Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2013 Winter Odyssey Part I

I returned last Saturday from a 2.5 week trip to North Central Florida. What a fabulous trip it was!

We (Sonic, Little, and I) left Ann Arbor on February 20, with a stop that night in Maryville, TN to stay with my friend Bonnie Hornfisher. We got back on the road at 9 AM the next morning, and after a somewhat interminable day of driving, arrived at the Red Roof Inn in Ocoee, FL.

On Friday, I met my friend Cheryl Knapp to train with her group at Wayne Gey's ranch, the mecca of field training in North Central Florida.

They had all started with some pattern blinds. I taught one of them to both girls, with mediocre results. The group was doing work that my girls weren't ready for, so I did some brief water pile work across the short leg of the Horseshoe pond. Then I joined the group on the Big Pond, and the girls got to do 2 water marks. The 2nd was probably the longest either had ever done, which was probably not the smartest thing I could do during their first swim of the year, but they both did fine.

The next two days were spent attending Mitch White's Water Workshop. I worked on Water Force both days with Sonic. Mitch has changed how he does it, using a peninsula, so it was great timing, since it was the next logical step for Sonic.
On her way.

I'm on the end of the peninsula doing an early send.

Back at the base line, racing down the peninsula.

I did a bit of training after the seminar, since Little hadn't done anything all day, and Sonic not much.
The next morning, Little started off with Mitch's Casting Over into Water drill, which she did very nicely. I love the photo below - the intensity, the rippling muscles of her shoulders, and how nicely she is leaving from under my still hand.
Little launching towards a pile of bumpers.

Little also did some swim-by work, which went remarkably well, since we'd done almost none of it when in Tennessee last November.

On Monday, I did a brief session of disciplined casting - Sonic did well, Little lousy. Then I worked o water force with Sonic at a different pond, and water whistle sit work for both. Little's are looking very nice. She's getting the idea of treading water and gives me nice focus. Sonic hasn't done very many before, but I'm pleased with what she gave me that day.

I spent lunchtime at a nearby Chevy dealer, getting the strut for the back hatch of the Burb replaced. It had failed on Friday, fortunately in a somewhat gradual way. I was glad that my crates have doors on both ends, so I could get the girls out the front instead of chancing having the hatch slam done on the dogs or me.

In the afternoon, I did the cast over into water drill with Sonic and swim-by work with Little, then hauled all 4 launchers out to see which would work (last time I tried, not all worked). The #1 remote is at home, since it wouldn't take a charge. All the launchers did fire, but took some swapping around of remotes. I also worked mannerly walking with me to the holding blind (I had the Burb parked out near the launchers) and some holding blind control with launchers honking. Little is much more willing to heel with me when cookies are a possibility.

Tuesday: It was a rainy morning, but given we were training water, the girls didn't mind. Started with land disciplined casting again. Little isn't as good at it as Sonic, but it was much better than Monday. Swim-by work with Little in the horse shoe pond (a bit smaller than the one we used yesterday) - that went quite well - she seems to get that after picking up a side bumper, she will be getting back in - and a fine, hard-charging water force/pile session for Sonic. Then I did some 'Send Back' marks. I left the dog at the line, walked out and threw a mark, released her from out there, had her deliver to me, then sent her back to the line (marked with a bucket and two white stakes) and blew a whistle sit when she got there. Then I'd walk to a new location and repeat. While neither girl simply lined back to the base-line in one try, it did go better than the last time I tried it. I finally used the starter pistol for the first time that I got back in December. It added some extra excitement. I finished the morning with 6 white bucket site blinds, the 1st 3 with slots through trees, the last 3 longer blinds. We headed back to the motel and worked on my website and escaped the rain.

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