Yesterday afternoon I picked up the assistants and, on a perfect summer day with temps in low 80s, we returned to the equestrian park for another session. Because that's where we were training, the long marks were thrown with a pistol shot, while the short marks were thrown with hey-hey-hey to avoid possibly startling any horses on the field behind the woods where we were training.
I set up two mirror-image series at different locations and orientations of the field. Each was a triple with the guns for both memory birds retired, in a tight double with converging throws. After Laddie ran each triple, I ran him on a 300y+ blind under the arc of the long mark.
Laddie nailed both go-birds and the shorter memory bird of both triples, as well as the long memory bird of the second mark. But for some reason he was confused by the long retired memory bird of the first series and three times took a line toward the old fall of the shorter retired memory bird before I called him back. Finally I had the gunner come out and rethrow her bumper to the same location as her original throw, up a hill and into cover at 250y+, after which Laddie nailed it.
Laddie had tight sits on his blinds, ran tight corridors, and took the keyholes at 200y+, but for some reason he froze on several silent casts at the longer distances. At first I thought it was because I was standing in shadow and not wearing a white jacket, but putting on a jacket and stepping out into the bright sunshine didn't solve the problem. Either he's become confused about what a silent cast means, or he's having trouble seeing at those distances. He'll be seeing an ophthalmologist soon and we'll see if she finds anything.
Because of the difficulty on the blinds, after I dropped off the assistants, I took Laddie to another field and ran him on three more 250y+ blinds, on hilly terrain with rough footing, with the first thru a keyhole made by large shrubs and the other two with opportunities to wrap around a stand of trees he would run past, once on the right, once on the left. Again he froze on two or three silent casts, and in addition, on the middle blind, he uncharacteristically ignored a couple of sit whistles in the last third and took his own line to the bumper before I could stop him.
So even though we're only two days from our next competition, a little late to be learning anything new, it looks like we have some work to do on handling. We're running water today, but I think we better practice a long land blind or two today and/or tomorrow as well.