Saturday, April 6, 2013

Retired center marks with converging pairs

With freezing temps overnight this week, I still find it too cold to train in water, despite Laddie being entered in a trial next weekend. But we went out with three assistants and ran two land triples.

Conditions: bright sunlight but cold and breezy. Terrain: rolling hills, large patches of high but sparse grass. Dirt road crossings on every mark, various angles, including suction to run on or along the road on two of the marks.

Series A. Land triple with center gun retired

First mark was on the left, LTR from the edge of the road into a large patch of high cover at 270y. Second mark was in the center, RTL on an angle back at 190y. Throw was along edge of a large patch of high cover, so that the gunner (retired) was inside the patch, and the fall was also well inside the patch. Third mark was on the right, thrown by a prominent gun LTR into a patch of high cover at 60y.

Some of the challenges:

- Line mechanics: Though go-bird thrown to right, had to run Laddie on my left so that I could block him from turning too far after the first throw and never seeing the center throw.

- Memory-birds were converging throws.

- Center gun was retired, while long gun stayed out, increasing risk of confusion and a pop, or a switch if dog needed to hunt the second mark.

- Easiest trip to long gun would have been to run along the road to the gunner, then cut right to the fall, rather than take a straight line on a sharp diagonal across the road and into high cover.

How Laddie did:

- Watched all the throws

- Nailed right mark

- Took good line to center mark well back in high cover, but then needed hunt. Though hunt took Laddie toward gunner on left at one point, he turned back to the center fall, never switching or popping (yay)

- Nailed left mark, including sharp diagonal road crossing and angle entry into cover

Series B. Indent land triple with center gun retired

First mark was on the left, thrown LTR behind high cover at 290y. Second mark was in the center, thrown RTL into high cover at 70y. Third mark was on the right, thrown RTL behind large patch of high cover at 240y.


- Nearly 180 degrees from first to third throw, with center mark halfway, unusually wide angles for us

- Line mechanics again: This time the risk would be that Laddie would keep his gaze on the second throw and never see the third throw, so although go-bird was thrown to left, I ran Laddie on my right so I could visually push him, if necessary, to the go-bird

- Another risk was that he would "lie", that is, take an initial line to the go-bird but then veer over to the center bird

- Easiest trip to go-bird would have been to run along road to gunner, then turn left to the fall, whereas desirable straight trip was on a sharp angle across road and into high cover. This was a mirror image of the long memory-bird in Series A.

- Converging memory-birds probably not too confusing because of wide angles, but center bird the shortest and retired, still a potentially confusing configuration

- View of long memory-bird was thru branches of a small tree 50y out, making gunner a bit difficult to find

- Trip to long memory-bird included run thru cleared area, then entry into patch of cover and small trees. Would have been easiest to cheat around that last patch of cover.

How Laddie did: Watched all the throws, nailed every mark, not succumbing to any of the challenges mentioned above.

A good day of work.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Laddie's confidence improving

Laddie has now run eight triples in a row, over about two weeks, without a pop. Every one featured a retired gun, a 300+y mark, or both, and every one was run on rough, variable terrain with irregular crests, depressions, and embankments. Some of the marks were difficult enough to require a hunt, thus difficult enough to challenge Laddie's confidence. So I'm pleased that none resulted in a pop. That has been my greatest concern over the winter.

As an example of our current training sessions, today we ran two series. The first was an around-the-horn indent with the 110y center gun retired and a big memory-bird. The second was an xmas tree with the big center gun retired and the memory marks converging.

The money bird on the last one was the center memory mark: It was over 300y, angling into a head wind and the late afternoon sun, uphill, across a dirt road, a boulder-filled drainage ditch, and another dirt road, and over any number of ridges and depressions, some steep-banked. The fall was in a large, featureless patch of thick, long, dead, bent-over grass, while the gunner was retired behind a mound well to the right of where he'd thrown RTL from. When I sent Laddie, he looked at first like he might be headed too far right, but he was just navigating the terran and angled back left onto a good line once he's crossed the drainage ditch. He needed a hunt once he got to the area of the fall, and I was ready to call for help if he popped or got lost, but in a few seconds he picked up the bumper and headed back.

I always enjoy Laddie nailing a mark, as he had all the others today. But it was also good to see him needing a hunt and yet not popping.

Tonight I think I'll be entering Laddie in our first trial of the season. I haven't decided which one yet.


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