The second set-up we ran last Saturday was to the left side of the field. It was a similar set-up to the one the dogs ran on the right side of the field. The Master level dogs watched a mark but did not retrieve it immediately, instead they ran a closer blind off to the left, then retrieved the mark, then ran a long blind to the far left hand corner of the field.
As an added challenge the handlers had to try to cast the dogs through two trees in order to get to the Blind #1. Sometimes the correct line to a blind will be through obstacles, like trees, (may be called a “key-hole blind”). It is a good idea to practice this now and again.
Another challenge to this set-up was that to get to Blind #3, the dogs had to run very near the area where they picked up the mark (Mark #2). Dogs are taught not to go back to an old fall so some tried to avoid the area of the mark and go around it.
Also, if you remember, the first set up to the right of the field had a tree line on the edges which acted as a boundary for the dogs. The left side of the field has no such tree line and many dogs (including ours) ended up past Blind #1 and in the adjoining field. Once in the field, it was difficult to get them out of it and back to the blind.
I have been at tests where I have seen a blind set to the edge of a field. Dogs got right to the blind but for some reason they got pulled into the field and the handler couldn’t get them out and back to the blind. This is a good thing to train, but unfortunately we have limited access to training spots with adjoining fields.
Storm had a lot of trouble with this set-up. She took a bad initial line, probably because she wanted the bumper (Mark #2) laying out there and visible in the field. It was also partly her handler’s fault because he had her sitting too close to the snow bank on the edge of the field and it did not allow him space to realign her. Lesson learned.
But she did not get it even then. She kind of zigzagged all around it. Finally…
The mark was no problem for Storm.
Finally Storm had to run the long blind (Blind #3) at the far left corner of the field. This one gave her a lot of trouble. She was bound and determined to go back to the far right corner of the field where she picked up a blind in the previous set-up. As you can see, you can mess with the dog’s mind by setting up different scenarios in the same field. Our trainer sets up scenarios to challenge the dogs. You can bet that at tests both dog and handler will be challenged and you want to prepare as best you can.
If you run into issues, you hope it is during training. You just have to train through it and best to have a professional trainer standing right next to you to tell you the proper casts and corrections to make in order to have success. It is a valuable learning experience and we are very thankful that we have such a knowledgeable trainer to help us.
Some pictures, (greatly abridged):
Freighter had less trouble with this and I will have his pictures tomorrow.