Saturday, March 20, 2010

Training with field trial group


With morning temps in the 70s, the weather seems to have gone straight from winter to summer this year, leaving spring out entirely.

For today's session, we ran a single triple, which one of the trainers characterized as an "all-age triple", as opposed to an easier "qualifying triple".

The triple run by advanced dogs was 280-220-170 yards from right to left, with difficult cheating opportunities on the outer marks and a deceptively difficult center mark.

I felt all the marks were too physically arduous for Lumi, and ran her on some water marks in a different part of the property when we had some spare time.

I felt that Laddie would require significant handling for the cheating situations, and even then I might not be able to keep him from running the banks, and if circumstances had been different, that might have been my primary focus.

But I wasn't at all concerned with cheating. Instead, my focus was on Laddie's returns. All three marks required the dog to come back on different lines over the same channel, and if the dog marooned on the far side, the handler would be unable to reach dog without a half-mile drive around the outer edge of the property. In addition, the throwers were all 100 yards or more from the channel, so it would be a major imposition for me to ask one of them to take the bird away from Laddie if he did stall.

In the past, Laddie has often marooned on far easier marks, so it was not easy making the decision to run him on this setup. But after a few of the dogs had run, I decided to run Laddie as well. I had him run the 280-yard on the right as a single, letting the throwers know that I would decide what to do next after I saw how he did on that one.

The single he ran to the right included a swim across the channel and then a run thru wetland with standing water. On the return, Laddie put the bird down to relieve himself 120 yards out, which I was unhappy about because a wounded bird ("cripple") could get away in that situation. When he was finished, I blew CIW and he started toward me without the bird. I called "Fetch" and he raced back, picked up the bird, and brought it across the channel to me.

While the return overall was unsatisfactory, it gave me confidence that Laddie could handle the returns across the channel, so I called for a double on the 220-yard center mark and the 170-yard mark on the left.

Laddie cheated on the difficult channel swim on the second half of the go-bird on the left, but I decided not to break his momentum by handling him. He hesitated slightly on the return across the channel, but quickly responded when I called "Here".

Then he ran the memory bird, which included not only the channel crossing but also a ditch crossing 200 yards out. I was pleased to see that when Laddie picked up that bird, he came back over both the ditch and the channel without hesitation.

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