Today I picked up two assistants and they helped me with Laddie at our closest training property.
My first series was the longest and hardest: On the right, a retired long water mark, over a point of land and with the bumper thrown LTR onto low ground behind a crest. On the left, the go-bird, thrown LTR into high cover, with a point of land on the line to the mark. For the go-bird, Laddie swam around the point, then straight to the mark. He then nailed the long retired mark, climbing onto the point and then continuing straight into the second water rather than following the bank around to the right.
For the second series, the lines to both marks were again over points of land. In this case, the shorter mark was retired and I used a side throw to give the gunner time to put up her umbrella.
Laddie tried to cheat on the shorter mark, not because it was retired but because the point of land extended mostly toward the start line rather than to the side. I called him back and had the marks thrown again, and this time Laddie ran the short mark well according to his training, but he swam around the point, which I know is unacceptable to some trainers.
The line to the long mark was a land segment, a difficult angle entry into the first water, across or around a point, a shoreline swim, and short final land segment. The first time I sent Laddie, he started to run the bank on the first water entry so I called him back and sent him again. This time he nailed it, veering slightly at the point to swim around it. I was glad to see her did not bail out at the end but held his line all the way to the mark.
For the third series, I used both sides of a channel that ran away from the start line. Each side was shaped with a point, and I had my assistants throw their converging throws to locations producing lines just over the points. Laddie nailed both marks except that he swam around both points.
Because of the criticism I received from the pros I was recently training with for allowing Laddie to swim around points, perhaps I should be worried that Laddie did that on five of the six marks I tried to set up as re-entries today. But I'm not worried, actually. I've trained with too many other trainers who never mentioned that as a weakness in Laddie's training. I even remember one experienced field trialer who regarded that as a good trait in Laddie's work. Not knowing whether to train Laddie to climb over points on marks, rather than swim around them, especially when training for quals rather than all-age if that matters, is yet one more example of my inexperience.
However, i recognize that I do need to be able to handle Laddie over a point if it's on the line to a blind, as opposed to a mark. So we wrapped today's session up with a water blind that included a long swim, then climbing up the steep embankment that made up the front side of a point, running between a tree and the water, and then getting back into the water and swimming diagonally across a channel to the blind rather than running the bank or hugging the bank behind the point. Laddie resisted getting up onto the point but he did it, and he did everything else easily.
I have no idea what the water marks will look like for the competitions we'll be running this fall, beginning next Saturday. But I'm trying to make sure that if they include cheating entries and/or re-entries, we'll have done what we can to be ready for them.