Between long hours of work and temps in the 90s, Laddie and I had little opportunity to train this last week. But we made up for it on the weekend.
On Saturday (yesterday), we participated at club training day. I got to lead the advanced group, and we ran two setups. They were intended for dogs training for Master, but some of the blinds may have been a bit harder than typical Master blinds.
The first series was a walk-up land triple, with the second two marks 180 degrees apart and thrown into high cover. The setup had three blinds available: (1) 40y into cover, to the right of the rightmost mark, (2) 160y on a line between the center mark and the mark on the right, with an angle entry into high conver at the end, and (3) a difficult 110y blind with the line across a corner of high cover on the left, then under the arc of the leftmost mark, then diagonally across a mowed strip with an angle entry into high cover on the right.
The second series was a water triple. The first mark, in the center, was on a line past a point on the right, then past a point on the left, then to the vicinity in the water of a third point. The throw was supposed to be in reeds, but neither the original thrower, nor I when I relieved him, managed to put a single bird into the reeds, we always overthrew. After that mark was thrown, the second bird splashed down between the near shoreline and reeds 20y from the start line, an unusual competition fall worth giving the dogs some experience with. Finally, the go-bird was a cheaty mark on the left with a sharp angle entry.
The water series had two available blinds. One was to the right of the cheaty go-bird, so still a bit cheaty. The longer blind was the most difficult blind of the day; one of the trainers said it was more like an all-age blind than a Master or Qual blind. The start line was on the same shore as the one for the triple, but some distance to the side. The line was between the same two points as the long first mark of the triple, then thru the area of that fall (that is, past another point on the right), then up onto a fourth point, and finally another ten yards inland. So the blind featured several chances to lose the dog on either side of the narrow corridor.
After yesterday's work, Laddie and I got home after 6pm, and this morning we were back on the road before 5am. Arriving at our group location before the other teams, I ran Laddie on a 180y blind that required him to jump over an overturned canoe at 50y, then make a difficult water entry at 140y.
When the group leader arrived, he set up a triple intended to be run as three singles and modified as appropriate for each dog. Each mark was up-the-shore at the right edge of one of the ponds, with the wind blowing LTR. Because I had another training appointment (see below), I ran Laddie on the two outer marks, shortening them and changing the angle on the last one, which featured a swim diagonally across a channel, then a re-entry to a pond for the up-the-shore throw.
After I ran Laddie on those two marks, I made my apologies and drove Laddie half an hour to a steeplechase course. There I had arranged to meet my friend Dave, who brought two ducks and two assistants. We ran two triples with the flyer at close range, Laddie as usual wearing a tab, which enabled me to prevent him from breaking. For the first triple, the flyer was thrown as the go-bird. For the second triple, the flyer was thrown second, while the go-bird was thrown 180 degrees away on the left. The center mark, thrown first from behind a tree, on a line only a few degrees to the left of the gunner with the flyer, was difficult because Laddie, naturally, was focused on the guy with the live duck. In fact, I wasn't sure Laddie had seen the first throw, so I stopped the series and requested that we start again. It turns out that at least the second time, he did watch the throw, then quickly shifted his gaze to the flyer. Maybe that's what he had done the first time as well.
After we completed our training with Dave and his friends, Laddie and I drove back to the earlier location, where they were running the last dog on the series I described above. At my request, they let me run Laddie on the last mark again.
To end the day, the group leader set up three marks, all about 200y, again to be run as singles but with all the throwers standing the entire time. They were all within a 30 degree angle, but presented three separate concepts: the first was an obvious land single run to the left of the edge of a pond. The third was an obvious water mark, run across the center of the pond. In between was a cheaty water mark, featuring a run thru high cover so that when the dog emerged, she had to choose immediately whether to take the water entry in front of her or veer off and run the bank on the left.
After our three hour drive home, I rinsed Laddie off with the hose and dried him with the power drier, and at last our weekend of work was over.