Friday, January 7, 2011

Land blinds, retired mark

Mt. Ararat Farm

SERIES A. Four land blinds

Series A consisted of four blinds, at 60-90-130-370 yards.

I had Laddie run all four. Next Gaby ran Gus, one of her Chessies (her Lab is having some soreness so Gaby's resting him for a few days, and the other Chessies is recovering from surgery). Finally, I had Lumi run all but the 370-yard blind. I didn't run Lumi on the long blind not only because of the distance, but also because it traversed two corn fields, which I thought might be hard on her sensitive feet and joints.

For Laddie and Gus, our primary interest in Series A was quick responses to whistle sits. Gaby and I were prepared to use Walk Outs if either of our dogs did not sit promptly, but it wasn't necessary. In Laddie's case, that even included a nice whistle sit at the edge of an embankment at 360 yards. Laddie was on a good line, but I wanted to sit him so that I could send him straight back with a final cast down the embankment and out of sight, where he would need to cross a dirt road and run partly up a second embankment to the blind.

As I've mentioned in the past, Lumi is now retired from competition. I run her only to keep up her conditioning, and hopefully to give her some pleasure. She is exempt from any pressure to sit on a whistle, remain steady on marks, or otherwise perform according to event requirements.

SERIES B. Land double with retired mark

For Series B, the first mark was on the right, thrown left to right at 350 yards. The second mark was thrown by the handler to the left side. While the dog was picking up the short mark, the long gunner retired behind a tree.

Before running the dogs, Gaby and I tried throwing both a white and black bumper for the long mark. Even with streamers, the black bumper was invisible in flight from the SL. The white bumper was slightly more visible so we used that.

Challenges of the long mark were as follows:
  • The gunner's position was in front of a tree in a diagonal row of trees, so that without being able to see the gunner after the gunner had retired, the dog had to remember which tree the gunner had been throwing from.
  • At that distance, the gunshot was relatively faint, giving the dog limited help in finding the correct direction to look in order to mark the throw.
  • The ground was covered in patches of white from a light snowfall that morning. In addition, the backdrop for the throw was the speckled pattern of winter tree foliage against grey sky. As a result, the thrower was difficult to spot at that distance, the arc of the throw was barely visible, and the thrown bumper was also barely visible lying on the ground. In addition, the freezing temps reduced the strength of the bumper's scent.
Despite these difficulties, Laddie ran an excellent line, not at the gunner's position but slightly to the right, toward the fall. He passed a few yards inside the fall and overran the distance slightly, suddenly swung around to the fall, scooped up the bumper on the run, and raced home with it.

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