Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inline Triples

Muncaster Mill Farm

Now that our competition is completed for the season, I don't expect Laddie to be in another event until next spring. At that time, I hope to run him in both Master Hunt Tests and Field Trial Qualifying Stakes. Since the latter are more challenging in most respects, we'll probably train predominantly on that sort of set-up. In addition, with overnight temps now in the 30s and daytime highs generally reaching only the 50s, we will probably do little if any water training between now and spring.

For this morning's session, we drove to the huge farm I discovered a few days ago off Muncaster Mill Road, behind Macgruder High School.

There, Laddie ran four inline triples. They were in four different locations in the complex of hay fields, but had a lot in common:
  • All were relatively long, varying from 200+ yards to 400+ yards for the longest memory-bird. The first series was the longest, the last series the shortest.
  • In each case, the three throwing stations were two BBs and an RL/WB, with the RL used for the short go-bird at distances of 100-120 yards.
  • A stickman was used at every throwing station of every mark.
  • The three stations were spaced fairly evenly and in a line, the spacing varying depending on the overall size of the set-up.
  • The throws were in line with the stations, and were all in the same direction. In some cases, they were all in the direction of the longest station toward the shortest station, while in other cases, they were all in the direction of shortest station toward the longest station.
  • Though an event could feature the inline triple on a vertical or horizontal line relative to the start line, none of today's triples were either vertical or horizontal. Instead, they all ran on a diagonal, extending outward either toward the left or the right.
  • In all cases, the marks were thrown longest first, shortest last, and in all cases I ran Laddie on them in the reverse sequence of the throws.
  • In most cases, I used geometric relations of the many hay bales to establish visual patterns in our set-ups. For example, for the fourth series, from the SL it appeared that the stickman for the longest gun was standing at a particular corner of two nearby hay bales, and the middle gun was standing at the same corner of two other nearby hay bales. My purpose was to challenge Laddie to remember the differences in pictures that were largely similar.
  • The first three set-ups also featured a blind (OB) that was longer than the longest gun and that was run after the triple. All three of the blinds were on a line that ran relatively close behind one of the guns, sometimes inside the boundary of the three marks and sometimes just outside. All three of the blinds also featured at least one narrow keyhole, either horizontal or diagonal, as well as other factors such as hills, an angle entry to high cover, or muddy terrain. Since Laddie had performed well every time I had handled him on the first three series, and had done a lot of running by the time we got to the fourth series, I didn't run him on a blind for that one.
In every series, Laddie nailed two of the marks — the short go-bird and one of the longer memory-birds — and required a hunt on one of the memory-birds. For the first two series, his hunt began to extend too far from the area of the fall and I transferred to handling him. For the third, he suddenly spotted the blind while hunting for the long mark and picked up the blind instead, then required handling when I sent him out again for the long mark. For the last series, he required a hunt on the longest mark but did not require handling.

Pros and Cons

I am not yet certain whether Laddie is benefitting from practicing inline triples. It's important that Laddie do well if he ever gets an inline triple in competition, and to me that suggests that we should practice more of them, perhaps reducing the size of the set-ups for awhile, perhaps avoiding the hay bales for awhile, until he is able to be more successful with them.

On the other hand, if Laddie doesn't begin nailing all three marks soon, especially when the three gun stations are all marked with a stickman, to say nothing of future training when one or more of the guns is retired, it's possible we should stop working on this kind of set-up to avoid damaging Laddie's confidence on this picture.

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