Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Field Trial and Hunt Test Group Training

Port Deposit, Maryland

Today, Laddie and I drove to Gaby's area for training. Our initial plans were to train with Patty's Field Trial group. After running two series with them, we then went over to Gaby's place and had the opportunity to run a series with a Hunt Test group that was training there. Finally, we ran several series with Gaby and her yellow Lab, Buster, who are preparing for both Master and Senior Hunt Tests this weekend.

As is customary in group training, each trainer ran the set-ups in particular ways, not necessarily the way other dogs in the group ran the same set-up. For example, in today's Series A, the most advanced dogs ran the set-up as an indent triple with the short gun thrown second rather than last, and retired while the dog was running the longer go-bird. Meanwhile, most of the younger dogs ran the same set-up as a delayed triple. I decided that my primary goal was building Laddie's confidence, so I had him run the same set-up as singles.

Similar variations occurred on all the set-ups, Laddie sometimes running the easiest version of the set-up, sometimes the hardest, and sometimes somewhere in the middle.

SERIES A. Three land singles

These singles were on hilly terrain, a combination of hay fields and cut corn fields. The throws were a mixture of two ducks and one black bumper, which was for the shortest throw. The distances were 110, 170, and 280 yards. [Note: Today's recorded distances are especially rough estimates, because I didn't have an opportunity to walk them off and also because I didn't think much about the distances till later, relying on memory rather than estimating while looking at the actual set-up.]

Laddie nailed every mark.

SERIES B. Land triple

This series was at a different location on the same field as Series A, with the same sort of terrain. Some of the dog ran this series with the long mark retired, but Laddie ran it as a "stay-out triple". The first mark (duck) was in the center, thrown right to left at 320 yards. The second mark (duck) was on the left, thrown right to left on an angle back at 110 yards. The third mark (WB) was on the right, thrown right to left at 140 yards.

Laddie again nailed every mark, but unlike his performance in Series A, he had two flaws in his performance in Series B. First, he popped briefly at 150 yards while running the long mark as his final memory-bird. As usual when he pops, I froze, and after a moment he spun around and completed the mark. Second, he stopped and put the bird on the ground 50 yards from the SL, not completing his return until I called him with "Here".

I think it's possible that the latter behavior might have been an indication of reduced energy level, perhaps caused by recently diagnosed Lyme Disease and/or the course of Doxycycline that he's taking for it. Once before Laddie put a bird down on a long return in a series of four long singles that Charlie had set up, and Charlie commented later that it might have been because Laddie was taking a breather.

SERIES C. Delayed triple

Laddie and I ran Series C with a Hunt Test group training elsewhere on Gaby's property. The terrain for this set-up was a combination of alfalfa and cut corn fields, with one very hilly section for the fall of the center mark.

The first mark (WB) of Series C was in the center, thrown left to right from a holding blind at 110 yards. The second mark (WB), the go-bird, was on the right, thrown right to left at 70 yards. While the dog was returning with the first bumper, a BB was used to throw the third mark on the left, left to right at 80 yards. Although the distances for Series C with this group were shorter than the distances for Series A and B for the Field Trial group, the marks were difficult enough that every mark required hunts for some of the dogs, especially the longest mark in the center. Laddie, however, nailed every mark.

SERIES D, etc. Hunt Test preparation

After Series C, Laddie and I trained with Gaby and Buster on a different field. To provide some light, motivational, last minute preparations for their Hunt Tests this weekend, we focused primarily on a variety of singles and blinds for Buster. But Laddie also ran an interrupted double and a long final mark. He nailed all of those marks as well.

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