Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hunt Test Training, Diversion Drill, Marks

This morning, we trained with Bob Hux and others at Cheltenham in the morning (Series A and B), then went out with Nate for additional training at Fair Hill Area 1 in the afternoon (Series C and D). Summary:
  • Series A. Group land series, but with a large pool of standing water that effectively made this a land/water series (both dogs)
  • Series B. Group water series (both dogs)
  • Series C. Laddie's final diversion drill session, a combination picture with the marks thrown right to left (Laddie only)
  • Series D. Three land retrieves at Hunt Test distances (both dogs)
Series A.

Series B.

Series C. This was Laddie's final diversion drill session. The course was set up as follows:
  • Three lining poles were placed 80 yards from the SL, at 30° angles from one another, acting as sight-blinds. Two white dummies were placed at the foot of each pole. Ideally, the dummies would have been visible to the dog from the SL, but we were working in knee-high grass so only the lining pole was visible until Laddie was right at the pole.
  • Nate, with his chair, pistol, and three birds (one each duck, pigeon, pheasant), were positioned 60 yards from the SL and midway between the lines to the center and right poles. Each of his throws was right-to-left to the same fall, midway between the lines to the left and center poles.
Laddie was run on the course in the following sequence:
  1. Left sight-blind
  2. Right sight-blind
  3. Center sight-blind
  4. Thrown mark
  5. Left sight-blind
  6. Thrown mark
  7. Right sight-blind
  8. Thrown mark
  9. Center sight-blind
Laddie ran excellent marks, and lined sight-blinds #1, #5, and #7. Laddie went offline on #2, #3, and #9, but had excellent responsiveness to all WSs and casts.

Although I was pleased by Laddie's performance and the fact that we are now ready to move on to marks-and-blinds, including those Laddie will run in group training and events, I was most pleased by the fact that Laddie did not drop a single article during the drill. Given the mixture of articles and the challenging terrain, this was a nice demonstration of Laddie's success in overcoming that flaw.

Series D. Although I generally want to be stretching Laddie's now excellent retrieves out to longer distances, Lumi will be running in a Hunt Test next Saturday, so this week I'm focusing on shorter distances. I could have had the dogs run separate courses, but I think a few more easy sessions for Laddie won't hurt. Here's the set-up I used for this series:
  1. 60-yard mark (duck), position marked with a chair
  2. 80-yard mark (duck), position marked with a stickman
  3. 120-yard mark (duck), position marked with a stickman
#2 was 30° to the right of #1. #3 was 30° to the right of #2.


For Lumi, I had the throws angled in, to prepare Lumi for the possibility that she will tend to overrun the marks in the test because of elevated excitement level. I gave Lumi a bite of food after #1, had her pick up bird ("get your bird") after #3 for the walk to the van.

Lumi showed good motivation during the session, and had excellent pick ups, the area we've recently been focusing her retrieve shaping on.


For Laddie, the falls were the same distance from the SL as the thrower, as in our usual training.

Laddie's performance was over-the-top exuberant as is normal for him, and most importantly, he didn't drop any of the birds. I had a carrier of clippies near the SL, and after #3, I tossed a clippie for him to retrieve and we ran around together for a few moments with him carrying it in his mouth.

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