Sunday, January 10, 2010

Practice with Field Trial Group


After a hiatus of several months, the dogs and I once again trained with Charlie and Milly, the owners of the property where we often train in Cheltenham, MD. Besides Charlie and Milly, some other trainers we've trained with in the past were also there.

Before the others arrived, I ran each dog on a triple blind, 90-140-190 yards. Laddie had an easy time with all of them. Lumi did well on the first two but went OOC on the long one, apparently becoming distracted by the nearby icy water and a decoy, or perhaps a live bird. By that time others had begun to arrive, so I walked halfway out and handled Lumi from that distance to the blind.

With temps in the high teens and gusty wind, and with ice covering most of the ponds and channels, water training was out of the question, so the group ran two land series, each with a duck flyer in the center and two longer retrieves with previously shot ducks to either side. Both of the set-ups were tight, and keeping the dogs attention on the throws to the flanks, with the flyer station in the center, proved to be a challenge for most of the teams. I was the only person who honored his dogs, and I did so with the dogs on lead just in case, though neither came close to breaking while honoring.

I think we had a total of nine dogs. One trainer had both of his dogs run the first series as a triple, and ran his younger dog on the second series as a triple while resting his older dog. Aside from that, every other dog ran both series as singles with one other exception: for the second series, I had Laddie run a double with the flyer and the shorter station, then a single with the long bird, and I had Lumi run just the double to preserve her soundness.

Another modification I made was to move up our SL on all the retrieves except the flyer on the first series. The retrieves were still long by HT standards, and Laddie's long single was still over 200 yards.

But my focus was not primarily on challenging Lumi and Laddie. My main concern was that my dogs would make high quality pick-ups and returns, and I felt the original SLs made that somewhat riskier.

As it turned out, Laddie's pickups were all excellent and the only problem with his returns was his stopping to mark. Lumi was slow on picking up the two flyers, spending some alone time with them first, but her pickups on the dead birds were fine and all her returns were solid, if slower in the second series than the first.

I was pleased with our return to training with the group.

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