Teach Me About Field Trials

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Teach Me About Field Trials

Postby msnider » Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:53 am

Hello All,

I am a complete novice when it comes to hunting and field trials. Can someone tell me exactly how a field trial works and how you acquire your points toward a field championship? Also, how do hunt tests work and how do you acquire your title? Thanks!

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Postby CJ » Wed Oct 13, 2004 10:11 am

AGHHHHHHH I had this about ½ way done and it got whipped out….. here goes again….

Field trials and hunt tests are not quite as different as day and night, but its pretty close… first field trials.
FT’s are split into different “stakesâ€￾. Stakes are categories divided into eligible age groups, dog type, and handler status. This would be Puppy, Derby, All age, and Gun Dog (with open and amateur for the handler status).
Soo… Puppy, puppy is 6mo-15mo old on the day of the event. Puppy looks for the dog to cover some ground in a manner that would/should produce a bird find. Puppy is run for 20-30min.
Derby is 6mo-24mo on the day of the event, similar things looked for/judged on, but with more focus (stronger run, they dog has to point, more stylish in working, ect…). Derby is also run between 20-30min.
Then there is the big separation (or at least there should be… used to be) and that is between all age and gun dog. Both are 6mo.-unlimitted age cap, and run between 30-60min. All age are generally BIG running dogs. Oh.. here’s a good place to mention handling…. You can walk at any FT, but you can only ride (horse back) at FT’s the do not exclusively state “walking FT onlyâ€￾. Soo… back to all age.. these are dogs that you’ll want to be on horse back for and have a scout. Scouts are like a handlers assistant that rides out in front of the handler to watch for the dog as they go into heavy cover, trees/brush, or just out of line of sight/range of sight. They can not (scouts that is) command or handle the dog and the dog shouldn’t try to hunt “forâ€￾ them. They need to keep a strong pace throughout the brace and need to point with style. Gun dog is (supposed to be) a closer working (more to what the Britt is historically known to be) but not a “boot lickerâ€￾. They generally have similar standards to the all age (except the range) but are expected to honor/back their brace mates point if the situation arises.
Then… to add to this… there are retrieving and non-retrieving stakes. When you do see them, they’re usually in the gun dog stakes (sometimes in all age, but not often).
On top of all this… there’s open and amateur. All of the above can/generally do have two “flavorsâ€￾. Amateur is for handlers that have not been paid to train a dog or handle a dog in a FT. Open is for anyone (pro & amateurs).
Soo… to get titles… there are FC & AFC (AFC being an amateur field champ). You need 10 points to get a title. 2 can be from puppy, 2 more can be from derby, and the rest have to be from adult (all age or gun dog) stakes… and… 3 of the remaining 6 (all 3 from one placement) of them need to be from an exclusively Britt event.
With FT’s, they are dog vs. dog events :roll: , so there is only one winner (max… but there actually doesn’t have to be any winner at all if none of them perform to the judges liking :evil: & the general things that are spelled out in the AKC rules). There can be up to 1st – 5th place. The number of places and points awarded for those places are determined by a predetermined matrix put out by AKC each year for each region (some regions have more events and/or more dogs attending than others, so this kind of levels the playing field).
That’s the quick and dirty on FT’s (not by any stretch exhaustive… just a quick outline)
I've got to run right now, but I'll drop another post later today about hunt test (they're my preference in field events :D ).
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Postby CJ » Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:44 pm

Soo… on to hunt tests. Hunt test titles go from JH (jr.) to SH (sr.) to MH (master). The format is dog vs. a standard of performance rather than dog vs. dog. Soo… any dog that meets the minimum standard requirements gets a “legâ€￾ towards the title they are striving for. For JH, you need 4 qualifying scores/legs to obtain that title. For SH it’s 5 (or…. 4 if the dog already has a JH title). For MH its 6 (or 5 if they have a SH title). The categories that are judged for each of the levels are:
Hunting: this is how the dog hunts… it should hunt in the front two quarters of the handler (never behind him), with forward movement and good pace, independent of the handler (not needing to be told hunt here or there or… continuously told to “find the birdâ€￾ ect…). Also, the range at which the dogs hunt is important… it should be hunting in gun range, not ¼ mile +, off in the distance (as is the case with FT all age dogs).
Bird Finding: This is pretty much what it says… can/does the dog find birds…. Also, how they find it. Do they putz around in open areas sniffing the air where no bird could be, or do they move quickly across open areas to likely cover, and do they use the wind to their advantage
Pointing: When they find a bird, do they point? Pointing is an obvious must for a Britt. With this, to they hold intensely and/or stylishly
Trainability: Does the dog handle/listen to the handler? And how does it respond to the gun shot.
**** The above 4 categories are for all levels with the standard of performance expected increasing with each level or competition (ie. a JH dog would be expected to hold a point for about 5 seconds where a SH dog has to hold until the bird is flushed and shot, & a master would be required to hold indefinitely/until released… even after the bird is shot & down). The below 2 categories are only for SH & MH*****
Backing/Honoring: Does the dog stop at the sight of another dog on point and “honorâ€￾ that dogs point? This should happen during the course of the normal test in “the bird fieldâ€￾, but if it does not, the dog can be called back after the test to demonstrate this in a “set upâ€￾ scenario.
Retrieving: Does the dog go out, find, collect, and bring back (as direct a line as possible) the shot bird (dead or wounded) and deliver it to the handler “to handâ€￾? In SH, the handler can take one step towards the dog retrieving, but it’s not advisable, and in MH it must be directly to hand. Same as the backing… if not done during the test, they can be called back to demonstrate…. But… this would only happen in the case that the bird was not shot because of an unsafe situation or the gunner missed the bird. If they don’t retrieve because they did not find & produce a bird for flush & shot…. They can’t be
called back.
Out of these 4 or 6 catagories… they are judged on a 0-10 scale. 0 for not demonstrated, and 10 for perfectly demonstrated. A 0 in any category disqualifies the dog from that test. An average of 7 is required for that leg to be a qualifying score, with no category being below 5.
Soo… that’s the judging, the way it shakes out is generally the JH is the shortest of the tests…. Around 30 min total and the SH & MH being longer. They dogs are braced as in FT’s (two dogs at a time), they generally run a “back field courseâ€￾ that does not have birds “plantedâ€￾/liberated on it, but they are expected to hunt as if it were… this is generally where the trainability & hunting are scored…. Then they move into (directly from the back field) the “bird fieldâ€￾. This is an area which live game birds have been “plantedâ€￾ and which the dogs really do their thing. The bird field has finite boundaries which are clearly marked. The dog must find a bird inside this area to score. It is also a measure of their hunting because it shows if they are hunting for the handler (in front of him/her) inside the bird field. This is also a part that the handler can blow it for the dog if they don’t pay attention to the boundaries and position themselves in such a place as the dog can/does hunt outside the bird field and goes birdless because of it.
In Hunt tests birds are shot for SH & MH by designated shooters/gunners, but the handler is expected to carry an empty break action gun to simulate shooting for the dog. In JH, the handler carries a blank pistol and blanks the bird as it flushes to simulate the shotgun shot on the bird (needed to see if the dog is gun shy).
Soo… that’s my little bit about hunt tests... I’ve tried to keep my bias out of the explanations but I’m sure I wasn’t completely successful. I’m very partial to hunt tests. I can appreciate FT’s, but really don’t like the emphasis on ranginess that now dominates the trials and (in my less than humble opinion) has made the Britt (due to breeding for the trials) into a longer ranging dog than they were historically, and because of the reduced emphasis on real hunting scenarios (shooting & retrieving). But… that’s a whole other deal. Just wanted to mention it so you can know where I’m coming from and can better sift through what ever bias I’ve injected into the two. Hope this helps.
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