With high temps and thunderstorms coming, Laddie and I again did land work early this morning, as we had the week before.
Using three assistants, I set up two series in succession in a large rectangular meadow, running in opposite directions and mirror images of each other.
In each series, the center station at 120y threw a "flowerpot" (aka "momma-poppa"), that is, one throw to the left and one throw to the right. On one side, another station at 270y threw to the inside. On the other side, a station at 170y also threw to the inside. The throwing sequence was the longest mark thrown first, the center station throwing the same direction second, this other side station throwing third, and the center station throwing the same direction as the third station fourth.
This setup offered a number of challenging features: it was a quad, it was an indent (that is, the center station was the closest station), it was a flowerpot, and it contained not one but two pinch configurations (marks thrown toward one another but at different distances).
Adding to the potential difficulty, most of the throws were black bumpers, which are difficult to see against the background of trees and houses at this location. And because of the terrain and cover, once the gunners sat down, in some cases they were difficult to see from the distance at dogs-eye level, a device I've seen in field trial setups even when the gunners weren't fully retired.
Despite my effort to introduce difficult concepts into these setups, Laddie had no problem with any of the marks in the first series nor the first two marks of the second series. However, he got lost and needed help from the gunner on his third retrieve in that series, and popped at 180y running the final mark, though he was on a good line.
As challenging as the concepts may have been, I don't actually think that were the primary problem for either of the marks Laddie had trouble with. More important, I think, were the terrain (which was plateaus, dips, and ditches grown over with high cover interspersed with many trees and shrubs), the barely visible black bumpers, and the difficult-to-see gunners.
Yet even with all of those factors, I think it's possible Laddie could still have picked up the last two bumpers without help add he had all the others if not for one last circumstance: Laddie had been out in the heat working, and playing between setups, for a long time without water. I was short on time because I had to get to a meeting afterward, so my options were limited. But in retrospect, despite the expense of the hired assistants, I now think a better decision might have been to quit after one series.
Sigh. So much to learn.