Friday, March 21, 2014

Laddie post at Hunting Retriever Stud Dogs

I found a Facebook group that I thought Laddie should be posted in: Hunting Retriever Stud Dogs

I don't understand Facebook very well. This is a closed group, so you may not be able to see the post without joining the group. Also, unlike my YouTube videos and blog posts, I don't know how to send a link of my Facebook post about Laddie.

But here's what I wrote:

This is Topbrass Lad of the Lakes SH WCX ** (Laddie). In addition to his titles, he so far has two Master legs and six Qual JAMs, including two Reserved JAMs. He began standing stud in summer of 2013, and has bred naturally, with side-by-side AI, and with shipped frozen breeding units. He is one of the only positive-trained retrievers ever in advanced AKC competition and is his owner/trainer/handler's first Master/FT field dog, so Laddie's success, including a JAM in his first field trial when he was 3yo, is a testament above all to his natural ability. His sire was Beau Geste, one-time Field Trial News Golden of the Year for both Amateur and Open, and his dam was Pawsability, a rare combination of a breeding female Golden who also earned a field championship. Besides Laddie's proven talent in the field, he also has remarkable genetics: OFA hips rated excellent, additional OFA clearances for eyes, heart, and elbow, and Optigen status of CLEAR for both of the PRA tests as well as Ichthyosis. See full pedigree, all clearances, and a puppy picture at You can watch one of Laddie's many online videos at For more info, please send email to LDRidgeway at gmail dot com.

The post was accompanied by two photos (that's the maximum number of photos you're allowed to post for a dog in this group). I attached the following two photos to the post:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Switching to preparation for Master tests

Although we still have a lot of snow on the ground, it was a beautiful and relatively warm day (40s), so Laddie and I went out for some training with two assistants.

The last few months, we've been training primarily with an eye toward running in Quals and possibly other field trial events in the future, and also working on Laddie's popping (for one approach we've been using, see Anti-popping: The Fake Throw Drill).

But I've now entered Laddie in five Master tests for the spring, and will probably enter him in others when they open. He only needs three more passes for his Master Hunter title so we may end up withdrawing from some of the later ones, but in any case, hopefully we'll run at least three.

So, with a month or so to go before the first of those, I felt it was time to switch from predominantly field trail-style setups that we've been running since the fall, and start running more hunt test-style setups. That means shorter marks and blinds, use of duck calls, hidden guns (or retired when hidden not practical), dark colors for the throwers, and occasional practicing of walk ups. We've already been running hunt test-style setups at our monthly RRRC training days, but now we'll also run more of them in our daily training.

Today was an example, so I thought I'd describe it as an entry in this training journal.

We ran two series, each consisting of a land double plus a handler throw to the side, and a land blind on a line between the two marks. The blind was longer than the marks, and all the retrieves were 110-170y. For the first series, Laddie picked up the marks first, then the blinds. For the second, I had him pick up the blind first, then called for the throws. The reason for that change was that the second setup, which was designed by my assistants, had the hot blind too close to one of the throws, risking Laddie picking up the blind when sent for the nearby mark, so we just got it out of the way first.

Another difference was that in the first setup, I had both throwers fake their throws, continuing with the Fake Throw drill mentioned above, but in this session, at shorter distances and with the guns retired, both factors a bit different from earlier sessions of running that drill. As a result of the fake throws, Laddie needed a hunt on both marks, in one case a fairly long hunt. As hoped for, Laddie never showed any lack of confidence in his hunting and never showed any inclination to pop.

However, while that was hopefully good for our anti-popping efforts, I'd also like Laddie to get back in the habit of pinpoint marking under more favorable conditions (to wit, the dog actually seeing the throw), so for the second series, I asked the bird-girls to actually throw the bumpers before retiring rather than tossing them into position while Laddie was still in the van waiting to run. That resulted in better marking, including one mark in confusing terrain where I had lost track of where the fall was but Laddie raced out to it on a beeline.

By the way, I mentioned that the throwers retired in today's session. Hunt test marks use hidden guns, not retired guns, but for this session, hidden guns weren't practical.

I was pleased with Laddie's work on both the marks and the blinds. I think it was a good start for this phase of our winter training.
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