Friday, April 24, 2009

Water Marks, Steadiness Practice

Mt. Ararat Farm

SERIES A. Two water singles (Lumi, then Laddie)

Series A was intended as a pair of easy water marks, intended to give both of my dogs an opportunity to perform land-water-land retrieves. Both performed poorly. Lumi required considerable verbal cueing to re-enter the pond after picking up each bird. Laddie dropped a chukar at water's edge, had it sink, and then spent the next several minutes trying to retrieve it from underwater. He never did recover it. Perhaps he learned a valuable lesson from the experience. That would be nice.

SERIES B. Water single (Lumi, then Laddie)

Series B was an LWLWL. Both of my dogs made good swims to the mid-point peninsula, both then ran around the second pool of water. In each case, I called for Gaby, who was throwing for us, to pick up the bird, then handled the dog back out onto the peninsula and asked Gaby to put the bird back down. I was then able to cast each dog back over the second pool. After each retrieve, the dog then again ran around that pool, back out onto the peninsula, and then accepted a come-in cue to swim the rest of the way in. No problem with entering the water in this case.

SERIES C. Two land singles and blind, plus honor (Lumi, then Laddie)

Series C, in a different location of the farm near a riding ring, was designed to exercise each dog's steadiness with fliers for both running and honoring. In addition, the 100-yard blind acted as a mild Downwind Drill, since the wind blew from the blind toward the start line. I say mild because we used ODs for the blind rather than birds.

The two singles consisted of a duck thrown left to right from inside a section of woods at 80 yards, and a flier thrown left to right at 30 yards on a line between the 80-yard mark and the blind.

After running both marks and the blind, the dog honored the next dog. In each case, the next dog ran the series as a double and a blind, which benefited my dogs because honoring a double with a flier as the go-bird is more exciting, hence more challenging, than honoring a single flier.

As a precaution against my dogs self-reinforcing on a break, I held each dog's tab for both the flier mark and the honor, but both dogs were rock steady. The disadvantage of that approach is that it's possible their steadiness would decline if they haven't practiced running without collars, as in competition, but for now, based on long-standing guidance from Jody Baker, I'm continuing to use the tabs.

For Series C, I also used a handler's gun (an imitation shotgun) that Gaby brought out. My primary intent was to help Lumi with her head-swinging, but I think it's also good for me as a handler to practice with it, since Senior Hunt Tests often call for the handler to carry a handler's gun.

No comments:

[Note that entries are displayed from newest to oldest.]