I wish I had time for a catch-up post on all the interesting (at least to me) work Laddie and I have been doing, but I guess I'll just write a single- day journal entry for now.
Yesterday I brought Laddie and one bird-boy to Cheltenham to work on water honesty. Temps were in the high 80s, too hot for much land work, but Laddie seemed fine with the hour or so of water work.
I used a half dozen or so single water mark setups intended to give Laddie practice choosing water rather than land to stay on line.
I say "practice" rather than "train", though of course it's still training, because I found that whenever Laddie attempted to cheat, I never needed to blow the whistle and handle him, as I would have if this were earlier in his development. Instead, I found I could call "no, here" (or some variation thereof), bring him back to heel, and send him again. In all cases but one, he then ran the mark as I wanted him to, taking water, indicating to me that he just needed to practice this concept rather than requiring detailed guidance. For the one case where re-sending didn't work, which featured an ambiguous initial water entry followed by a point and unambiguous but difficult re-entry, after he cheated the first entry twice, I decided to move up to make the first entry unambiguous, and then he ran both entries correctly.
One of my favorite performances was a mark consisting of a longish swim to a point, across an inlet to a second point, and finally across another inlet to the bumper. I had the bumper thrown so that it would be visible from the second point, so there would be no question, if Laddie cheated, as to whether he knew where the direct line to the mark was.
For this setup, I was willing to accept Laddie going around either or both points, or getting on and off either or both points, as long as he didn't run the bank around either inlet. But it was a big swim if he chose to swim around both points. Yet that's what he did, and then stayed on line and in the water even as he got close to the bumper, rather than squaring the bank to shorten the last few yards of his swim. I thought it was a nice display of courage, facing down that long swim, as well as of water "honesty".
The last setup of the afternoon featured a longish land entry, a difficult angle into the water, and a swim across the pond parallel to, and a few yards from, the shoreline. When Laddie took a nice entry into the water, and again did not come out of the water early as he approached the far bank, I felt that was a good retrieve to end our session with.
As for other training Laddie and I have been doing since he completed his MH, I'll just mention that we're training approx every other day, training with field trial groups whenever possible, and working as best we can on the skills Laddie will need for all-age competition. I'll provide additional detail in future posts whenever possible.