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so if you teach your dog to sit on the flush/shot/fall with no whistle, you are way ahead of the curve - and can use that 'whistle' as backup. The dog isn't waiting to see if it's told to sit. It sits because it knows that is the only way to get the retrieve (if there is one)
yes, with enough repetition a lot of dogs sit automatically to flush. What you will see though a lot are dogs not wanting to engage and flush. Out of the failures it seems that it’s almost as common that they fail due to not flushing as it is to not sitting. You can tell some were probably burned off the bird in an attempt to get the correction on the flush….
 

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yes, with enough repetition a lot of dogs sit automatically to flush. What you will see though a lot are dogs not wanting to engage and flush. Out of the failures it seems that it’s almost as common that they fail due to not flushing as it is to not sitting. You can tell some were probably burned off the bird in an attempt to get the correction on the flush….
Unfortunately there are people that would rather burn than teach.
 

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yes, with enough repetition a lot of dogs sit automatically to flush. What you will see though a lot are dogs not wanting to engage and flush. Out of the failures it seems that it’s almost as common that they fail due to not flushing as it is to not sitting. You can tell some were probably burned off the bird in an attempt to get the correction on the flush….
Well that's just fair to the dog...... I agree that the upland portion needs to go. But I bet you'd get a lot of complaining that having UH title needs to be required to get the Grand title... How about one UH pass? There is probably more required in an upland pass than there is in passing the upland portion of the grand???
 

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I'll preface everything I'm going to say with "I love the grand"...so, now you know my perspective. Having said that, I've judged the last two. Grand judges must participate in the grand judges seminar prior to setting up a test. In neither seminar were we ever told to set up marks dogs couldn't see. Further, we were never instructed to be line manners nazis or any of those horror stories I've heard. We were asked to set up challenging, fair tests that can be ran as efficiently as possible and judged to a grand standard. After judging the same test for four days twice, among my observations are these points:

1. The time of the day is important (relates to lighting of the field)-sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes your the bug but lighting changes throughout the day. The grand committee surveys each site well ahead of the judges arrival and they choose a line that allows for maximum visibility.

2. If a dog cannot follow and mark off the end of the gun barrel, it has a huge uphill battle to fight. I'm not saying it can't be done, but Fido gives himself a huge advantage if he's been trained to mark off the gun.

3. Dogs who are loose on the line are most often the dogs who didn't see the marks.

4. Weather is a game changing factor. I've seen ten or more dogs in a row fail a test and suddenly the wind changes and gives up the key bird and viola...ten in a row smoke the same test. Weather isn't constant and over a four day period, conditions change...see windshield and bug statement above.

5 I can't speak for everyone, but I was never micromanaged as a judge. I had wonderful, like-minded co-judges at both grands. We were never told how many cast refusals to allow etc. The committee members I've worked with wanted us to be consistent. They were there to help the two judges and try to ensure dog 200 received the same judgement as dog #1.

6. Judgement is subjective. It isn't scientific and despite our best efforts, it will remain subjective. I tried my best to be consistent and fair to every dog. I'm sure if I could go back and watch every run, I could find errors, but I gave it the best I could. Some judges are harder than others. Period. There is no way around it. I like marking tests and challenging blinds. I'm not the line manners police. Poor line manners usually results in poor performance in the field if I have a quality test set up. Other judges know every time a dog wiggles a toe. Some teams are going to give you a couple of cast refusals, some three, some are going to give you 1's for two of them. We were never told how to judge and were never micromanaged.
 

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yes, with enough repetition a lot of dogs sit automatically to flush. What you will see though a lot are dogs not wanting to engage and flush. Out of the failures it seems that it’s almost as common that they fail due to not flushing as it is to not sitting. You can tell some were probably burned off the bird in an attempt to get the correction on the flush….
This upland is the most asinine part of any retriever hunting test. Why is it necessary? I absolutely do not want my dog quartering and hunting. A duck hunting retriever has zero business switching over to upland.
 

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I purely ONLY mean in a testing situation. I thoroughly approve and admire dogs that can do both. But as far a duck hunting, I do not want my dog acting like hes upland hunting! BTW, Ive never hunted those things but it looks damn fun!
You should try a NAHRA senior test sometime. You might just handle your dog through the upland/quarter/steady to flush and right into the triple mark and blind. :) They definitely know the difference but asking a dog to 'chill out' after the excitement of the flush can lead to some pretty loose dogs LOL....

Pheasant hunting is a blast.
 

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I'll preface everything I'm going to say with "I love the grand"...so, now you know my perspective. Having said that, I've judged the last two. Grand judges must participate in the grand judges seminar prior to setting up a test. In neither seminar were we ever told to set up marks dogs couldn't see. Further, we were never instructed to be line manners nazis or any of those horror stories I've heard. We were asked to set up challenging, fair tests that can be ran as efficiently as possible and judged to a grand standard. After judging the same test for four days twice, among my observations are these points:

1. The time of the day is important (relates to lighting of the field)-sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes your the bug but lighting changes throughout the day. The grand committee surveys each site well ahead of the judges arrival and they choose a line that allows for maximum visibility.

2. If a dog cannot follow and mark off the end of the gun barrel, it has a huge uphill battle to fight. I'm not saying it can't be done, but Fido gives himself a huge advantage if he's been trained to mark off the gun.

3. Dogs who are loose on the line are most often the dogs who didn't see the marks.

4. Weather is a game changing factor. I've seen ten or more dogs in a row fail a test and suddenly the wind changes and gives up the key bird and viola...ten in a row smoke the same test. Weather isn't constant and over a four day period, conditions change...see windshield and bug statement above.

5 I can't speak for everyone, but I was never micromanaged as a judge. I had wonderful, like-minded co-judges at both grands. We were never told how many cast refusals to allow etc. The committee members I've worked with wanted us to be consistent. They were there to help the two judges and try to ensure dog 200 received the same judgement as dog #1.

6. Judgement is subjective. It isn't scientific and despite our best efforts, it will remain subjective. I tried my best to be consistent and fair to every dog. I'm sure if I could go back and watch every run, I could find errors, but I gave it the best I could. Some judges are harder than others. Period. There is no way around it. I like marking tests and challenging blinds. I'm not the line manners police. Poor line manners usually results in poor performance in the field if I have a quality test set up. Other judges know every time a dog wiggles a toe. Some teams are going to give you a couple of cast refusals, some three, some are going to give you 1's for two of them. We were never told how to judge and were never micromanaged.

This is so very, very true. I've judged 2 Grands also, and will be judging my 3rd in about 6 weeks.

I think many of the whiners are rehashing hearsay from snippets of overheard conversations taken out of context.

Excellent post!!!
 

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I'll preface everything I'm going to say with "I love the grand"...so, now you know my perspective. Having said that, I've judged the last two. Grand judges must participate in the grand judges seminar prior to setting up a test. In neither seminar were we ever told to set up marks dogs couldn't see. Further, we were never instructed to be line manners nazis or any of those horror stories I've heard. We were asked to set up challenging, fair tests that can be ran as efficiently as possible and judged to a grand standard. After judging the same test for four days twice, among my observations are these points:

1. The time of the day is important (relates to lighting of the field)-sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes your the bug but lighting changes throughout the day. The grand committee surveys each site well ahead of the judges arrival and they choose a line that allows for maximum visibility.

2. If a dog cannot follow and mark off the end of the gun barrel, it has a huge uphill battle to fight. I'm not saying it can't be done, but Fido gives himself a huge advantage if he's been trained to mark off the gun.

3. Dogs who are loose on the line are most often the dogs who didn't see the marks.

4. Weather is a game changing factor. I've seen ten or more dogs in a row fail a test and suddenly the wind changes and gives up the key bird and viola...ten in a row smoke the same test. Weather isn't constant and over a four day period, conditions change...see windshield and bug statement above.

5 I can't speak for everyone, but I was never micromanaged as a judge. I had wonderful, like-minded co-judges at both grands. We were never told how many cast refusals to allow etc. The committee members I've worked with wanted us to be consistent. They were there to help the two judges and try to ensure dog 200 received the same judgement as dog #1.

6. Judgement is subjective. It isn't scientific and despite our best efforts, it will remain subjective. I tried my best to be consistent and fair to every dog. I'm sure if I could go back and watch every run, I could find errors, but I gave it the best I could. Some judges are harder than others. Period. There is no way around it. I like marking tests and challenging blinds. I'm not the line manners police. Poor line manners usually results in poor performance in the field if I have a quality test set up. Other judges know every time a dog wiggles a toe. Some teams are going to give you a couple of cast refusals, some three, some are going to give you 1's for two of them. We were never told how to judge and were never micromanaged.
First, I want to thank you for judging such a huge event to the best of your ability. It's a thankless job, if there ever was one.

I was invited to judge the Grand twice. The bold print above is why I didn't accept the assignments.

I don't need the Committee telling me where the line needs to be, and I sure as hell don't need or want a committee member looking over my shoulder critiquing my fairness. If they want to do that, they can climb into the judge's chair and start scoring the dogs themselves. - Paul
 

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This is so very, very true. I've judged 2 Grands also, and will be judging my 3rd in about 6 weeks.

I think many of the whiners are rehashing hearsay from snippets of overheard conversations taken out of context.

Excellent post!!!
I don’t ever want to portray that I am complaining about judges…

I trained and handled my own dog to her GRHRCH. So I am not disgruntled about some unfair test I got…

with that said there are 100% marks thrown that dogs do not get to see the whole arc and two marks in the Grands I ran where the dogs only got about 1/3-1/4 of visible fall….

At Mississippi one of the fields was right next to a factory and you couldn’t even hear the judges due to the noise. There were people waking around on their smoke break behind one of the marks. It was crazy….And like I mentioned my dog smoked the test but still, I believe it messed with some of the dogs.
 

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Well that's just fair to the dog...... I agree that the upland portion needs to go. But I bet you'd get a lot of complaining that having UH title needs to be required to get the Grand title... How about one UH pass? There is probably more required in an upland pass than there is in passing the upland portion of the grand???
The UH title can be accomplished in a weekend. They typically run two tests in day. A walk up and two flushes are required for a pass. Personally I would much rather go get the UH first or even after the Grand passes for the GRHRCH than go through a single all or nothing grand upland test.
 

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I was invited to judge the Grand twice. The bold print above is why I didn't accept the assignments.

I don't need the Committee telling me where the line needs to be, and I sure as hell don't need or want a committee member looking over my shoulder critiquing my fairness. If they want to do that, they can climb into the judge's chair and start scoring the dogs themselves. - Paul
I agree with your reason for not accepting and I hope you made it clear to the committee.
 

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First, I want to thank you for judging such a huge event to the best of your ability. It's a thankless job, if there ever was one.

I was invited to judge the Grand twice. The bold print above is why I didn't accept the assignments.

I don't need the Committee telling me where the line needs to be, and I sure as hell don't need or want a committee member looking over my shoulder critiquing my fairness. If they want to do that, they can climb into the judge's chair and start scoring the dogs themselves. - Paul
Thanks Paul. While I agree that autonomy as a judge is important, the committee selects a line based on the position of the sun throughout the day to maximize both lighting and the number of dogs that can be ran in a day. I think I could handle that on my own as well as I am sure you could. However, without some oversight, some teams would inevitably set up a test facing due east or west for instance substantially limiting the start or end times. So, the committee visits those sites long before judges arrive. As a matter of fact, I saw several committee members at Music City's test this August. Part of their mission is to look at sites and determine where tests can be ran and from where to maximize the number of dogs ran each day. Without such planning, I can assure you we would have sites that couldn't start until 9:00 am when the sun is finally high enough that it doesn't block the dog's view of a mark or marks.

I have ran the grand as well as having judged it. I did not look forward to sitting on my rear for four days watching dogs run the same test from daylight to dark all while trying to be as attentive to the last dog as I was the first. However, I felt it was important to give back. I'm thankful to again be running dogs this fall lol. As a handler, I've had tests in which birds are hard to see. However, in my two seminars, not once were we encouraged to limit the visibility of a mark's arc. To err is to be human. If that happens, it is a poorly designed test that was mistakenly approved by the committee.

With that, I'd add that I judged a water test this past spring at Natchez. The go bird in our test was the middle bird. It came out of some trees right to left and splashed at around 52 yards and was very consistent throughout the event. On day one, we watched I'd say 30% of the flight handle on that bird...think about it- a 52 yard splashing bird and there was no cover or obstacle in the direct path to the bird. I watched dogs handle on that bird when it was lying belly up and this was long before birds were wet and sinking could even be mentioned. My co-judge and I couldn't believe our eyes.

Since that grand, I have reflected much and spent considerable time thinking about what I've witnessed while judging both grands. After all, part of the reason I accepted the assignment was to see the event from the other side in hopes that my ability to handle would be improved. I have come to several conclusions but these two are the main ones I see grand after grand as both a handler and a judge. A ton of dogs get 1's or go out in the first series no matter which site they draw. Why? My observation leads me to believe for two main reasons: 1. They are young or poorly prepared dogs or inexperienced handlers who have no business there to start with and 2. Everyone and I mean even the best pros are a basket case on day one. As a handler, if you can somehow calm yourself and survive the first series with the first dog, the week seems to go better. I've watched some well respected pro handlers start a downward spiral when a dog or two in a row has a hard time that is difficult to stop. It becomes a snowball rolling down hill in a hurry.

Weekend tests usually feature guns that are hidden haphazardly by a holding blind. The grand gun stations are going to be brushed and marks are often far enough away that you can't depend on winger noise attracting the dog's attention especially if a stiff wind exists. I certainly wasn't prepared for the first one I ran and as a handler I admittedly have much to learn, but I prepare for the grand much differently after gaining some experience. Teach your dog to mark off the gun because you will have marks that have a hillside or trees behind them...don't count on having a bird up in the sky. You have to rid yourself of the nerves and be prepared to handle from the moment you sit down on that bucket. You must constantly be aware of where your dog is looking and have him conditioned to accept your help. If he locks down on the 65 yard bird he just saw and the middle bird is 187 yards out with a hillside behind it- you need to be able to pull him to the middle so he has a chance to see the mark or poke and hope is your only chance.
 

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At one time the Grand allowed handlers to attend a recap of the Grand judges seminar. That provided a lot of clarity as to what was expected. The downside was that it was held immediately prior to the banquet. Too late to make any changes to training and hard to change handling strategy.

Would be nice if the seminar manual was available online. Most handlers would be more successful explaining Einstein's theory of relativity than Grand level control.
 

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At one time the Grand allowed handlers to attend a recap of the Grand judges seminar. That provided a lot of clarity as to what was expected. The downside was that it was held immediately prior to the banquet. Too late to make any changes to training and hard to change handling strategy.

Would be nice if the seminar manual was available online. Most handlers would be more successful explaining Einstein's theory of relativity than Grand level control.
Grand level control is a unicorn. Or an observed unicorn. Or in the eye of the beholder unicorn. Like a butterfly in a whirlwind, here one second, gone the next. TOTALLY dependent on the judge.
 

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I am curious how marks and blinds are judged, and what eliminates the team.
Does a score of 1 mean your likely eliminated?
How are marks judged?
As an example, this dog had a big hunt on the first memory bird in the water at 43 yards.
Would this performance likely be scored as a 2 and the team goes on to the next series?
 
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