Wow -- long time since I've added anything. Between travel and work I have not done anything terribly progressive with Bally's field training. We trialed and he earned his SH (and JH) back to back weekends in August, then had the Golden National to tackle in September. Now we're back home with GREAT weather and can now use the water at Lazy J again. Our fall field trial was this past weekend meaning any gators still hanging around, are not any more.
My big push this "semester" with Bally is teaching him to hold good lines on marks and blinds in the water. Start to see pictures.
I'm starting with what I think is the most obvious picture, and that is holding a line past a point. Once he gets this I want to move on to down the shore. Improving on both angle entries/exits and holding the line.
The past few sessions we have worked on holding a line past a point in the water, with mixed results. Sometimes I think he gets it, other times he completely falls for it and goes to touch ground on the point.
Yesterday I tried handling (he easily takes a cast off and away from the point), but that didn't seem to get the message across. It was only when I called him back when he took the wrong line that his behavior changed. We did a series of singles where the correct line was about 8-10 feet off a prominent, rather obvious point. The gunner stood even with the point on the back shore and threw away from the point (all the throws happened to be right to left, as all the points came from the right shore). There was a strong wind working in concert with the suction of the points, blowing in toward the points. On all three marks he only held the correct line after being re-called when he took a wrong line, then repeating the throw & send. On the last one he STILL swam straight for the end of the point, I let him get out on the point, sat him, and burned on a high two. Recall, rethrow, resend, and he really fought the wind and held the perfect line past the point to the bumper. I am LOATHE to do a lot of handling and/or recalling on marks but I don't know how else to get him to understand what I want. In retrospect I think I need to do a better job showing him where to go by throwing the first mark along the correct path but just off the point. It was too windy to do that yesterday, the bumper would have floated in to the point. This is all a philosophical debate in my head, I think it will take trial and error.
Today I trained by myself and set up three blinds where again the correct path was 8-10 feet past an obvious point. Three different blinds, all the same concept. The first blind, Bally headed straight for the point, one cast got him back on the right path and he followed it. The next blind he took the water a little fat and put himself farther away from the point, rather than handle into the point I let him carry it, and he lined it. Third blind was past the same point he got corrected on yesterday, but at a different angle. This time, I sent him, he initially was headed toward the end of the point, then put his shoulder into the wind and very obviously made an effort to go past the point!!!!! I don't see how that could have been an accident. I was amazed, and really excited
I also set up three long land blinds, in the front field that was just mowed short and now has about a billion hay bales in it. Blinds were probably 150, 300, 150. Bally did a nice job, one whistling one of them, and probably 3-5 whistles for the others.
Good to be back training!!!!