I agree that we should encourage new people to handle their dogs. When I see new folks, I do encourage them. I just don't see many new people at Trials.
I think that some pros do encourage their clients to run their dogs.
My pro Cherylon Loveland does not compete, so if I want my dogs to be run, it is up to me.
When my dogs were with Dave Rorem for the winters, Dave was very supportive of my efforts to run my dogs in the Open, as well as the Am.
I have seen a number of Kenny Trott's clients run their dogs in the minors and the Amateur, which would lead me to believe that Kenny is encouraging their participation.
I judged the Open at Swamp Dog this fall, and I know that Randy Bohn was helping his clients run their dogs in the Open
I am sure that there are other pros, who encourage their clients to run their dogs, too.
First, my general observations are as follows (they are my observations, if you want do disagree, feel free to do so, but I am not going to get into a debate about whether they are accurate or not):
- As a practical matter, although the number of entries seems to be relatively constant, the number of owners who handle their dogs seems to be decreasing.
- The number of owners who train their dog and handle them in competition seems to be decreasing as well.
- The numbers of amateurs who compete with their dogs are insufficient to service the numbers of trials and stakes across the country.
Second, if pros were allowed to judge, it would increase the judging pool. However,
- I don't think that there is sufficient political support to authorize pros to judge
- Even if pros could judge, I doubt that there are sufficient numbers of pros to satisfy the short fall
Third, although as a general matter, I believe that it is helpful to a judge to have experience training a dog and competing with a dog, I have run under my share of judges who did both and were mediocre judges at best.
The key in becoming a better trainer, handler, or judge - first and foremost is desire and willingness to learn. Some have it, some do not. I have found over the years in this sport - as in life - that it is very difficult to make an adult a good student. By the time a person reaches adulthood, they are either a good student or are not.
Accordingly, in field trials - as in life - I will invest time in someone who I view to be a good student; I will ignore someone who I view to a poor student. Time is the big commodity in my life, and I am very careful where I invest it.