible for us to camp as we usually do! It was lovely to be out of the howling wind, rain and hail when it hit. Although Sunday afternoon was washed out completely Em and Zig had some lovely runs throughout the remainder of the trial...Em had a 1st place in Master Jumping D (400 height) and a 1st place in Excellent Agility C (400 height) whilst Zig had a creditable 4th place and 6th place in Open Jumping and Open Agility, respectively. Thank you to the Warnambool Camera Club for these fabulous photos!



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  • 2nd October 2016: Huge congratulations to Jo and Murphy (Thornfield Embargo) who made the big road trip to Sydney for only the 2nd ever Australian Canine Scent Work trial this weekend. Jo and Murphy competed in Nose Work 1, which is comprised of four elements: container search, interior building search, exterior area search and vehicle search. They not only placed 3rd in the container search but also 2nd in the exterior area search and THIRD PLACE OVERALL! What an amazing effort! So proud of you two and will be raising our glasses to you tonight at The House of Thornfield. Thank you Jo for channeling the Spaniel intensity of Em's first-born into something constructive!



  • 11th September 2016: The Agility Dog Club of Victoria turned on a little sunshine (at last!) for their "Bare Bones" (pass cards only, no sashes or prizes) agility trial and Em turned on a little action to go with it...a 1st place and 2nd place in Masters Jumping (400) and a 7th place in Excellent Snooker. Way to go Em!


  • 5th September 2016: We LOVE this video of Ginny's sire, Banjo, doing what he does best! Apparently a film crew were getting footage for an advertisement and the dog selected for the role wouldn't perform as required. They noticed Banjo launching himself into the water a little further down the beach - just out for his daily stroll - and asked his owner if he could star in the ad instead! Talk about an incredible Spaniel!


  • 3rd September 2016: It was Ziggy's turn to shine at Dogs Victoria's State Agility Trial! 3rd place in Open Agility from 41 entries! Thanks to Handling 360, Zig nailed a threadle into the tunnel despite being way ahead and was all over the distance challenge despite it being on the same side as Sally's cut hand and frozen shoulder. All he needs to do is learn to read the numbers!



  • 27th August 2016: Even 10 stitches in her hand (thanks to slipping onto a steel star picket!) couldn't keep Sally from enjoying Hastings & Districts Obedience Dog Club's agility trial. And it was certainly worth the trouble with Em getting a lovely Novice Agility pass and 1st place to finish off her title. Pending Dogs Victoria approval, she will be now known as Wrangham Cathy Earnshaw RRD AD JDM SD.

Em - AD Title from Sally H. on Vimeo.


  • 7th August 2016: Thank you to the newly formed Gippsland Retrieving Club who held a training day for members and also put on a delicious BBQ lunch. It was teriffic to see experienced handlers helping the less experienced. Sally travelled down with all three dogs who had a great day out. Ginny had a particularly good training session with hand thrown dummies really stretching her marking and hunting skills. She enjoyed several water retrieves and finished the day with a confidence building over water mark. Em's lack of training (due to handler injury) was evident in the All Age mock trial but we made the most of the training opportunity by working through a tight double blind/mark with one of the blinds retrieves over very "cheaty" water.




  • 20th July 2016: Interested in an online retriever course using positive reinforcement based training? Complete our survey and tell us what you are looking for!

  • 3rd July 2016: Congratulations to Jo and Murphy (Thornfield Embargo) for passing the Odour Recognition Test (ORT) at the first Australian Canine Scent Work ORT to be held in Victoria. A great achievement at only 15 months of age, Jo also passed the ORT with her older dog, Timber. Well done Jo!





  • 13th June 2016: Em (Wrangham Cathy Earnshaw RRD JDM SD) and Ziggy (AG CH 600 Yarrowfell High Society CD ADM ADO JDM JDO2 GD SD ET) had a very successful day at Gippsland Obedience Dog Club's agility trial. Em had a 1st place Q (400 height with 2nd place overall) in Novice Agility and Zig and Em placed 5th and 6th, respectively, in an Open Jumping run with a tough distance challenge.



  • 29th May 2016: Em (Wrangham Cathy Earnshaw RRD JDM SD) won her final at the Agility Nationals in South Australia to be crowned Novice Agility 400 National Champion. Em finished the week with 4 pass cards from 5 runs including 2 x 2nd places that qualified her for the Novice Agility 400 final and quallies in Masters Jumping (6th place, 32 dogs) and Excellent Snooker (13th place, 60 dogs). Ziggy (Yarrowfell High Society CD ADM ADO JDM JDO2 GD SD ET) at nine and a half years of age competed at his last Nationals with some great results: on the first day he nailed a Masters Jumping 600 course for 7th place (37 dogs) and followed that up with a 9th place in Excellent Snooker (60 dogs). We then enjoyed a week's holiday with one of our puppy buyers....with 5 Springers and 1 Dalmatian in the house there was a lot of dog training and dog walking to be done!




  • ​14th May 2016: After a 6 month break from trialling (due to handler injury) Em (Wrangham Cathy Earnshaw RRD JDM SD) took care of business at Frankston Obedience Dog Club's inaugural agility and jumping trial with two first places (one Q and one NQ with a knocked bar) and great tug toys as prizes. A lovely day to catch up with old friends, socialise young Ginny ringside and stretch Zig's legs too.







  • 30th April 2016: We are so fortunate in Melbourne to have access to some great trainers. Ginny had a great day out at Awesome Paws Agility Foundation workshop - a special combination of body awareness exercises, jump grids, tunnel and contacts games especially for the up and coming youngsters...

Awesome Paws Workshop from Sally H. on Vimeo.


© Thornfield English Springer Spaniels 2018