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I was cruising around websites and found one pro that says dogs/handlers should get in the program and follow it through and just avoid Junior hunter (and equivalent) tests. I'm sure there's a good reason for this, just don't know what it would be.

Also, what would clubs do without the minor stakes? I don't know if they are money makers or not, but at some point the newbies have to be encouraged to get in the game. If I hadn't gotten a silly little ribbon at a sanctioned field trial eons ago, I'd never have discovered how addicting this stuff is.
 

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The reason, at least for me, is that running young dogs in any tests leads to bad habits like cheating water and poor line manners. Nothing wrong with running a minor stake, I just prefer to wait until the dog is decheated, delivering to hand, heels to the line under control, etc. Also from a $$ perspective, I prefer to run MH only. 4 JH + 4 SH + 5 MH costs more than 6 MH. Finally, every weekend spent at a minor HT stake is a weekend not spent training.
The only benefits I can think of to running JH or Started is to get a newbie hooked on the game and to get a new handler some line time. There may be more of course, but beyond your first dog, I see no point on running minor hunt test stakes.
 

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I agree with a lot of what Glen said. I hate to see a dog at a Jr test with awful line manneres and not handling a bird properly. I tell my clients the worst thing they can do is run a Jr or started HT before their dog is ready. To me that is Steady, delivering to hand. Once the dog is ready its a GREAT way to get my clients to be more involved with their dogs and more importantly get them to better understand how to handle their dog.

One of the nice things about HRC is you get your HRCH by earning 100 points. 10 can come from started 30 can come from Seasoned and the remaining 60 need to come from Finished. Thats 9 tests. Or you can jump right into Finished and run 7, cost either way is about the same. (of corse I mean passed test)

I feel there can be great value to the new dog handler to run JR or Started test as long as both handler and dog are ready.
 

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I agree with Glen (I wait until my dogs are SH ready (no cheating, steady, reliable delivery, etc..) .... BUT then I run JH ... I Skipped JH with my “Feather” now 24 month old (with her 1st MH pass) ... going right to SH.

I’ll never skip JH again.... Recently I went 4/4 in JH with my 9 month old “Penny” and SHE is pretty much ready for SH conceptually but maturity and experience is lacking. Here is what I mean:

As a somewhat experience handler (no longer getting butterflies until I am at the line in MH stakes now).. I was feeling like the work in JH was "baby stuff" for the dogs and the cost of it wasn’t worth it.

Lessons Learned:
1) The adrenaline factor of the hunt test (most of us know that feeling oh so well) gets the dogs so amped up. Greatly affected my dogs holding blind manners, line manners, and general attention on ME.
.............​
I believe control, communication, and patience (on part of the hander and the DOG) is SUPER important and only the JH level gives the opportunity to practice with our youngsters before moving up.

I.E. I require that my dogs “down” in a holding blind and on honor whenever a judge will permit it (which is usually). Having the JH stake to practice and proof these things gets a dog some experience working with the high levels of distractions/excitement the hunt tests have to offer.

2) With “Feather” ~ While I felt confident I had 100% of a dog that was “ready” for SH in training ... the hunt test factors brought about 80% of my young dog to the line (off lead I might ad). I was faced with creeping and even a BREAK on an honor in SH (things I did not have to “deal with” in training).
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In a JH test when the judge says “DOG” I have the opportunity to say “SIT” (while holding a collar) .... calmly wait for compliance, and then send my “puppy” as I would with a big dog (a single) release the collar, drop my hand and send the dog. (Even practicing the “easy cue” on these short JH marks).

Well, thats what I learned and think that the lower level stakes are good for those reasons - proofing and developing young dogs to understand the work is still the work even though we are at a “test.”
 

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I do all my own training and handling. Even though there is to be no training at a test, I think of it as part of the training process.

I shoot a few fliers and hunt. However I don't train with a large group or use a pro.

I like to run as late as the Marshall will allow to develop the scent pools. Where else can I sit my dog on line at water marks where thirty, forty or more dogs have sat with dripping wet ducks, or, go to an area of the fall with a huge scent pool after having thirty or more fliers shot and bleeding out.

Wonderful experience for any young dog. Wait until they are ready. Although I keep seeing folks do it, there are no hero dogs or handler awards from being the youngest dog to ever do something. Mostly mistakes are made as mentioned above, where inexperienced and partly trained dogs learn all sorts of bad habits and become test wise.

It's a journey not a race,
Chris
 

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Junior is a good place to expose your young dog to the atmosphere and distractions of a real test day provided they are pretty well under control and you are willing to pick them up if they break a cardinal rule. JMO

JS
 

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Hi Danielle,
that's exactly what I was going to say, great explanation. Haven't seen you at many test this spring.
 

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Great post Danielle. I was not going to run my pup in HT at all but due to little to no work over the winter and almost no water work, I am not going to try derby till late summer. But I feel like I can run JH without him getting away with anything and find out what I really have at the line and holding blind!
 

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Hi Danielle,
that's exactly what I was going to say, great explanation. Haven't seen you at many test this spring.
Thanks!

Well, only plan to run 3 tests this Spring - 2 down 1 more to go! Wanted to make sure my “JH" dog was ready for “SH" before entering Junior ;) and my MH dog was truly ready .... feeling good about a great Fall from what I have seen in the few I did run this Spring.

Like someone above said: “Its not a race” ;) I am pretty lucky to have such great young dogs but want to make sure I am at the line with a dog I KNOW can do the work! :)
 

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Junior is a good place to expose your young dog to the atmosphere and distractions of a real test day provided they are pretty well under control and you are willing to pick them up if they break a cardinal rule. JMO

JS
This +1. My pro was adamant about this when I picked my dog up.
 

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The reason, at least for me, is that running young dogs in any tests leads to bad habits like cheating water and poor line manners. Nothing wrong with running a minor stake, I just prefer to wait until the dog is decheated, delivering to hand, heels to the line under control, etc.


^^ This. It's a good way to introduce people to the game but it's a double edge sword.
 

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We just had 66 juniors yesterday. Nice entry. Up from previous years. Was nice to see such a good turnout. We also do fliers in each series.
 

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Junior is a good place to expose your young dog to the atmosphere and distractions of a real test day provided they are pretty well under control and you are willing to pick them up if they break a cardinal rule. JMO

JS
I disagree. I think junior/started is a good place for inexperienced people to get hooked on the game but a poor place to introduce dogs to the game. How many junior/started handlers will make a correction for inappropriate behavior and pick up a dog at an event?

In junior there is no requirement for the dog to think. He's on lead to the line. He's held there so he doesn't break. It's all singles. He doesn't need to think about being a partner until he gets the bird.

I do not want to introduce my young dogs to the retriever games in the ready, set, go, highly charged atmosphere of the junior/started. I think it's detrimental to having a team player.
 

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I see value in running Senior for the dog, it gets the dog exposure, and its a good venue to gauge where exactly they are. I see value in running Junior for the newbie handler-dog owner, it gets them involved and it's a great venue to have success in before you step up to having to handle a senior-master level dog in a test. So while I doubt I will ever run junior again, unless I have a very young dog and I want to support the club. I will recommend newbies run Junior, shoot sometimes I let people run my dogs in it just so they can get handler exposure. Seems wrong to have new handlers throwing up at the line for the first time in a master level test ;).
 

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Seems wrong to have new handlers throwing up at the line for the first time in a master level test ;).
That's funny but so true!! I was thinking in my first Senior hunt test, how that Bratwurst I ate the night before was not tasting so good in the morning! Of course the test was so tough the test dog puked when it got to the line (so I did not feel so bad!! :)
 

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Wait 'til you run your first Qual. I just ran my third one (dog wants a better handler-note-keep whistle in mouth, DO NOT blow if dog is directly on line to the blind :( ) and glad I had depends. :)
I never ran Jr just Sr.

Jeff
 

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I ran started & junior for the line experience as I'm on my first dog since I was a kid. Every time I step to the line I learn something and each time I see areas for improvement as a handler. I also get more relaxed each time I step to the line. (note to self: SLOW DOWN!)

I know I'm the anchor to our team and there is only one way to get better as a handler and that's to step to the line and do it again and again.

And the biggest reason I did it? It's a lot of fun to do stuff with my buddy!!
 

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For me, the Junior stake was a good starting point to learn the mechanics of a hunt test, and become more familiar with the game. I could understand if you trained with a group and could somewhat replicate a test environment, but when you primarily train alone (or with one other individual) and are new to the hunt scene, the Junior stake provides a good reference point and exposure. I attended a HT and FT before entering my first stake, but watching and running are two totally different things. Thankfully, my rescue girl is cool as a cucumber, but I'm not afraid to admit I was a nervous wreck my first time to the line and don't think I could have ever started at the Senior level where you are required to shoulder a gun and handle your dog. Now that I've run several Junior stakes and one Master stake, I feel the option for skipping Junior the next time around is more plausible.
 

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I disagree. I think junior/started is a good place for inexperienced people to get hooked on the game but a poor place to introduce dogs to the game. How many junior/started handlers will make a correction for inappropriate behavior and pick up a dog at an event?

In junior there is no requirement for the dog to think. He's on lead to the line. He's held there so he doesn't break. It's all singles. He doesn't need to think about being a partner until he gets the bird.

I do not want to introduce my young dogs to the retriever games in the ready, set, go, highly charged atmosphere of the junior/started. I think it's detrimental to having a team player.
I agree with this too - Juniors is in my humble opinion more for the handler to get a grasp of the ropes and a horrible place to introduce a dog to the atmosphere...but I've also learned I can warn others against running Juniors with a young dog until I'm blue in the face - people only learn through experience and crashing and burning, yes you may get a orange ribbon but you just might get more than that in bad habits and an easily over excitable dog for all future events you run.

And if you are gonna run Derbies I don't suggest running Juniors before - all you do is introduce the young dog to calls and sites and sounds that they don't need which only amp them up in tests environments, especially if they are not trained to a very high standard from the get go. Best way to create a monster.

FOM

And yes I have one of those test-wise psychos, although he has mellowed out at 13.5 years old! But hey we had his HR, SH and WR before 2 years old! :rolleyes:
 

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Howard, Howard, Howard! Where do I start?? :eek:

You missed the part of my comments that said, "... provided they are pretty well under control and you are willing to pick them up if they break a cardinal rule."

I disagree. I think junior/started is a good place for inexperienced people to get hooked on the game but a poor place to introduce dogs to the game. How many junior/started handlers will make a correction for inappropriate behavior and pick up a dog at an event?
Are you assuming everyone who runs a junior dog is a "junior handler"? I see pros and other experienced handlers running dogs in junior all the time. And if they're smart, they will recognize the pitfalls and react accordingly, making it a good training experience. (if they're not smart, they shouldn't be running at any level :p)

Now, if they just go on "hoping" for a ribbon and letting their brand new dog learn bad habits then, ... well, that's not what I advised.

In junior there is no requirement for the dog to think. He's on lead to the line. He's held there so he doesn't break.
Only if that's the way you choose to play it. You can certainly bring him to the line with no lead AND no collar. And when I said "pretty well under control", I mean you can stop him with a "SIT/NO/HEEL" if he breaks.

And we know the junior judges usually get last pick of the grounds which often means they have to set up cheaty tests. So again, assuming your dog is "pretty well under control", ou handle when they cheat and pick up if they don't take the cast. Lesson learned.

You know, most tests any more have a double junior or a double senior. Double staking your dog in both gives you multiple trips to the line. Dog breaks, cheats, etc., you can react accordingly and still have a couple more chances at the line to get it right.

Good lessons, IMO. Only bad if you are lusting for a ribbon and stand there hoping.


It's all singles. He doesn't need to think about being a partner until he gets the bird.
I don't understand this. Again, I assume you have done something at home and are reasonably prepared.

I do not want to introduce my young dogs to the retriever games in the ready, set, go, highly charged atmosphere of the junior/started. I think it's detrimental to having a team player.
Howard, you need to step away from the all-age setup occasionally and go look at a junior test. You forget how very basic they are. It's only going to be detrimental if the dog is not a team player when you get to the grounds. Handle it like you would in training.

Again, JMO.

JS
 
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