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.

1 comment:

ByronMusick said...

From a good friend, You are going to get that MH, hope we are there with you!! Byron & Kathy Musick

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