Long journey indeed. For many a big part of their lifetime.
Long journey indeed. For many a big part of their lifetime.
"If you run Field Trials, you learn to swallow your disappointment quickly."
"Field trials are not a game for good dogs. They're for great dogs with great training." E. Graham
One of my most remembered ribbons...JAM in a club fun trial derby, many years ago, Flat River, Mi.
Dog failed every test, but they gave us that tiny, little green ribbon.
Hook, line, and sinker...
We have had FCs, and AFCs. Still pleased when a young dog does well, and gets QAA.
It is not easy.
Charlotte Kaiser: " The Problem Lies In The Talent."
I run both hunt tests and field trials. I have two MHs and both are QAA. I started out 11 years ago with a dog with an empty pedigree. I enjoyed playing the games even though my odds of winning a FT are slim to none. I don't know many other sports where your competition wishes you the best of luck when you go to the line. The people in the games are great.
My oldest dog was down to the last bird 5or 6 times in an open and RJ'd and JAMed in an amateurs. He also has 26 master passes. He qualified for the Master 3times and passed one. For me it has been a great ride.
I don't want to feed an ugly dog!
It's interesting to see the passion brought out by the threads on hunting vs HTs vs FTs, including "Impossible vs Difficult."
I got my first Lab in 1983 about the same time that NAHRA founded the first organized hunt tests. At that time there was a lot of harsh rhetoric pro and con. Some of it was probably needed to start a new game, but over years since, hunters have been able to learn a lot about training from the best modern FT trainers. I see that as the most positive outcome of the "split."
If you're starting out as a trainer, try to work with some experienced folks. Many folks, like Nancy, who started in HTs "moved up" to FTs, quite a large number with notable success. On a smaller scale, I have helped a number of hunters train their dogs to the "working retriever" level and really enjoyed seeing them go afield with a level of training they didn't know existed when they got that new pup. (And there's more to learn in the field beyond any of the games.)
I started running local (un-licensed) FTs in 1984 and was active until the State program fell apart in the mid 1990's. I kept helping at the licensed trials for another decade. I know lots of great people, pro and am, and wish them well. For more than a decade I would drive 250 miles and work all day to watch the "top dogs" run the Mid-Iowa licensed trial and help my friends put on their game. But for me, some aspects of "competition" spoil FTs. I think the main difference between FTs & HTs is competition. If you like competition - that's your game.
I joined the NAHRA/AKC HT program in late 1984 and mainly stuck with NAHRA after they split in 1985. Over the years I've had MHRs, MH, and HRCH-UH's. I think all the titles are meaningless to the dogs, but we had a good time together working on the "little titles" we got (and the Qual greenies that mean just as much or little to me. My early State Puppy Champion and State Derby Champion trophies meant as much at the time.)
My first goal was to have a well trained hunting dog, but the games taught me enough about training, that I spend much more time playing with my dogs than hunting. I enjoy it and understand why many people would transition into the more technical aspects of FT training as they and their dogs move beyond the basics. That's a path some people will find rewarding, but I hope HT programs can resist the urge to become too "competitive" and leave that to FTs, mostly so beginners like I was in 1983 get a start.
Since NAHRA has dwindled in our region, I have moved back more toward my original goals in training. Trailing is one of the things I value most in a hunting retriever and the dogs and I like training on it. It's not an event that is easy to make competitive. Since the hunting seasons ended, I have been running blind retrieves in my switchgrass. You can't do this in any of the games because you get paths that change the test for later dogs. (Even with light cover, the tests change, just not as much. With only 3, switchgrass changes noticeably from 1 to 3.) I worked a lot on upland before the seasons. I don't think any of the retriever games have gotten upland right and have run a lot of them in HRC and NAHRA.
I may go back to running some of the games, and I may try to find a pro to TRY to train ME a little, but, for me, working with my dogs is the main thing. And a day like last January 10th when the 4 of us flushed 8 of the few remaining pheasants in Iowa is my "National Win."
So to the OP and lurkers, I repeat the earlier advice: try them all - it's the only way to see what YOU like. And enjoy the dogs. Just keep YOUR goals clear and learn to treat the dogs fairly. You can learn a lot from experienced trainers in any of the games and the good FT trainers have the most refined methods for accomplishing their goals.
You can see my pooches at http://homepage.math.uiowa.edu/~stro...hola_Labs.html
Another question...what is a JAM??? I've been seeing this. For instance the sire of a pup I just put a deposit on is named "Homer" and a blog on the site says:
"Homers pup 'Lu' ran 4 derbies and got a jam, a 3rd and a 2nd. She was qualified all age before turning 2 on her second attempt with a win. A few months later she jammed her first amateur, and a few weeks later earned a reserve jam."
I was describing a typical all age trial, derbies tend to be a bit more generous in call backs and JAMs. Regarding the QAA status, a very good dog will usually achieve it by age three, some precocious dogs do it while still in the derby and some never make it. Then the step up to all age is a very big step. It would be impressive for a young dog to finish all age test right off the bat.
Last edited by John Robinson; 01-17-2014 at 05:12 PM.
^^^ Thanks for breaking it down. Had no idea what it meant!