Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reverse Hip-pocket Doubles

Newcut Road, Clarksburg

I took Lumi and Laddie for a ride in the van to look for a good field for working on reverse hip-pocket doubles with Laddie. I wanted Field Trial distances, and I didn't want a flat sports field.

I decided to use a strategy I've used before: exploring new housing developments. I've had pretty good luck in the past finding good training areas that way. Today, I followed some new-development signs onto a twisting, almost invisible exit off Frederick Road and onto something called Newcut Road, and found several large fields that seemed good for training. Unfortunately, they don't have any ponds. Also, the fields seem to have been planted in various crops in the past, and I'm not sure how much discomfort they may cause dogs' feet when running in them. I would have preferred softer footing.

However, the fields have hills, variable cover, and distinctive backdrops for the dog to take note of when lining, so I think they'll be good for practices like today's.

The Reverse Hip-pocket Double

The reverse hip-pocket double (RHPD), also known as "off the heels", consists of two marks thrown the same direction, where the line to the longer mark runs just behind the thrower of the shorter mark.

I had planned to add some extra challenges to the RHPD in today's practice, such as having the marks thrown and retrieved out of order, or having them thrown and then having the dog run a blind before picking up the marks (an "interrupted" double).

However, I recalled that Laddie has had difficulty with the RHPD when we've run it using BBs on fields like the one we were using today, though he has no trouble with RHPDs on a flat field. Using BBs in variable cover has an effect similar to retiring the gun, and I knew that that also presented problems for Laddie.

So I decided not to use an unusual version of the RHPD, other than the fact that I used a stickman at the short BB but no marker at the long BB. In a way, this is even more difficult than a retired gun, because the long gun isn't visible even when the dog is watching the marks thrown. The dog has only the arc of the throw to gauge his run to the memory-bird.

SERIES A-E. Reverse hip-pocket doubles

Series A thru E were five RHPD set-ups, alternating direction with right-to-left throws for Series A, left-to-right throws for Series B, and so forth. I also moved the SL and orientation within the field from series to series. The long throws were in the range of 150-200 yards. The short throws were in the range 70-100 yards. I used a BB for both gun stations, with a stickman at the short BB in each set-up.

Series A thru C, the first three, also included a blind. For Series A, the blind was beyond the long mark, with the line to the mark running behind the long gun. For Series B, the blind was 180 yards, to the left of the left gun station, and thru a keyhole formed by hay bales. For Series C, the blind was beyond the long mark, and under the arc of the long mark.

Laddie pinned all the short marks (go-birds), and did a nice job running all the blinds.

As for the long marks, Laddie seemed to go thru a process of gradually learning how to get his bearings on the long marks, perhaps using a combination of the backdrop as well as the position of the stickman he needed to run "behind". For Series A, he took a line too wide off the stickman, hunted without success, and finally needed to be handled. For Series B, he took a line too close to the stickman and again needed a long hunt, though this time he didn't need to be handled. For Series C, he took a good line past the stickman but veered to the BB when he saw it, and then needed a short hunt the other way to find the bumper. For Series D, he took a good line past the stickman and nailed the long mark. For Series E, he took a good line past the stickman but veered a little afterwards and needed a short hunt.

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