Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lighter schedule

On advice from Alice and Jody, I've backed off on Laddie's training schedule. For example, instead of training every day as we always have, this week we trained on Tuesday, Thursday, and today (Saturday), and next week I plan to train only on Tuesday and Thursday before our trial next Saturday.

The weather is now warm enough that we could be training on water, and ideally we'd be running both land and water retrieves. However, circumstances are pushing us to focus on land at this time.  If Laddie gets thru the land and gets dropped for poor water work in our trial, I'll change our focus for subsequent training.  We are doing some water even so, but mostly land.

Today was an example. I only had two bird-girls today, so to run triples, the last throw was just me throwing a bumper to the side as the go-bird. It was no challenge itself, but it gave the gunners a chance to retire when I had asked them to.

In that way, we ran two land triples. The first had the bird girls throwing a double at 260-110y, with the long gun retired. The second had them throwing a double at 310-130y, with the short gun retired.

For both setups, I used the hilly terrain, cover changes, obstructions to push the dog off line, repetitive visual patterns to challenge the dog's memory on retired guns, and what little wind we had, to try to maximize difficulty.

Results: Laddie nailed both of the short marks.  He "stepped on" the first long mark but didn't see it and continued running, then saw Annette behind the umbrella she was using to retire and then ran straight to the bumper, which I thought was a pretty good way to run what I thought was a pretty difficult mark.

For the last long mark, construction materials pushed Laddie to the left, and the terrain continued to push him that direction. He veered back enough to the right to run toward the gunner, ran just past her on the wrong side, but before she could stand up (per my instructions when Laddie gets behind her), he hooked straight to the bumper. Not the perfect mark, but pretty good I thought.

Finally, I ran Laddie on a 320y land blind off to the left of all the marks he'd run. The first challenge was that the initial line was diagonally across a slope and was cluttered with clumps of high cover and a few bits of construction debris. Next came a 100y stretch of dirt road in an S-shape, leading the dog offline alternately to left and right.  Next was a large slope that the line to the blind just cleared on the left. I believe that a dog can be tempted to wrap around such an obstacle, and in this case, that's also where the road led to, adding more suction to taking the dog out of sight behind the slope.

Next the line went over a small crest, such that the dog would be out of sight for 50y. I assume such a setup would never happen in a real trial, but the earlier part of the blind seemed interesting, and I wanted the extra distance, so I went with it. Assuming the dog carried straight back 50y after the crest, the dog would then become visible and then needed to carry another 50y in a depression, and finally up a steep embankment and onto a plateau, where the blind was planted in an area of sparse but high cover.

Laddie ran this blind nicely.  He took a great initial line, not attempting to square the slope in either direction, and continued straight to the road.  From there he drifted left, and took good sit-whistles and casts to the edge of the crest where he was about to go out of sight.  He stayed a bit to the left of the line during the middle section of the blind, and never came close to heading behind the slope.  I stopped him at the crest, cast him straight back, and that took him the last 110y to the blind.

All of this was on a 72-degree sunny afternoon, so I think it was a bit tiring as well as having some challenging pictures.  To me it seemed like a useful training session.


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