Saturday, March 28, 2009

Field work: those darned overs

We've done field training three times this week. On Thursday, we did a T drill at a local soccer field. I stretched Devon out to 80 yards for the back pile and 40 yards on center for the side piles. On the one side (left over) the field went up a hill about 2 feet to a road. I didn't think it would be a problem for the side pile to be there; in fact I thought it would help Devon see the pile. I was wrong.

Devon's back piles and handling to them was lovely. Her whistle sits were also nice. She did well on the right over pile, but she struggled with that left over pile. I can only think it was the height. Devon also bows into me on her overs. Between bowing into me and the height, she didn't see the pile. I identified the pile and she got it. Then I sent her right back to it without an ID and she missed it. 

After 23 bumpers, I let it go with her getting in when it was identified for her. I was frustrated; not at Devon, but that I set her up to fail. Devon's T drill last week had been flawless, and I had not anticipated her struggling. 

On Friday, I set four bumpers at a permanent blind we used last fall. I have not run any lining drills with her this spring, so it may not have been fair for me to run this with her. The good news is she handled back to the permanent blind! The first time she one whistled it, and the next two times it was two whistles (with overs each time). I think she finally lined it on the forth try. Guess we need to do some lining drills!

Today, I went to a different location to see if we could get more luck on that T drill. I set the back pile at 80 yards, with the side piles at 30 yards on center. However, Devon wasn't comfortable in this location. I'm not sure if there were deer in the adjacent field or she was air scenting dogs at a nearby house. There was a loose tarp on some equipment (we were on the football practice field for a local school) that kept flapping in the wind. There was a weather front that was due to come through today, and the wind was just starting to kick up.

So my hopes of a better day didn't start well. Devon did her job, but she wasn't as upbeat as usual. I did get her spirits up and got her moving as we went through the work. I identified the left over pile for her and she did well. I sent her back and she repeated it nicely. I sent her to the right over pile and she did well. However, later when I thought I'd give her an easy over to the right, she came in on me. Since she failed, she didn't like that at all and then stopped sitting on her whistle. She did go back to the right pile without an ID, but I walked with her nearly the whole way.

We managed to hack through the drill with about 20 bumpers. Because we're also working the back pile at least once and sometimes three times between each over pile she's getting a lot of bumpers. Her right and left back look fantastic and the 80 yard distance doesn't seem to bother her.

I'm going to give her a break from field tomorrow, then do some lining drills on our next day of field work. The next time we work handling, I'm going to put the overs back in isolation. Isolating and working on the problem skill is what I would normally do in training, and I think the failures with the over piles are affecting her confidence on the rest of the work (sits and back piles). I'm also going to do some research in my training guides to find another drill that might help with this over issue.

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