Sunday, September 11, 2011

Steadiness training

Hay field dotted with hay bales near Warrenton, VA. Blue skies, high 70s, wind calm.

My friend Dave brought four live ducks and another trainer to run Lumi. I brought two dead ducks so Dave could throw flower pot doubles. Dave wore a white jacket. Not a perfect Qual land setup, but as close as we could get. No technical water available.

We ran doubles from two different locations. For the first, Dave was at 100y. For the second he was at 80y. For both, he threw the dead bird first, then shot the flyer, throwing it so it would land out of sight over a crest, increasing suction. For each double, I ran Laddie first, then had him honor Lumi as she ran the same series.

Both dogs wore tabs. Laddie has been wearing a tab whenever practicing for several weeks, hopefully somewhat habitualizing to it. In addition, I held the tab slack for every retrieve. I can't say whether he was aware of it or not. I hope not.

Lumi's handler did a nice job, except for releasing Lumi after the first throw in the second series, so that Dave ended up shooting the flyer while Lumi was picking up the dead bird. Lumi abandoned the dead bird and went after the flyer.

In any case, Laddie was steady all day. On the marks, he moved around between the throws, but made no attempt to break, even though I used a long delay after both birds were down before releasing him. On the honors, he was rock steady.

After the second series, we finished the session with Dave setting up a nice mid-size land blind for Laddie. Dave in his white jacket, the bird crate, and several ducks were positioned a little off the line as a diversion. Laddie ignored them completely.

Except for Lumi's early send on the second series, this was probably about as good a practice session as we could hope for, given available resources. It would appear that Laddie has recovered enough steadiness to get thru a Qual, unless he has become wise to the tab or other contextual elements. I'm hoping we'll have at least one more session with flyers before our next event on Saturday, but if not, I'll just have to hope for the best.


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