What are Field Trials?
Field trials for Brittany's and other pointing breeds are competitive quail hunts where the handler of the dog either walks or handles the dog off horseback. The competing dog is judged based on its style, intellect, enthusiasm, obediance, and bird handling. The adult dogs that are entered in field trials are highly and intensly trained. A lot of time and preparation and continuing practice goes into making a field trial ready dog and a true champion. A field trial is a method of determining superior dogs by comparing the performances of a number of dogs in the field, under working conditions, and having objective third parties name the best performances as winners. Field trials are also public events, and so allow a number of people to view the dogs under fair circumstances. The trials are also reported and the wins recorded onto pedigrees so that accurate breeding decisions can be made.
The object of field trials is the promotion and development of the high-class bird dog. It is a means of enjoying the great out-of-door sport of bird hunting in the most aesthetic fashion. It aims to provide competition of the highest kind among bird dogs, to stimulate enthusiasm among owners, and to act as a practical guide for breeders by setting a high standard of performance.
In order to compete in field trials the dog must be AKC and/or Field Dog Stud Book Registered.
What Type of Performance Makes a Great Field Trial Dog?
The dog under consideration must have and display great bird sense.
He must show perfect work on both coveys and singles.
He must quickly determine between foot and body scent.
He must use his brain eyes and nose to the fullest advantage and hunt the likely places on the course.
He must posses speed, range, style, character, courage and stamina, and good manners, always.
He must hunt the birds and not the handler hunt the dog. No line or path runner is acceptable.
He must be well broken, and the better his manners the more clearly he proves his sound training.
Should he loose a little in class, as expressed in extreme speed and range he can make up for this, under fair judgment, in a single piece of superior bird work, or in sustained demonstration of general behavior.
He must be bold, snappy and spirited. His range must be to the front or to either side, but never behind.
He must be regularly and habitually pleasingly governable (tractable) and must keep uppermost in his mind the finding and pointing of birds for his handler.
Field Trial Stakes and Locations:
All stakes may either be Open or Amateur. Open stakes may be entered by both Professional handlers and Amateur handlers. Amateur stakes may only be entered by Amateur handlers. An Amateur handler is classified as a person who, during the period of two years preceding the trial has not accepted remuneration in any form for the training or the handling of a dog. For the purposes of this definition the word remuneration means payment in money, goods or services.
Brittany Club, AKC Pointing Breed Clubs, and American Field licensed field trails are held in nearly every state. Field trails are held September until May - even in the rain....
Field trials are broken up into different stakes that suit both the age and hunting style of the dog.
Puppy Stakes are limited to dogs age 6 months to 1 year. In order to win or receive placement in a puppy stake the puppy must show a strong desire to hunt, boldness, and initiative in covering ground and in searching likely cover for game birds. They should indicate the presence of game if the opportunity is presented. Puppies should show reasonable obedience to their handlers' commands, but should not be given additional credit for pointing staunchly. Each dog is judged on its actual performance as indicating its future as a high class bird dog.
Derby Stakes are limited to dogs between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. In order to win or receive placement in a derby stake the dog must show a keen desire to hunt, be bold and independent, have a fast, yet attractive, style of running, and demonstrate not only intelligence in seeking objectives but also the ability to find game. Derbies must establish point but no additional credit shall be given for steadiness to wing and shot. Derbies must show reasonable obedience to their handlers' command. Each dog is judged on its actual performance as indicating its future promise as a high class bird dog for Gun Dog or All-Age states. All placed dogs MUST establish point.
Gun Dog Stakes and Limited Gun Dog Stakes are entered by dogs who are steady to wing and shot (hold steady without movement during the flush of the bird and after the gun is shot and continues to hold until the handler encourages movement). A Gun Dog must give a finished performance and must be under its handler's control at all times. It must handle kindly, with a minimum of noise and hacking by the handler. A Gun Dog must show a keen desire to hunt, must have a bold and attractive style of running, and must demonstrate not only intelligence in quartering and in seeking objectives but also the ability to find game. The dog must hunt for its handler at all times at a suitable Gun Dog range, and should show or check in front of its handler frequently. It must cover adequate ground but never range out of sight for a length of time that would detract from its usefulness as a practical hunting dog. The dog must locate game, must point staunchly, and must be steady to wing and hot. Intelligent use of the wind and terrain in locating game, accurate nose, and style with intensity of point, are essential.
All-Age and Limited All-Age Stakes are entered by dogs who are steady to wing and shot. An All-Age dog must give a finished performance and must be under reasonable control of its handler. It must show a keen desire to hunt, must have a bold and attractive style of running, and must show independence in hunting. It must range well out in a forward moving pattern, seeking the most promising objectives, so as to locate any game on the course. Excessive line-casting and avoiding cover are extremely penalized. The dog must demonstrate its independent judgment in hunting the course, but must show a willingness to handle when called upon. The dog must find game, must point staunchly, and must be steady to wing and shot. Intelligent use of the wind and terrain in locating game, accurate nose, and style and intensity on point are essential.
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