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Field Trials for your Sporting Dog

  For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the term “field trials,” it is a sport in which the sporting dog competes under hunting conditions. The dog can pick up the scent of a rabbit or small animal and follow the trail until he’s found it. There is also the bird trials where the animal retrieves a fallen bird. During competition, the different breeds are divided into various groups. The following groups are: Pointing Dog Trials, Retriever Trials, Spaniel Trials, Beagle Trials & Hound Trials. The following guidelines are an example of what is expected before entering your sporting dog.

  If a club is hosting a trial, they must advertise the trial with a fitting advertisement which states the following information: date of actual trial along with the place, location of drawing, time of drawing, sponsoring stakes and lastly, the contact person’s name, city and state.

  The next condition for entering is the age of the dog. There are two seasons. If you are interested in entering your puppy in the current season’s Puppy Stakes competition (July 1-December 31, 2005, he must be whelped (born) on or subsequent to June 1, 2004. The next half of the season is from (January1-June 30, 2006), the dog must be whelped on January 1, 2005 or after this date.

  Before entering your dog in a trial, make sure you have all information on the dog being entered. It is very important that all information is put on the entry form. It will consist of the dog’s name, the breed of the dog, registration number, color, sex and sire and dam’s names.

  “Field trialer” is the name of the owner or handler of the sporting dog. Field trials is an  enjoyable sport for field trialers because of the exercise as well as the excitement of seeing their dogs follow a trail. Talking with other field trialers is another thrill of competing. 

  If you are new to the sport or just getting started, it can be mind boggling choosing just the right dog, especially if you don’t even know how to get started. The first decision in choosing a sporting dog is deciding which pedigree you want. When choosing a dog, if possible, find out information about the sire and dam. What kind of accomplishments have they achieved? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

  It’s a good idea to watch a particular breed in action to see if that’s what you’re looking for in a sporting dog. Also talk to other field trialers who are more experienced in this area. They may be able to recommend a breeder. You can also read magazines or books on the subject. Find out as much information as you can before you choose your sporting dog.

  Once you’ve chosen a puppy, look the puppy over from front to back. Look for flaws in the structure of the puppy. Does he have unsteady balance? Are his hind legs weak or stiff? Are the front legs bowed? Serious flaws can prevent the dog from performing well out in the field. The fields are not easy obstacles. There may be bushes the dog may have to maneuver through and other obstructions in the way. The dog must be healthy and strong in order to maneuver quickly.

  Many field trialers will refer to the nose of the dog as being the animal’s ability to find the scent and pursue. Each dog has its own personality as to how he pursues the game. Some can be very aggressive, while others are more cautious. Each dog may have its own style which is what makes them so unique. One style is not better than another. It is really up to the field trialer as to what he likes better. The way the dog follows the scent is not the most important aspect of the sport. The most important aspect is that he finds the trail and stays on it until he finds the game. How well does their nose perform. When they do lose the rabbit, how far do they wonder off course? Do they try picking up the scent again, once they lost it? These are questions to ask yourself about your sporting dog.

  Field trailing is an exciting sport, not only for the sporting dog, but also for the field trialer. If this sport sounds interesting to you, get involved with various clubs that support this type of sport. Go out and give it a try.




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