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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Note: I bring this subject up for discussion with other Hunt Test enthusiasts, or anybody who has constructive input on the subject.

I'm concerned about the future of the Master Hunt Tests. Mostly because the pass rate is now exceeding 50%! It is not uncommon to see 60-70-80+ percent passing. People are expecting to pass if they only handle their dog on one mark. Most contestants have figured out, that if you keep your dog on line on a blind, you will not get dropped, no matter how many whistles you blow. 10 to 15 whistles on a 100 yard blind equates to a whistle every 20/30 feet!

My question is; Would it be healthier to our sport to raise our standards, and of so, where would you draw the line on what is acceptable.
 

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Note: I bring this subject up for discussion with other Hunt Test enthusiasts, or anybody who has constructive input on the subject.

I'm concerned about the future of the Master Hunt Tests. Mostly because the pass rate is now exceeding 50%! It is not uncommon to see 60-70-80+ percent passing. People are expecting to pass if they only handle their dog on one mark. Most contestants have figured out, that if you keep your dog on line on a blind, you will not get dropped, no matter how many whistles you blow. 10 to 15 whistles on a 100 yard blind equates to a whistle every 20/30 feet!

My question is; Would it be healthier to our sport to raise our standards, and of so, where would you draw the line on what is acceptable.
Where are the stastistics recorded that Master Hunt test pass rates are now exceeding 60-80%?
 

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There are other avenues with steep competition and more difficult setups to run your dogs on. They are called Field Trials.

Hunt Tests are not Field Trials, they are judged on a standard, so yes, if the dog 'just does the work', then they deserve a pass.

Travis
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Where are the stastistics recorded that Master Hunt test pass rates are now exceeding 60-80%?
I took the average from 2 recent back issues of the RFTN . I came up with 56%. That is not exactly scientific, but revealing. You will find more and also lower pass rates.
 

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Note: I bring this subject up for discussion with other Hunt Test enthusiasts, or anybody who has constructive input on the subject.

I'm concerned about the future of the Master Hunt Tests. Mostly because the pass rate is now exceeding 50%! It is not uncommon to see 60-70-80+ percent passing. People are expecting to pass if they only handle their dog on one mark. Most contestants have figured out, that if you keep your dog on line on a blind, you will not get dropped, no matter how many whistles you blow. 10 to 15 whistles on a 100 yard blind equates to a whistle every 20/30 feet!

My question is; Would it be healthier to our sport to raise our standards, and of so, where would you draw the line on what is acceptable.
What standards would you propose raising?
 

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What is your concern? Is it that judges are more lenient, or that dogs are trained better?

I would guess that the situation is the latter. With the development of training programs and more sophisticated training tools, our competitive dogs have become better. Having run hunts in the 90s and then being out for awhile and coming back in 2006, I can tell you that the sophistication of the judges has increased also. Basically, the sport is evolving...

As long as judges stick to the rule books in setting up tests, I see no problem with a 5% pass rate or a 100% pass rate. It depends on the test and the dogs that show up.

I would hate to see a move to adjust the "standard" to make it "tougher". As stated already, if you want to move the bar up, then start going to field trials. Some judges already set up field trial "wanna-be" tests.

If our dogs are getting better, then that is a good thing... wasn't the original intent of the hunt test program to preserve the hunting qualities in our retrievers? Maybe we're just being successful at the original intent of the hunt test movement.
 

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Note: I bring this subject up for discussion with other Hunt Test enthusiasts, or anybody who has constructive input on the subject.

I'm concerned about the future of the Master Hunt Tests. Mostly because the pass rate is now exceeding 50%! It is not uncommon to see 60-70-80+ percent passing.
Why do you think that the pass rate is a problem?
1) A person doesn't enter a Hunting Test unless he expects to pass it.
2) If a certain percentage of dogs have met the standard it means that they have qualified, it doesn't mean the standard should be changed.
3) If one's shooting is so poor that a dog's retrieves are that difficult then one should change the standard for his own dog, not everybody else's dog.
4) What is wrong with the present standard which is based on the qualities needed in a hunting dog and not on passing percentages?
5) It's only natural that as breeding programs improve and training gets better that you will have higher percentages passing. What's wrong with that?
6) If I teach an Honors Physics class I would expect to get 100% passing. My sample is not a randomly selected group just as the dogs entering a Master Test is not a randomly selected group. If you want lower passing percentages test a randomly selected group such as all Labrador Retrievers. Then you will get the percentages you want.
 

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Why do you assume that the rise in pass rates is due to a lowering of sandards? More people are learning how to become more effective trainers and are looking to buy puppy's from more talented breedings.

More well bred dogs+ more well informed trainers = higher pass rates.

Bert
 

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Note: I bring this subject up for discussion with other Hunt Test enthusiasts, or anybody who has constructive input on the subject.

I'm concerned about the future of the Master Hunt Tests. Mostly because the pass rate is now exceeding 50%! It is not uncommon to see 60-70-80+ percent passing. People are expecting to pass if they only handle their dog on one mark. Most contestants have figured out, that if you keep your dog on line on a blind, you will not get dropped, no matter how many whistles you blow. 10 to 15 whistles on a 100 yard blind equates to a whistle every 20/30 feet!

My question is; Would it be healthier to our sport to raise our standards, and of so, where would you draw the line on what is acceptable.
If the dog takes the casts and makes progress to the blind where is your problem?? If you want to compete on a different standard go run field trials.
 

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Why do you assume that the rise in pass rates is due to a lowering of standards? More people are learning how to become more effective trainers and are looking to buy puppy's from more talented breedings.More well bred dogs+ more well informed trainers = higher pass rates.

Bert
Your points sound good.
But then there is this ...

I don't run hunt tests, but I attended one recently and had the opportunity to be in the gallery and listen to handlers opinions about judges. Some judges were known to be "hard" judges who set up tough tests so entries under them were smaller than those entries for judges known to be "easy". Word to the wise to clubs: pick easy judges to get higher entries.

I also heard about sort of an unspoken "rule"... you can get by with handles. You can get by with more handles from certain judges. Word to the wise to clubs: pick those certain judges because they are more popular.

Not me speaking... I am just repeating what I heard in the hunt test gallery.

Helen
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
What is your concern? Is it that judges are more lenient, or that dogs are trained better?

I would guess that the situation is the latter. With the development of training programs and more sophisticated training tools, our competitive dogs have become better. Having run hunts in the 90s and then being out for awhile and coming back in 2006, I can tell you that the sophistication of the judges has increased also. Basically, the sport is evolving...

As long as judges stick to the rule books in setting up tests, I see no problem with a 5% pass rate or a 100% pass rate. It depends on the test and the dogs that show up.

I would hate to see a move to adjust the "standard" to make it "tougher". As stated already, if you want to move the bar up, then start going to field trials. Some judges already set up field trial "wanna-be" tests.

If our dogs are getting better, then that is a good thing... wasn't the original intent of the hunt test program to preserve the hunting qualities in our retrievers? Maybe we're just being successful at the original intent of the hunt test movement.
You bring up some excellent points. Training methods are much better today. More dogs are passing. I'm concerned about respect for the title. We as Americans are naturally competitive. Even if it is against a standard. Do you feel the same amount of accomplishment when you proved that you are "Better than Average"?

I'm not proposing a change in the rules, but higher expectations. For example a dog does great in the first series, then in the next series he hunts extensively between the marks of a triple, then trips upon one of the birds. Next the dog has a huge hunt on the last bird. Would you score that series with a "1" or a "ZERO", even though he hasn't handled on a mark.

On blinds, I generally don't count whistles in hunt tests, but isn't 10 too many with all of the information that there is now, on teaching a dog to cary a line, and get a good initial line?

In the future will you feel the need to prove that your dog is in the upper 70 percentile. Don't get me wrong, I would like to pass them all, if all of the work is good.
 

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...

In the future will you feel the need to prove that your dog is in the upper 70 percentile. Don't get me wrong, I would like to pass them all, if all of the work is good.
This kind of talk makes folks think you want to compete. If you do, then enter a field trial. If you do, and stay with it, you'll learn to deal with not getting a ribbon very time out.

I do agree that some "easy" judges may not apply all of the rules. The blind scenario you mentioned as an example. If you are stopping the dog every 30 feet, how is that taking and holding a line for a considerable distance? Apply the current rules and if every dog passes, so what.

In the end, if the MH ribbon becomes so easy for you to get that you lose that feeling of accomplishment, step up to a FT. You'll start to consider a call back to the 2nd series a win.
 

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In the future will you feel the need to prove that your dog is in the upper 70 percentile
So at what point do you start deciding which dogs are the best and winners and losers. Which is where you are going with this and when you start comparing percentages of dogs that pass and dogs that pass that is exactly what you are doing? Not judging against the standard of the rules of the test! If the judges decide the dog scored well enough of to pass?
So be it, give the dog a ribbon and let 'em go home. If you want the best dog out there and feel confident they are, go run a field trial. Step up to the plate. If you feel your dog can stomp marks and nail blinds and is better than most of the dogs out there that day, go for it.
 

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My two cents....When the HT program was set up it was to give the ordinary hunter a venue to run his dog and hopefully to improve the breed. If the program really worked then a natural consequence would be improved dog work ( and that's what happened IMHO) and the only way to keep pass rates at some arbitrary number, say 30%, would be to raise the standards or make it more like a field trial which we were supposed to be moving away from. I'll leave it to folks at a higher pay grade than mine to decide what to do in the long run but if we want those ordinary hunters to run AKC hunt tests then we better be careful.
The first Master I judged had 12 dogs and none were handled by pros and I don't believe any were pro trained...now I've ran an event when 90 per cent were pro trained and/or handled...so I would expect the dog work to be better and I think it is.
Granted there will be some judges that are easier and others that are harder and still others that will succomb to playing some sort of " politics" and that will never change unless we take the judging out of it ( which oddly enough some judges do by being arbitrary about everything) by saying , you must run from that spot, you must go between that rock and that stick, you must not use more than 10 whistles, and so on and so on.
I tend to get upset about some folks who seem to forget, or possibly never knew, the original purpose of the movement and that includes some AKC higher ups.
A last thought. No one ever said that you could only have one, two or any number of handles and the rules cover that in many ways...BUT....not all handles are alike...a dog that leaves the line totally lost but kind of heading toward the mark and then handles is way different to me than one who brings the prior mark back while glancing over its shoulder at the next mark, sits down facing the next mark and takes off with certainty of purpose then gets a handle to avoid some disaster..as good as no handle?..probably not but is the dog a worthy hunting companion, even if it has two of those?...most likely.
I've actually sit and listened to a young pro griping about a dog that passed with two handles but had no problem with a dog passing whose handler had to get in a fight to get the birds from the dog..I know it's a judgement call but I knew which dog, on that day, I would rather hunt with...
That's my take without spending any more training time sitting here pecking away. Thanks for listening.
Bill Butikas
Blindfaith Retrievers
 
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