It seems that we tend to talk about the negative aspects of judging and test setups more than we do the positive side of things. Well I wanted to tell everyone about the awesome experience I had this weekend. After an extrememly crushing test on Saturday (1 dog walked away with a ribbon) the handlers were pretty much licking their wounds on Sunday and the look of doom gloomed on everyone's faces. We watched the test setup on Sunday morning. The judges actually stood at the line, knelt down at the dog's view and had the BBs throw the test. One of the marks was impossible to see so the judge's moved it. It was a straight forward triple with a incorporated blind. The distances varied, but the terrain and wind caused a couple of dogs to go out. For the quartering and sit to flush, the judges had a nice field with good cover to hunt, when the dog "flushed" the bird, the majority of them flew nice and high and the judges allowed you to get the bird as if you were hunting (i.e. keep quartering if need be, send the dog, kick the thick brush to re-flush the bird...) We lost a dog for breaking. Then it was on to the water marks and blind. While they were setting it up, they were talking to the handlers explaining why they choose the marks they choose and what they were looking for. They had a really tight incorporated water blind and they began to discuss it amoung themselves how they would judge it if a dog had a big hunt on the go-to bird and stumbled across the location for the blind (it was not hot) and decided it was way too tight to keep the judging clean. They moved it just enough that there was a clear line for the blind, the opportunity for suction to the old fall but an opportunity for the handler to react to the dog's behavior. I was floored by the judging. The only dog's we lost were dog's that couldn't complete the test, had a true dog day and dog's that were pulled by there handlers. It was awesome. These judge's were very enjoyable to run under. No tricks. Straight forward tests with clear objectives. When the judges are like the ones we had Sunday it makes all the difference in the world. By no means were the tests easy either, the pucker factor was really high on the marks. For some reason the middle birds on both sets of triples was the most diificult for the dogs and handlers even though if you looked at the test you wouldn't of thought otherwise!
FOM - had fun this weekend!