Being a Good Student - Judging
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Thread: Being a Good Student - Judging

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ted Shih's Avatar
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    Default Being a Good Student - Judging

    In a thread entitled “Derby Training,” Peter Balzer asked “What are some action items someone can take to improve their experience to begin judging?”

    My thoughts follow. I hope others chime in:


    Book Studies
    1. Read the Rule Book. How can you judge a stake if you don’t know the rules?
    2. Read the Blue Book “Retriever Field Trial Judging - A Manual.” Some of the best people in the sport worked on preparing the Manual.
    3. Read the Articles in Retrievers Online on Judging: Dennis Voigt, Terry Rotschafer and I wrote a series of articles on judging.
    4. Read the series of articles in the Retriever News on the “Design and Construction of Field Trial Marks.”


    Field Studies
    A great deal can be accomplished through careful observation. A person who studies dog behavior in training and in competition, learns what dogs like to do and what they do not. A good student can learn a great deal about bird placement simply by watching dogs in training and in competition. A good student can similarly learn what impact terrain, wind, and other factors have on a dog’s ability to run straight on a blind.

    There is a danger in observing only dogs in training situations, as that may lead to a skewed perspective. In training we focus on teaching dogs the behaviors we desire (such as running a straight line to the area of the fall), where as in competition we should be focusing on the end result of that training (such as a good mark, regardless of the path taken to the area of the fall). The two often converge, but not always, and problems result when judges evaluate performance by the same standards that they employ in training.


    To be truly valuable, observation in competition must extend through four series, so that the watcher can see dogs perform in both land and water marks, and in both land and water blinds. It is hard to gain a sense of relative performance and placements without seeing a group of dogs from start to finish. In this respect, I agree with the rule change which only permits those individuals who have run at least 15 All Age Stakes and obtained at least one JAM to judge in the All Age Stakes. So to some extent, I subscribe to the theory that to judge dogs, you must compete with them in the stake you are judging.


    Training
    If you train your own dogs, when you set up a test give thought to:
    a) What you are trying to teach
    b) How the set-ups emphasize that for the dog
    c) Whether at the end of the day, your test accomplished what you wanted it to do.


    If a pro trains your dogs, ask the pro what he/she is trying to teach.
    Watch the dogs ... don’t look at your phone ... watch the dogs and see how good you are at predicting dog behavior in the field. Learn through observation how terrain, wind, and gun placement influence dog behavior.
    Competition does not build character - It reveals it.

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    Great post, looking forward to reading the many many replies!
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    Consistency in callbacks and time management are also some important attributes in a judge.

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    Senior Member Ted Shih's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kajun Kamakazi View Post
    Consistency in callbacks and time management are also some important attributes in a judge.
    ​Tips on consistency in callbacks and time management?
    Competition does not build character - It reveals it.

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    Senior Member Ron in Portland's Avatar
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    I have very limited experience with field trials, so cannot speak from a field trial perspective, but certainly agree with the training comments, which I think apply to hunt test training as well (What are you trying to do? How well are you doing it? How well did you accomplish it?).

    Spent about 10+ hours last weekend shooting flyers for a hunt test, and would add that another great place to gain perspective on factors that can influence dogs is in a gun station at a test.

    When out in the field during a test, you can see close up how factors are influencing dogs, especially after watching 30 or more dogs come through. Seeing the test from the other end, and then watching for awhile from the gallery, adds to perspective gained on a set up. Out in the field, you are cognizant of when wind changes, or sun angle changes, and how it affects the dogs. These are good things to know, and consider, when you're judging from 100, or 300, yards away.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Shih View Post
    ​Tips on consistency in callbacks and time management?
    One thing I loathe as a competitor is inconsistent callbacks for comparative work. If our dogs do the same thing and both don’t get called back, even though we thought we should’ve, then I can understand that; there was just something the judge(s) saw and didn’t like.

    But when our dogs do the same thing, and you get called back but I don’t, that aggravates me. I don’t know what the judges want or don’t want and feel like I’ve been pencil whipped to get the dogs down to a certain number.

    Just my opinion, you may disagree completely, Ted.

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    Senior Member Ted Shih's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kajun Kamakazi View Post
    One thing I loathe as a competitor is inconsistent callbacks for comparative work. If our dogs do the same thing and both don’t get called back, even though we thought we should’ve, then I can understand that; there was just something the judge(s) saw and didn’t like.

    But when our dogs do the same thing, and you get called back but I don’t, that aggravates me. I don’t know what the judges want or don’t want and feel like I’ve been pencil whipped to get the dogs down to a certain number.

    Just my opinion, you may disagree completely, Ted.
    I don't disagree.

    But, the questions are:

    a) Why do inconsistent callbacks happen?
    b) What concrete advice do you give to judges to prevent inconsistent callbacks?

    I don't think it does much good to bitch about something without providing - if possible - a cure.
    I have my own ideas on this, but don't want to monopolize the conversation.

    In addition, I would often times what appear to be inconsistent callbacks are not. For example, Dog A crushes Land Marks. Dog B does poorly on LM. Dog A and B both have similar - and poor - Land Blinds. Dog A is carried to WB. Dog B is not. Some people in the gallery might call this an inconsistent callback. But, I don't think it is.

    Ted
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    Senior Member swliszka's Avatar
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    He who makes the best diagrams with proper notes should win the dog evaluation based on measurable performance. The weakness is usually one or more judges have no experience in defending their evaluations. Dog loses. We surrender ourselves to judgement and desire competency. Any competitive athlete understands subjective judgement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swliszka View Post
    He who makes the best diagrams with proper notes should win the dog evaluation based on measurable performance. The weakness is usually one or more judges have no experience in defending their evaluations. Dog loses. We surrender ourselves to judgement and desire competency. Any competitive athlete understands subjective judgement.
    a disturbing trend in Field Trials is having a senior judge with numerous experience running/judging all age stakes paired with a novice judge who serves as nothing more of a rubber stamp and clipboard carrier

    IMO its a great idea for the change to 15 AA stakes run as long as BOTH judges meet that criteria, not one where the cumulative number of judging assignments is carried by one judge
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    Both judges should discuss in advance what they are looking for based on the Rules book recommendations.Marking is of primary importance. Don't paint yourself into a corner with being nice in the first series for AA stakes. Make them tough but fair. No tricks. The expectation that 50% will take themselves out in the first series. That helps with time management too. Change setup ASAP if the wind change unexpectedly and gives the marks away.Make blinds important but not primary. The hope would be 30% attrition for each blind series. Use the factors. Agree to what would be a failure beforehand. Have instructions(if needed) in the last holding blind and point them out with the test dog. Do the same for minor stakes but set up difficulty based on the field and let them play as long as possible. Green ribbons are cheap but can make a persons day as long as the dogs deserve them.
    I would love to be able to judge with Ted or others of that experience.

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