Mastering the Blind: part 2
By David Krassler
Last month we reviewed
the "baseball" concept, or
as many know it, "three-handed casting." This month
I will go through the technical procedure that I use for "lining"
As I mentioned last month, the lining drills may be taught at
the same time you are teaching three-handed casting. However
these drills must be introduced separately and conducted in a
different location. Keep in mind that we are constructing a puzzle.
For now, we are only crafting the pieces and are not quite ready
to put any of the pieces together. Once the pieces are established,
we will be able to join them and form a meaningful picture.
Proper lining is the initial stage in directing your spaniel
to travel in the general direction of the downed bird. This procedure
is used in "blind retrieve" scenarios meaning
the dog is asked to retrieve a bird that he did not see fall.
Sometimes you will line the dog directly to the fall. In some
instances you may decide to line your spaniel slightly off the
fallen bird to allow your spaniel's nose to take advantage of
Oh yes, wind direction is very important! There are three key
points to remember. First, spaniels sent in a crosswind will
tend to fade with wind as they continue their line. Naturally,
the longer the line, the more pronounced the drifting would be.
Second, going into the wind often leads to short retrieves due
to the presence of downwind scent. If a spaniel will ever come
up short on a blind, it will probably happen when making a retrieve
into the wind. Finally put the wind at your back and it will
help to drive the spaniel deep on its line! Keep these wind factors
in mind as you advance through the lining drills. Use the wind
to your advantage and keep things simple for your spaniel in
the beginning stages.
First, you must locate a field that is fairly flat with few hazards
or distractions. I view the optimal size as at least two hundred
yards wide and the same distance in length. Ideally you will
be able to keep things set up and return to this area daily while
you are teaching this drill. The cover should be very minimal
in the beginning stage. We want our spaniel to succeed and gain
confidence as he learns these new tasks. Gradually increase the
cover height as the spaniel builds confidence. At my kennel,
we typically will mow a field and let it grow in while we are
teaching pattern blinds. The increase in cover is gradual, and
the dog slowly learns to trust your directions.
Next, find the center of the field and mark it. I use a broom
handle that has one end shaped into a point, pushing the pointed
end into the ground. This will mark the starting point that all
your lining pattern drills will begin from. Now with the help
of some surveyors' flags, place four flags approximately 50 to
60 yards away from the center point, and space them 90% apart
from each other. Initially, we do not want to make the lines
too far away. We are creating a circle and dividing it into for
equal parts or lines to teach your spaniel the basics of pattern
blinds. This will help in teaching the spaniel to carry a straight
line in all different wind directions.
This beginning stage of teaching a dog to line is crucial! This
is where we will set the dog's attitude on taking a line and
running a blind retrieve. Either the dog will have enthusiasm,
confidence and desire upon taking the line for a blind, or you
could cause resentfulness and an unenthusiastic attitude towards
lining and the blind retrieve. Be patient and teach the dog to
have confidence in its line and that there is a bird out there