Field Testing and Trialing
I get asked quite often why I field trial. The easiest answer is because it's fun. I travel the country to unique and interesting locations, meet like-minded people, and enjoy some friendly competition. The dogs also enjoy it. To them, we are still hunting. To me, we are staying active in the off-season. We train and condition year round now, instead of a few weeks before the hunting season. It keeps all of us sharp and on the same page.
I also hear "I don't want a field trialing dog, I want a hunting dog" a lot. Well so do I! We hunt first, trial second. I think everyone has a preconceived notion of a "trialing dog" in their minds. The discussion continues with what they want and expect out of a hunting dog, and this is usually much less than what is expected in a dog at a trial! Trial dogs are trained, polished and obedient. Nothing pisses me off more than an out of control "hunting" dog busting birds or stealing retrieves. Another question I ask is how can they verify a dog can "hunt" other than taking my word for it, seeing a few pictures, or best-case scenario if local and in-season, hunting over them?
Field testing and trialing is the only unbiased and objective way to express the field abilities of a hunting dog. Both AKC, UKC, NAVHDA and other organizations offer titles based upon abilities and frequency. A title is not a one time shot. A dog has his abilities tested against a standard several times under several different judges in several different venues before earning a title.
Felix is an AKC Senior Hunter (SH) and a UKC Champion of the Field (CHF), both are easily researchable on the AKC and UKC websites which set forth the performance standards that must be met to achieve those levels. Of course some people still don't understand the logic or just don't want to; that's when I give up and say "Yeah, they can hunt. Take my word for it..."
Here are a few of Felix and Gwen's major field accomplishments.
Felix - CH CHF Felix Sur Le Delavan TAN
UKC Natural Ability (TAN) Test title, 04-07-2011
UKC HUNT title, 05-07-2011
AKC Junior Hunter title, 09-04-2011
UKC GUN title, 03-11-2012
AKC Senior Hunter title, 03-25-2012
UKC TRIALER title, 12-08-2012
UKC 2x TRIALER title, 03-10-2013
UKC 3x TRIALER title, 01-25-2014
UKCCHAMPION OF THE FIELD title, 10-19-2014
CEB-US 2016 National Liberated Brace Champion, 03-12-2016
Gwen - CH TR Gwendolyn Hites Mississippi TAN WRT
UKC Natural Ability (TAN) Test title, 01-07-2012
UKC High Natural Quality award, 12-08-2012
UKC HUNT title, 01-21-2014
UKC GUN title, 01-22-2014
UKC TRIALER title, 10-22-2016
UKC Water Retrieve Title (WRT), 10-23-2016