With temps in the high fifties and even some moments of sunshine, I picked up two assistants this morning and we drove to Cheltenham to train for a couple of hours.
First I set up a water double with both marks offering long swims and difficult cheats, and we ran it as singles. Laddie ran the first one without cheating, but needed handling on the second. Then he ran a big water blind across the point of an island on a line between the two marks. Laddie handled well on both the mark and the blind, but his vocalizing has gotten worse. He vocalized on almost every cast and also vocalized while swimming sometimes even when not being handled.
Although all of the retrieves in the first series were long, we then moved to a new location and set up another water double plus blind where the retrieves were even longer. The double was also a more difficult configuration, a hip pocket double with a cheaty water re-entry on the left and a long swim between two points on the right. And the blind was a channel crossing, a difficult angle water re-entry, and a long swim the length a stick pond channel with a key hole at mid point. All of this work was too difficult for Laddie. He needed to be handled on both marks and needed to try the blind three times, since I called him all the way back when he climbed up onto the point going thru the key hole the first two times. Interestingly, although he vocalized a great deal when handled in this series, he stopped vocalizing once thru the key hole even though he still needed additional handling. I wish I knew why he stopped vocalizing. I've always thought I noticed a pattern of Laddie vocalizing more when he's near me than at greater distances. Today was consistent with that pattern.
To end the day we ran a big reverse hip pocket land double followed by a big land blind that featured crossing the slope of a mound. Laddie ran reasonable marks but hooked the gun on the long memory bird. That was not ideal but, since it indicates he had some confusion, the good news is that he didn't pop but rather worked it out without help. On the blind, he took his initial line across the slope of the mound well and two-whistled the blind.
Yes, Laddie needed more help than I would have planned for, but we trained on long and difficult retrieves, and he did the work with that characteristic all-out, never flagging enthusiasm I always find so inspiring. For me, it was a challenging but enjoyable session, and I hope for Laddie, too.