After a couple of days when Laddie and I ran tune-up drills since my last post, yesterday we went to a training day conducted by one of the retriever clubs I belong to.
I was one of the two group leads, which means I set up one of two series and worked the line on both series for our group. I also worked one of the gun stations near the end of the day, as people finished training their dogs and then left instead continuing to help in the field.
The way this club runs training day, the group lead sets up a Master-level series, then suggested modifications for each handler, who could be running a dog just getting started, or training for Junior, Senior, or Master tests. Even the handlers training for Master often request modifications. When I run Laddie, I also generally find ways to modify the setup to try to maximize Laddie's training benefit.
So here's how it went.
First series. Water triple with out of order flyer, water blind with diagonal keyhole, honor
In order to maximize temptation to break on the flyer, I ran Laddie from the shallow water at the narrow end of a pond that Laddie would swim across to reach the flyer station. From that position, the first throw was from the middle station, thrown from the top of a mound on an angle-in down to the bottom of the mound at the edge of a group of trees that Laddie would run thru, after swimming diagonally across the pond, to reach the bird. The second throw was the flyer on the left, thrown RTL. The third throw was 180° around to the right, thrown on an angle back into open water behind a small island, so that Laddie could not see the bird floating on the water till he got past the island. All the guns were hidden behind holding blinds.
Laddie was steady, watched all the birds thrown despite the difficult line mechanics, and nailed all the marks. He swam around the island on the long go-bird rather than over it.
For the blind, I moved our start line up a hill behind several strips of high cover. Laddie took a good initial line diagonally dowm the slope and into the pond. He carried his line well into the water, and was somewhat vocal as he approached the keyhole, formed by a point of land on the left and an island on the right, but he quieted when he realized that I wanted him to swim thru the keyhole. His handling was good most of time, with one lapse when he ended up too wide.
Laddie was steady as a rock for the triple with the nearby flyer, and again steady for the honor, which was with all dead birds.
Second series. Water triple, then a water blind over a point of land
The third series was around the horn, with all three marks featuring difficult water entries with easy cheats. Laddie nailed all three marks. I made a handling error on the middle mark, handling Laddie back out into water as he approached the shore, when I later realized that he had been on line to the bird and I had handled him off line when I prevented him from continuing straight to shore.
Laddie was vocal on the blind but ran it well, taking a sharp angle entry on a line under the arc of the triple's go-bird, handling onto the point but unfortunately not quietly, and taking a good cast off the point, carrying it to the end of a channel and to the bird behind cover on the far edge of the pond.
It was a good training day but long. Laddie and I left home at 5:30am and got back at 7:30pm. Being alone for long drives tends to trigger depression for me, but the club members were wonderfully friendly throughout the day.