For those of you who are novices, and have an interest in learning what Field work or hunting events are all about, here is an introductory description that will hopefully encourage you to begin your dogs training for Hunt Tests and Field Trials. Training for Hunt Tests and Field Trials are an excellent way to train your dog to be a competent, dependable hunting companion.
So grab your Weemarrainer or uh wimerhimer or is it whym?…Weimaraner; Vi¢ mǝ rän¢ǝr as pronounced in Webster’s Dictionary Pronunciation Key is correct. Weimaraner; begins with a “W” which in the German language has the same sound as an English “V” and therefore the confusion, but I digress.
Vimaraners (couldn’t resist) and their owner/handler can participate in several major field tests/events available through different organizations. These organizations include, but are not limited to, the Weimaraner Club of America (WCA), the American Kennel Club (AKC), the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA).
WCA offfers Ratings Tests in two categories; Shooting Dog and Retrieving Dog. Each testing category has three levels of achievement similar to novice, intermediate, and advanced; Shooting Dog has Novice Shooting Dog (NSD), Shooting Dog (SD), and Shooting Dog Excellent (SDX).
The Retrieving Dog levels are Novice Retrieving Dog (NRD), Retrieving Dog (RD), and Retrieving Dog Excellent (RDX). The NSD and NRD titles are intended to show the natural ability of a hunting dog and require very little training…well at least very little training compared to achieving one of the higher levels of testing.
Shooting Dog Requirements:
NSD classification is to determine whether young or inexperienced dogs have field and hunting aptitude. It requires your dog to hunt through a field find a planted game bird (probably a chuckar or quail) and achieve at least flash point verified by a judge, Desire to hunt, Boldness, Initiative and Search, and Reasonable Obedience to commands. You (the handler) must fire a blank-gun to show that the dog is not gun-shy.
SD This rating is to establish that a dog of any age has definite hunting ability, Bird sense, and show some field training. The dog must demonstrate the ability to: Hold point until the handler flushes the bird, Honor its bracemate when it points. ( the dog may be held after establishing an honor ). A shotgun will be used for shoot to kill retrieves, the dog must make a DIRECT retrieve of the bird to within reach of the handler but not necessarily to hand.
SDX is the top rating award offered under Field Ratings. Dogs that qualify MUST be fully broken, finished gun dogs. The dog must: find a bird and establish a staunch point, honor its bracemate on point, make a direct retrieve to hand
Retrieving Dog Requirements:
NRD requires two retrieves of a single dead bird, one on land and one in water. ( a shot will be fired for each retrieve )
RD requires a double retrieve on land and a double retrieve in the water. The dog shall be steady on the line. The Handler MUST release his/her dog with a command and the dog MUST retrieve TO HAND.
RDX requires that the dog give a finished performance, showing both class and style while competing. The dog must retrieve a double on land, a triple in the water through eight decoys and a single bird blind retrieve through eight decoys. The dog will be brought into a 12ft diameter circle off leash and under control. Handler MUST release his/her dog with a command and the dog MUST retrieve TO HAND.
AKC HUNT TESTS
The American Kennel Club (www.akc.org/dic/events/search/index.cfm) also sanctions Hunt Tests with participating dog clubs. The Hunt tests are similar to the Vimaraner Clubs Shooting Dog Ratings Tests. These tests are intended for gun dogs and hunters on foot. The dogs are required to hunt at a range and pace suitable for hunting and the tests are not competitive. Dogs are judged against a standard and passing requires scores above a minimum requirement and a total average score of at least 70% for passing a single “leg” of the Hunt Test. There are four “legs” required for a Junior Hunter (JH) title, five legs required for Senior Hunter (SH) and Master Hunter (MH) titles.
Junior Hunting (JH) Test: A Junior hunting dog must show a keen desire to hunt, be bold and independent, have a fast, yet attractive, manner of hunting, and demonstrate not only intelligence in seeking objectives, but also the ability to find game. A Junior Hunting dog must establish point, but no additional credit shall be given for steadiness to wing and shot. If the handler is within reasonable gun range of a bird which has been flushed after a point, a blank cartridge must be fired by the handler. Junior hunting dogs must hold point until the handler gets within normal gunshot range. Junior Hunting dogs must also show reasonable obedience to their handler's commands.
Senior Hunting (SH) Test: A Senior Hunting dog must show all of the attributes of a Junior Hunting dog. In addition, the dog must be steady to wing and must remain in position until the shot or they are released. A Senior Hunting dog must retrieve. Whenever it encounters its bracemate on point, it must honor. A dog that steals its bracemate's point cannot receive a Qualifying score.
Master Hunting (MH) Test: A Master hunting dog must give a finished performance and demonstrate clearly that it deserves to be qualified as such. This is the complete hunting companion that any hunter would be proud to own. It must be under its handler's control at all times, and handle kindly, with an absolute minimum of noise and hacking by the handler.
A Master hunting dog must show a keen desire to hunt, must have a bold and attractive manner of running, and must demonstrate not only intelligence in seeking objectives, but also the ability to find game. The dog must hunt for its handler at all times at a range suitable for a handler on foot, and should show or check in front of its handler frequently. It must cover adequate ground but never range out-of-sight for a length of time that would detract from its usefulness as a practical hunting companion. The dog must locate game, must point staunchly, and must be steady to wing and shot on all birds and if it breaks, it cannot receive a Qualifying score. Intelligent use of the wind and terrain in locating game, accurate nose, and intensity on point are essential. Whenever it encounters its bracemate on point, it must honor. A dog that steals its bracemate's point cannot receive a Qualifying score.
A Master hunting dog must positively demonstrate its steadiness to wing and shot. The handler shall not command or signal the dog to retrieve until positive steadiness has been demonstrated. The dog must retrieve promptly, tenderly and absolutely to hand.
AKC FIELD TRIALS
American Kennel Club (AKC) offers competition in field trials (www.akc.org/dic/events/search/index.cfm). Field trials have stakes starting in Puppy (dogs 6 months of age and under 15 months), Derby (dogs 6 months of age and under 2 years) , Gun Dog (amateur and open), All-Age (amateur and open), and Limited All-Age (amateur and open). Depending on the number of dogs competing, the winning dog, or top two or three dogs will earn points toward a championship. Most competitors compete on horse back in order to keep up with their fast running and wide ranging dogs. Competition consists of the dogs working through the back course and after a required amount of time, approx. 20 min. the dogs enter the bird field where live birds have been planted. Dogs in the higher levels of competition are required to find game, point staunchly, and be steady to wing and shot. Some stakes require the birds to be shot by a gunner after the flush and then a retrieve to hand to finish the required skills. If you love BIG running dogs and horses this could be the sport for you.
NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association)
NAVHDA conducts four levels of tests: Natural Ability (NA), Utility Preparatory (UPT), Utility Test (UT), and the Invitational Test, the flagship of NAVHDA tests. Prizes are awarded on the basis of numerical scores achieved in the test. Each dog that meets or exceeds minimum standards is placed in one of three categories, i.e., Prize I, II, or III, with Prize I being the highest. Several dogs being tested at the same time might be awarded the same prize classification.
Natural Ability Test is designed to evaluate young dogs on their inherent abilities with a view to gaining an insight into their possible future value as versatile hunting dogs. Dogs will be tested in four phases: Field Phase ( Use of Nose, Search, Pointing, Desire, Cooperation, Gun Shyness ) Tracking Phase ( Use of Nose, tracking, Desire to Work, Cooperation ) Water Phase ( Water Entry, Desire to Work, Cooperation ) Judgment of Physical Characteristics
Utility Preparatory Test is designed to evaluate the dog midway in his training towards becoming a reliable versatile gun dog. Dogs will be tested in two Phases, the Water Phase and the Field Phase. The Water Phase consists of Water Search, Walking at Heel, Steadiness by Blind, and Retrieve of a Duck. The Field Phase requires a Search, Pointing, Steadiness on Game, Retrieve of Shot Bird, Retrieve by Drag. The following are also judged throughout the Utility Preparatory Test: Use of Nose, Desire to “Work, Cooperation, Obedience, Physical Attributes.
Utility Test is designed for more experienced dogs in an advanced state of training. It evaluates their ability to perform as reliable versatile gun dogs and demonstrates their physical and mental capability to take training. The individual tests are divided into two groups as follows: Water Group, search for a duck, Walk at Heel, Remain By blind, Steadiness by Blind, Retrieve of a Duck. Field Group, Search, Pointing, Steadiness on Game, Retrieve of Shot Bird, Retrieve of Dragged Game. The following are judged throughout the Utility Test: Use of Nose, Desire to Work, Cooperation, Stamina, Obedience, Physical Attributes.
Invitational Test is the flagship of NAVHDA tests. Only those exceptional animals that have demonstrated superior skill and obedience in Utility Tests are eligible to participate