A natural flush, is of utmost importance.
I just hate it when my dog traps three in a row, and then when one finally gets airborne, he breaks like a glass rod.
This should be interesting. I hope it ends up a beneficial program for all breeds. What I don't like is the "priority" entries depending on who is putting on the tests. This seems like a real easy way to make people angry. Are the spaniel clubs going to be able to put on a retriever hunt test but only let spaniels enter? How are they going to pick gunners for these upland flushing tests if a retriever club is putting them on? For a spaniel field trial the gunners have to have taken a gunning seminar and are then chosen by the gun captain. Being asked to gun is considered an "honor" and the gunning is taken very seriously because it can affect the outcome of the trial and shooting birds in front of flushing dogs is inherently more dangerous than whacking a duck out of a slingshot. Our club uses the same gunners for our field trials and hunt tests because we know they are competent and safe. The retriever people do have alot to offer the spaniel people on teaching a dog to run blinds and hopefully over time this segment of an upland flushing test will improve. I can tell you all right now no launchers, metal cages or other bird boxes will be used at any of my club's tests. I am the chairman for the fall hunt test for the English Springer Spaniel Club of Central Kansas. Our field trials and hunt tests are held in Spivey, KS. I plan on doing everything in my power to make our hunt test open to all eligible breeds, so I look forward to seeing some of you at our next event.
Several years back I trained with one of the few American Cocker breeders who breeds and titles hunting Am. Cockers. Funnest little dogs to watch working the cover and hauling in a bird as big as them. The level of control these little flushers had would put to shame many master level retrievers that I've watched at Hunt Tests over the years. I would love to run a Lab along side them and look forward to this new opportunity to do so.
A note on the AKC Spaniel tests. They are much stricter on the flushing portion of the test than HRC. You cannot encourage your dog to go in and flush if the dog is pointing. You cannot encourage your dog to quarter; the judges expect the dog to hunt naturally with minimum handling. As others have said, the judges judge each breed's flush differently, according to the printed working style of the breed; for example, our American Water Spaniels have a flash point and are judged accordingly.
In SH and MH the dog is required to do a "hunt dead", where the dog is expected to go out and find a bird it didn't see fall and there is no ribbon to let the handler know where it is either (the judge will tell you it's between that bush and the stump 20 yards away). It's similar to a blind, but the Spaniel judges don't like you handling...they want your dog to go out and just use his nose to find the bird. I've always handled like a blind and passed, but the judges don't like it.
There is a short single water retrieve for each level...20, 40, and 50 yards I believe. Master has a water blind of about 40 yards. The judges are not too strict on whistle and cast refusals, like a Retriever judge, as long as the dog comes back with the bird. Upland birds are used on all the water work.
The Spaniel tests also have an "advanced" title for each level after you have recieved a JH, SH, or MH. For example, Gumbo has a MHA, which means that he has passed 5 additional Master tests after he got his Master title. These 5 tests must have an average score of 8 (instead of the 7 normally required to pass). You can get a JHA, and a SHA if your dog can't do Master work.
Hope this helps the Retriever folks. The Spaniel tests are pretty fun.
Good to see that the retrievers are getting their due credit in the uplands. My pup will be upland hunting 90% of the time, same as my other lab.
This is very exciting! About how long are you in the field with your dog? Can someone give a brief outline description of a test?
Don't worry, I will go watch one to see what they're like, but curious about the basic set-up and how long is a turn at bat?
Jennifer, the amount of time you are in the field is dependent on how long it takes your dog to find and flush 2 birds. If you have a very fast dog, and no traps, you can be in and out very quickly. I once ran a test in Virginia with Gumbo where he was done with 2 flushes and 2 retrieves in less than a minute, but that is certainly not the norm. If you have a dog that is good at trapping birds, you can be in the field a while, as the judges want to see 2 flushes (usually) and at least 1 retrieve. Often, if the gunners are poor and no bird is killed, the judges will throw a dead bird for your dog.
Sometimes, the field is short, less than 100 yards where everyone runs from the same line, and at other tests, the fields may be very long with you and your dog following the working dog and judges so you'll begin immediately when the dog before you finishes his test; a moving line so to speak. There may be 4-5 different lines before they start back at the beginning. It mostly depends on what is available for grounds.
One other thing. I have run under judges that HATE traditional retriever whistles such as a Fox 40 (which I use) or Mega Whistles.........one even dropped us for using it once (she said it disturbed game...like shotguns don't??). Others don't care, since there is no mention of whistles in the rulebook. I suppose they will see many more whistles that aren't Acme 2 10 and 1/2's now. lol