Sunday, November 14, 2010

Retired Guns, Land Blinds

Newcut Road

Last time we trained on the hilly fields off Newcut Road, about 20 minutes from here, they were farmland. Today, dozens of construction vehicles were parked in one section of the field, and most of the fields had been cleared, leaving only packed dirt and an occasional survey flag on a wooden pole. A few large areas of meadow, fringed by strips of high grass, remained, so I ran some of today's series on the packed dirt and others on the meadow. But the meadow ground was stubbly and though Laddie continued to sprint on his outruns as he always has, he slowed to a trot on his returns thru those meadows. Since he normally gallops on his returns, I suspect the ground stubble was causing some discomfort. Since I don't want to create a negative association with retrieving, we probably won't work on those stubbly surfaces in future sessions here.

Conditions: a sunny day with blue skies, temps in the low 60s, and a light wind from the south.


In today's description, I again use the term "retired" to describe what is really a hidden gun. This is the best I've been able to come up with for working on retired guns when we're training alone. Although the gun station is not visible at the moment the mark is thrown as with a true retired gun, I do allow Laddie to see the field with all the stickmen visible when I'm first lining him up, and I also allow him to watch me walk to the stickman, lay it down, and walk back. This sequence enables Laddie to get a good picture of the field with all the guns visible, then run the marks with one of the "gunners" hidden, somewhat resembling a retired gun concept.

SERIES A. Land blind

Series A was a 160-yard blind thru the meadow. The "judge's line" required the dog to maintain a narrow corridor and go thru a small section of high cover the dog could easily cheat around.

SERIES B and C. Inline triples, one gun retired

For Series B and C, I set up stickmen with two BBs and an RL in a line spaced 40 yards apart, all throwing in the same direction, in line with the stickmen. The middle mark fell into a depression and out of sight from the SL, while the longest mark fell on the facing side of a hill. The running surface of the hilly field was packed dirt. The SL was 120 yards from the closest stickman, at a 105° angle to the line of the gun stations.

For Series B, I brought Laddie to the SL, showed him the gun stations, then cued "sit". As he waited, I walked to the closest gun and lay the stickman down on the ground behind the RL. Then I returned to the SL, fired the three launchers longest first, middle second, shortest third, and sent Laddie to them in reverse order of the throws.

For Series C, I again left Laddie in a "sit" at the SL as I walked out into the field. I stood the stickman back up at the shortest station, re-planted a WB for that mark, and reloaded the weighted streamer into the launcher. Then I walked to the middle station, lay that stickman on the ground behind the BB, and walked back to the SL. There I fired the three launchers and ran Laddie in the same sequences as before.

Performance on Series B and C

For Series B, Laddie nailed the shortest mark, then ran a good line toward the second mark in a depression but overran it and headed up the hill to where the longest mark was. I blew WS and gave him a come-in cast. He ran straight to the middle dummy and brought it back. On the longest mark, Laddie needed a big hunt which took him both long and behind the gun, but he stayed within a reasonable hunting area and eventually found the bumper.

For Series C, Laddie nailed every mark. I was especially pleased with his performance on the middle memory-bird, because he took a perfect line despite the fact that both the stickman and the bumper were hidden from view at the SL.

SERIES D. Land triple with long gun retired

Series D was an xmas-tree configuration. The first mark was in the middle, thrown by a BB right to left at 220 yards into a depression. The second mark was on the left, thrown by a BB right to left at 190 yards. The third mark was on the right, thrown by an RL left to right at 70 yards.

In order to "retire" the middle gun, I brought Laddie to the SL, showed him the stickmen at each of the three gun stations, cued "sit", walked out to the long gun station, lay that stickman down behind the BB, walked back, fired the three launchers, and sent Laddie to pick up the three marks in reverse order of the throws.

Laddie nailed all three marks. I was especially pleased by his performance on the last retrieve, since both the stickman and the bumper were hidden from view at the SL. I also hoped that mark on the left would add to the challenge, since it was almost as far as the mark in the middle, requiring the dog to remember that another mark still lay in that same general direction at that same general distance though both the "bird" and the "thrower" were no longer visible.

SERIES E. Land blind

Series E was a 260-yard blind across hilly meadowland. A narrow corridor for Series E required the dog to run thru a small patch of high cover at 130 yards when it would be easy for the dog to skirt the cover on either side.

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