by Pat & Loyd Carney, Danvers, MA - Locar Brittanys
They are performance events that test a field dog's natural ability to work game. There are two major organizations that run field trials for pointing dogs --- the American Kennel Club and the Field Dog Stud Book (American Field). Since this is a Brittany Home Page, the focus will be on AKC field trials for the pointing breeds.
Typically, trials are run by local or regional clubs and they offer a variety of stakes to challenge dogs of various ages and levels of experience as well as to accommodate both professional and amateur handlers. There is something for everybody. Up to four placements are awarded in each stake and the winning placements also earn points towards an Open and/or Amateur Field Championship title. In general, dogs are judged on ground speed, stamina, application to the available course, ability to locate and point game, style on point and manners on birds --- puppies are not required to have bird contact.
So if you think your dog may have what it takes --- a good ground race, an overwhelming desire to find birds, acceptable manners on birds (this means steady to wing and shot for adults), conditioning to go the distance (usually up to 30 minutes) and do it all with style and class, then how about trying your hand at field trials and giving your dog the opportunity to earn a field championship title --- one half of that elusive dual championship title that the Brittany, more than any other breed is so capable of attaining.
Pointer Field Trial Rules & Procedures
By Jerry Hogan
The following is taken from the AKC booklet, ``Registration and Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedure for Pointing Breeds'' which is available from the AKC for $1.00. A lot of information was left out as it was deemed unnecessary for purposes of giving the reader the gist of a field trial. It is highly recommended that anyone seriously interested in the topic should get the AKC booklet. Also, the AKC sells a video tape called ``Turn Them Loose'' which talks about the various aspects of field trials.
The rules for the pointing breed trials vary by breed slightly. This overview will attempt to cover the differences, where they exist. The rules and procedures are extensive, requiring some 66 pages in the AKC Booklet, so do not take what is presented here as gospel, only close to it. Basically a field trial is a contest between dogs to establish which has the greater hunting desire and boldness. The trial is divided into groups called stakes and these are puppy, derby, gun dog, and all age. The dogs are run in braces, two dogs on the course at one time. The judges, minimum of two, score the dog based upon the procedures and arrive at a decision at the end of the day. The judges are not required to declare a winner if they feel that none of the entrants is worthy. It should be noted that the a Judge can instruct a handler to pick up a dog if the Judge feels that:
the dog is interfering with its bracemate, or the dog is fighting or displaying aggressive behavior. It should also be noted that if the handler is abusive to the dog or displaying unsportsmanlike conduct they will be dealt with immediately. That is the gist of it so now on with the details.
Field trials are put on by a specialty club for one of the pointing breeds:
Generally speaking a trial given by one club is open to all pointing breeds unless specifically stated. The stakes are generally divided into Open or Amateur. Only amateur handlers are allowed in amateur stakes. The stakes and eligibility are as follows:
An Amateur is a person who has not accepted remuneration in any form for the training of a hunting dog or the handling of a dog in a field trial in the two years preceding the trial. Also, if your pappy or mammy is a pro, and you live with them you are not considered to be an Amateur. An Amateur can run their own dogs and not more than two dogs that are owned by others.
Bitches that are in season or which, in the opinion of the Field Trial Committee, appear to be in season, are ineligible to compete unless stated otherwise in the premium list (i.e., the flier announcing the Field Trial).
In general national breed championships can be held once a year and for breeds with large numbers of registered dogs the winner is automatically awarded the title of FC or AFC. This varies with the breed so be sure to check for your breed.
Okay, we are nearing the home stretch. To be recorded as a field champion (FC) a dog must have won 10 points with at least 3 points being garnered in a single win (i.e., a major win) in an Open Stake. No more than 2 points each can be earned in Puppy and Derby Stakes, and no more than 4 points have been won by placing first in Amateur Stakes. Exceptions: a Brittany must get a 3 point or better win in a trial held by a Brittany club, a GSP, GWP, Vizsla or Weimaraner must have won at least 4 points in a Retrieving Stakes at a club trial, and a GWP or Weimaraner must have been certified to have passed a Water Test at a club trial. Championship points are given according to the following schedule:
4 - 7 starters = 1 point
8 - 12 starters = 2 points
13 - 17 starters = 3 points
18 - 24 starters = 4 points
25 or more starters = 5 points
To be recorded as an amateur field champion (AFC) a dog must have won 10 points with at least 2 first placements, one of which must be a 3 point or better win. Points must be won in at least 3 licensed trials. No more than 2 points each can be earned in Puppy and Derby Stakes. Exceptions: a Brittany must get a 3 point or better win in a trial held by a Brittany club, a GSP, GWP, Vizsla or Weimaraner must have won at least 4 points in an Amateur Retrieving Stakes at a club trial, and a GWP or Weimaraner must have been certified to have passed a Water Test at a club trial with an amateur handler. Amateur Championship points are given according to the following schedule:
Placement 1st 2nd 3rd 4 - 7 starters 1 point 8 - 12 starters 2 points 13 - 17 starters 3 points 1 point 18 - 24 starters 4 points 2 points 25 or more starters 5 points 3 points 1 point
Championship points from first placements in Amateur Stakes that are credited towards a Field Championship, will also be credited towards an Amateur Field Championship.
The last bit concerns the running of National Championship Stakes for the various breeds. Basically, these are by invitation only and can be run only once a year. The winner automatically gets the title Field Champion or Amateur Field Champion and the right to the title National (AKC) ``Breed'' Field Champion of ``Year'' or National (AKC) Amateur ``Breed'' Field Champion of ``Year''. GSPs and Brittanys have a slightly different format in that they run 3 national stakes; National Open All-Age Championship, National Open Gun Dog Championship and National Amateur Championship. With the appropriate titles being bestowed.
Well, there it is. A condensed version of the Pointer Field Trial Rules and Procedures. We hope that this is a help to you in beginning to enjoy your Brittany whether you choose to hunt, show, trial, hunt test and/or whatever with him or her.
Last Modified: 11:00am CST, December 11, 1995, Michael Pinkosky, Jr.