Sunday, March 22, 2009

Diverging Skills, Diverging Marks

[Note: Once again, I've fallen way behind in updating this blog with our daily training. Since my last update, we've trained with fliers several times to work on steadiness marking and honoring, in preparation for possible entries into Senior-level Hunt Tests this spring. I hope to type up my notes from those training sessions soon, so that they will appear in this blog in the correct sequence. When I do, I'll add a note to the blog entry at the top of the listing as notification that the others have also been entered. For now, here's today's short morning session.]

AM: Oaks Area 2

SERIES A. Land double with double land blind (Lumi only)

I used RLs and ducks for the land double, ODs for the blinds. The first mark of the double was on the left at 140 yards, thrown right to left. The second mark was on the right at 40 yards, thrown left to right , making the marks divergent. As usual, I sent Lumi to the short and most recent mark (that is, the go-bird) first, then to the long memory-bird. After Lumi picked up both birds, I sent her to a blind at 90 yards on the right, under the arc of the go-bird. Finally I sent her to a blind at 170 yards on a line 45° to the left of the left mark.

Although I attempted to introduce some difficulty factors, none of today's retrieves seemed to present any significant challenge for Lumi. The factors were as follows:
  • The line to the go-bird was thru a muddy patch with especially uneven footing, and the duck was under the branches of a deciduous tree.
  • The line to the memory-bird was inside a backdrop of a hedgerow that ended further to the left, with an open area and hill crest beyond that on the left that we've used in the past for marks and blinds, possibly creating some suction to run too deep and too far left.
  • The two marks were divergent.
  • The line to the 90-yard blind was among several trees and under the arc of the go-bird throw.
  • The 90-yard blind was placed in a depression in the ground surface, making it invisible until the dog was close.
  • The line to the 170-yard blind was thru a keyhole formed by two trees in a line of deciduous trees that has usually been our border for training on this field. For the 170-yard blind, Lumi had to go thru that line of trees to reach a line of conifers further back, where the blind was planted.
Lumi had good pick-ups of the birds today, not her best ever but nonetheless high quality, and required no extra cueing beyond my usual CIW blown just as she was reaching for each article.

SERIES B. Blind with poison bird, land double delayed with a second blind (Laddie only)

I used the identical placements of articles for Series B as for Series A. But for Lumi in Series A, I used no poison birds (PBs) or delayed marks because I feel that using such factors earlier this month led to some decline in skills that she will need for her upcoming Senior tests. I wouldn't expect those sorts of challenges in a Senior test, so Lumi doesn't need the ability to deal with them at this time.

For Laddie in Series B, I took advantage of his more advanced skills to run the set-up in what I thought would be a more challenging sequence:

After setting up the RLs and laying out the ducks twenty feet away, I took Laddie out of the van and began by running him on the 90-yard blind to the right. In addition to factors mentioned under Series A for Lumi, this meant that Laddie also needed to run between the RL on his left and the duck on his right at 40 yards, in a channel 20 yards wide, to get to the OD in the depression at 90 yards. Next I launched the 140-yard RL on the left and then the 40-yard RL on the right. After both streamers had been launched, but before the birds were picked up, I sent Laddie to the 170-yard blind on the left (making this a "delayed" double). Next, instead of sending him to the most recent mark, I sent him to the 140-yard mark. Finally I sent him to the 40-yard mark.

Series B was intended to provide additional difficulty factors to those already mentioned for Series A:
  • Running the 90-yard blind on a line that passed 10 yards from a pre-positioned duck.
  • Running the 170-yard blind after the double had been launched but before the birds had been picked up.
  • Running the long, first mark before the short, more recent second mark.
As with Lumi, Laddie seemed to have no difficulty with any of today's retrieves. Good (not great) pick-ups, no drops on any of the returns, excellent deliveries. The reason for the less than great pick-ups was probably because we were using a kind of duck that Laddie has not seen much before and has not liked when we did use it. Had we been using Mallards, I suspect Laddie would have shown the high-drive pick-ups he usually exhibits.

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