Saturday, October 8, 2011

Club training day, solo steadying with triples, water T-drill


Sunny, temps in 50s and 60s.

All marks were ducks, all blinds were bumpers.  Duck calls and shotgun fire (blanks) for all marks.  Dark clothing, holding blinds at all gun stations.  Some wingers, some hand-throws.

A) Group land triple and two blinds.  Master triple, one Senior blind, one Qual blind.  Factors for all retrieves were primarily hills, and strips or large patches of high cover.  Laddie did a nice job on all five retrieves.

B) Solo steadying with triples.  Between series, I worked alone with Laddie in a meadow, using an idea recommended to me by Dave, the guy who shoots flyers for us sometimes.

In today's drill, first I would throw a triple from the area of the SL, and have Laddie pick up those marks.  Then I'd put him in a sit, position myself as I do when we're honoring (standing at his right flank facing backwards) and say "sit . . . just watch" a few times.  Then I'd re-throw the same triple, and then go out and pick up all the bumpers myself.  While picking them up, I'd throw bumpers around in the field and pick those up as well.  I used duck-call, hopefully adding some excitement.  We did at least a half dozen of these drills in various locations.

Laddie never broke, so I don't know how much benefit this was, but he did stand on a couple of the honors, and I immediately cued sit, so he may have been getting at least a little useful steadiness preparation.  

C) Group water triple with blind.  Master water triple, Qual water blind.  Laddie and I, however, did not run the group version of the marks.  Instead, I had Laddie run singles from three different SLs some distance away from the group SL and with more difficult lines.  All four retrieves were difficult enough for Laddie to get some learning in (I hope).  However, one of the marks required handling to keep Laddie off a point, and he vocalized.  He then vocalized again on the blind.  I don't know whether a judge in the various FT stakes would tolerate that much vocalizing.  I've heard there's significant variation in FT judges' tolerance for vocalizing in water, but we've only run three Qual water blinds.  Laddie was called back from two of them, at least one of which included vocalizing.  He was not called back from the third, but I don't think it was because of the vocalizing.

In any case, since my goal is to give Laddie several consecutive months of no vocalizing in water, it turned out to be a mistake to modify today's marks, since perhaps he would not have vocalized on the smaller group setup, which might not have required any handling.  Then, since no point was involved in the blind, he might have been calmer and not vocalized on the blind, either.  Sigh.

D) Water T-drill.  With group training completed, this was some additional solo work.  Laddie and I worked on the same drill I've described recently, and which we have been practicing (along with some land blinds and poorman marks, land and water) pretty much every day recently at nearby Rolling Ridge.  The original drill involved sending Laddie down the middle on all five retrieves.  #1-3-5 were freebies (no handling), while #2-4 required handling to left and right.  However, the more recent version of the drill replaces either #2 or #4 with a blind across a point.  Although such a blind would almost invariably result in vocalizing if done by itself, Laddie does not vocalize on these blinds when run within the context of the 5-retrieve T-drill.  Today wee ran this drill in at least a half dozen locations without Laddie vocalizing a single time.

It is encouraging that we are able to practice water blinds without Laddie vocalizing, but as today's group work shows, it remains to be seen whether doing so over a period of time will ever have the effect of ending his vocalizing in a group situation.  I guess we'll keep at it, and we'll know more in the spring.


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