Monday, June 22, 2015

Three single bird-girl water triples and a land blind

Based on Laddie's last two trials, I feel this might be a good time to work on water triples, especially with temps in the high 80s and 90s. But that meant a long drive and, to limit the expense, I decided to bring along just one assistant to act as bird-girl, that is, thrower or gun or gunner.

That meant that the three marks of each triple would all be thrown by a single gunner. That's not something that would happen in competition as far as I know, but it seemed to make the setups that much more challenging and hopefully added to their value as preparation for events we'll be running in the fall.

Because of the heat, and also under some time constraint, I wanted to use relatively short marks, but in configurations that would be difficult enough to strengthen Laddie's skills. Here's what I came up with:

Series A. Single bird-girl water triple

The first throw was on the left, RTL down an embankment into a clump of cover on a slope in front of a tree. The line to the fall from the start line was a short land segment to a difficult angle entry across a corner of a pond, then across a strip of land and diagonally across a channel to the embankment.

After the gunner threw the first mark, she moved to line's right and made the second throw, again RTL down an embankment into a clump of cover on a slope in front of a different tree. My intent was that the two marks would look nearly identical, just a few degrees angle from one another. The line to the second mark was easier: a land segment, then a channel crossing to the embankment.

For the third mark, the bird-girl did not move, making the second two throws what's called a momma-poppa, often a confusing and difficult configuration for a retriever. The last throw was fairly easy, though, an angle back LTR into a depression in shadows on the land segment at the far side of the channel crossing. After the last throw, the bird-girl sat down on a chair, remaining visible as Laddie ran the marks.

Laddie had little difficulty with the go-bird but did not seem to remember either of the other two lines. I did not ask the gunner for rethrows or other help, but instead took the opportunity to blow the whistle and switch Laddie from marking mode to handling mode, something we rarely practice and something he seemed to have some difficulty with in a couple of trials this sitting.

I had not been certain whether Laddie would find a relatively short, single bird-girl water triple difficult, but not I knew that he would and felt we should continue to work on various versions of that format.

Series B. Single bird-girl water triple

Since Series A had featured a momma-poppa as the last two marks, for Series B, I made them the first two marks, in effect retiring the momma-poppa gunner. This was the setup:

The first throw was an angle back LTR in front of a tree. The line to it would be a center channel swim, a channel crossing, and a short land segment.

The second throw was from the same position of the gunner, this time an angle in LTR in front of a closer tree. The line to it would be a short channel swim close to the shore line, then a channel swim, and up onto shore to the base of the tree.

After the bird-girl threw those two marks, she ran on an angle back to line's left 70y, and then threw a flat throw LTR before sitting in a chair while Laddie ran the marks. The line to the third mark was to the left of the others, though all three were tight, within a thirty-degree angle. This time the line across the channel was tight to shore on Laddie's other side, and the land segment to this third mark, the go-bird, had the unusual feature of being easily the longest of the three marks and the more unusual feature of requiring Laddie to run past both of the other marks while they were still down to get to the go-bird.

Laddie had no trouble with the go-bird, including no attempt to bail out and come up on the side shore on this or the other channel crossings. He didn't seem to remember the exact line to the mark on the right, but took a fairly good line to it and quickly found the bumper in the cover in front of the tree on the far shore of the channel. When I sent him to the center mark, the mom of the momma-poppa, he clearly did not remember it and, after crossing the channel, started to run long, so I again took the opportunity to blow my whistle and handler him to the mark.

Series C. Single bird-girl water triple

For the third series, I decided to again have the momma-poppa last with the gunner remaining visible.

The first mark was on the right, thrown on angle back LTR across a channel, thus a "bridge" configuration. But the line to the strip of land where the gunner threw from was a long channel swim in a stick pond, making the mark more than 200y, mostly swimming between two nearby shorelines.

After the gunner threw the first mark, she ran about a hundred yards toward the start line on the left side of the channel. From there, she threw the second mark on an angle back onto the bank down to the channel. The line to that mark was a diagonal swim across the stick pond, the challenge being that of an up-the-shore mark, not to come out of the water and up onto shore too soon.

The third throw, the pop of the momma-poppa, was supposed to be RTL but the bird-girl forgot and threw an angle in LTR to a closer position in the same bank as the second throw.

Laddie did a good job on the two short marks, and then I decided to have the bird-girl take her chair and run back to the original position of her first throw. I then sent Laddie on the long channel swim. After about a hundred yards he was veering too close to the left side and I had the bird-girl stand up, call hey-hey-hey, and fake a throw. Laddie started to adjust his direction but I didn't want to take a chance of him bailing out so I asked for a second fake throw. Laddie then completed the mark. He hunted the near shore of the final channel crossing, as often happens on a bridge configuration, but quickly gave up that hunt and crossed the channel to the mark.

So this was a more physical setup than the first two, but Laddie remembered all the lines and  required no handling.

Series D. Land blind

To wrap up our session,  I had Laddie run a 200y land blind past a shady outcropping of trees. The first time I sent him and blew a whistle when he veered a bit off line, his sit was a little too slow and I picked him up. The second time, he completed the blind nicely.

I then dried him off and we headed for home.

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