Sunday, July 26, 2015

Water entries and points

Laddie and I worked alone at our nearest training property this morning, but I didn't run him on any blinds even though I had no one to throw for me. Instead, I ran poorman marks, where I put Laddie into a sit, went out to throw a bumper, and then returned to run him.

First I ran him on two marks across corners of the pond, in both cases with difficult angle entries and with the longest available land segments both before and after the water for that training area. He ran both of them straight as an arrow, with good entries rather than attempting to run the banks, and also without taking exaggerated, fat entries that squared the shoreline.

Next I ran him on about twenty marks across a section of the pond that includes a point of land approximately half way across. For each mark, I placed a lining pole with a ribbon that I threw the bumper to, so that Laddie would have a clear target as he swam. Four of the marks, inserted randomly and also including the last one, were Laddie's preferred configuration: swimming past the point without getting up on land. For all the others, the line to the fall was over the point. When Laddie started to swim around the point on those, as he did nearly every time, I would stop him with a whistle and then either handle him onto the point, or call him all the way back to the start line. Finally, for the last two marks across the point, he took the route over the point without requiring a handle.

Although running a mark over a point still seems to be difficult for Laddie, I guess it's easier than it was a couple of weeks ago, since he never vocalized as he approached the point nor when I cast him. It does seem that he has not devised a rule that tells him automatically whether or not to go over the point without being handled. The ideal rule, of course, would be that that's the straightest way to the mark, but I guess he's been using some other rule, such as stay in the water, for so many years that he still hasn't figured out that I won't let him finish the mark if he uses his old rule when the line is over the point. But hopefully in time he'll figure it out.

I had him swim back, rather than run the bank, on every return. That was also never automatic. Every time, he started to come back on land and I needed to handle him into the water, and watch him as he completed his return to prevent him from detouring over to the shore. Once again, we're trying to change a habit established years ago and practiced countless times since. I still don't believe in requiring him to swim back when a land route is readily available, to be honest. I don't see how it helps the elements of his performance that matter to judges. But there's no point in asking for advice from the pros we've been training with and then ignoring it, and this was something that they were adamant about. So whether I understand the reasons or not, and whether I believe in it or not, that's the way Laddie and I are working now.

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