Monday, March 24, 2008

Disciplined Casting, De-Cheating for High Grass, Diversion Drill, SBLB Drill

This morning, we trained at our permanent double-T drill course at Fair Hill first, then moved to another home site across the lane for some work with high grass. In the afternoon, we went to Sundown Park for Laddie's diversion drill and Lumi's short-bird-long-bird drill. The series were as follows:
  • Series A. Disciplined casting (DC) on the double-T course (Laddie only)
  • Series B. Three short blinds requiring entries to high cover (both dogs)
  • Series C. De-cheating drill on high cover (both dogs)
  • Series D. Diversion drill (DD), throw-toward-line (TTL), right to left (Laddie only)
  • Series E. Short-bird-long-bird (SBLB) drill (Lumi only)
Series A. Although Laddie showed good progress on DC yesterday, I felt he still could use more practice with it on our double-T course. Using the full 110-yard backline the entire time, Laddie ran the following series without difficulty:
  1. Thru to P2, WS-on-return (WSOR) with no thrown bird at P, DC over to P1, WSOR (thrown bird, delivery, send to bird)
  2. Thru to P2, WSOR (no bird) in front of Q, angle back to Q3, WSOR (bird)
  3. WS at P, over to P1 (pick-up), WSOR near Q, DC over to Q1, WSOR (bird)
  4. Thru to P2, WSOR (no bird) at P, angle-in right (throw not seen), WSOR (2 birds thrown during the stop)
  5. Thru to P2, no stop on return, poorman single with bird
Site with High Grass. Both dogs have seen high grass at group training (various sites), and private training at Cheltenham, many times since last spring, but today I discovered a home site in the Fair Hill new home construction area with similar terrain to those locations. The site is covered in dry, clumpy, ankle-high grass but also includes several large patches of waist-high grass. Other areas of the site are too overgrown with prickly vegetation. The site is roughly 150 yards square, but because of the overgrown patches, I haven't been able to isolate too many usable lines suitable for running the dogs. The site does, however, seem to have ample opportunity for short drills thru high grass.

Series B. Because both dogs have fairly extensive experience running marks thru strips of tall grass, I did not expect the grass to be a problem. My goal was to work on Lumi's apparent confusion yesterday at being cast to an obscured dummy with no lining pole, and to use the same course as an easy triple blind for Laddie now that he has completed, or at least nearly completed, his work on the double-T.

The course I set up was:
  1. 40 yards to orange dummy behind a patch of high grass, no lining pole
  2. 50 yards thru a large patch of high grass to an orange dummy and orange lining pole
  3. 60 yards to an orange dummy in a small patch of high grass, no lining pole
Lumi running first had no slipped whistles and took all casts into open ground, but to my surprise was confused by the large patch of high grass on #2 and avoided casts into it. She would turn toward the edge of the grass, take a step, then turn to try to go around it. I moved close until at last I was close enough for her to take the cast, but there were several refusals before I got close enough.

Laddie slipped one whistle, stopped on the quick second whistle. He stopped the first time on all other WSs. Like Lumi, he attempted to cheat around the high cover on #2, but soon took the cast more easily than Lumi.

Series C. Once I realized that both dogs were tending to cheat around high grass, I ran both of them on a first, simple de-cheating drill:
  1. With the dog in a sit facing me, I threw an orange dummy left-to-right 10 yards over a strip of high grass to the dog's right side. Leaving the dog in a sit, I backed away ten yards (actually, I turned my back and walked forward 10 yards, then turned back to face the dog), then cast the dog with "over" to the dummy.
  2. Same as #1, except that the throw was right-to-left over the strip of high grass and I backed away 25 yards.
  3. Same as #2, except that the throw was again left-to-right and I backed away 50 yards.
Laddie had no problem with this drill. Lumi was reluctant to enter the tall grass on #1 and #3, but took the cast the second time on each one. She had no problem with #2.

When the weather warms up, we plan to start some de-cheating drills with water. Since it's still too cold for that, this seems like a convenient time to do similar kinds of drills with high grass. Some of the things I think we should work on:
  • More work with "over" at greater distances, including casting "over" after sending out from heel
  • Lining from heel thru high grass
  • Angle back into high grass
  • Angle in into high grass
  • DC over thru high grass after send-out and pick-up
  • DC angle-in thru high grass after send-out and pick-up
Series D. Continuing with the diversion drill sequence recommended by Alice, today Nate threw toward the line (TTL) right to left. Laddie's performance was joyous and accurate, on both the marks and the send-outs to the pile.

Series E. Today we tried the short-bird-long-bird drill recommended by Alice. With three throwing stations only slightly offset from one another, Nate threw three birds:
  1. 40 yards, right to left
  2. 100 yards, left to right
  3. 160 yards, right to left
During the entire time, a stickman and a chair remained at the station for #1. After Lumi retrieved #1, she and I went to play in a nearby wood while Nate walked to the station for #2, then called "ready" when he arrived. After Lumi retrieved #2, she and I again went away to play while Nate walked to the station for #3.

Although Lumi has shown some difficulty in picking out the long gun at group training, she had no difficulty picking out Nate for any of these marks. As soon as we came to the line each time, she immediately fixed her focus on Nate, and never took her eyes off the fall until sent. She didn't seem at all distracted by the gear at #1 when Nate was throwing #2 and #3. She pinned every mark, and raced back with every bird.

It was good to see Lumi's exuberance, since she has seemed comparatively down in our handling work.

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