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Here are two questions for any of you spaniel trialers. Because dogs are expected to hup on flush are any trials conducted where a dog could flush in heavy cover and how fast they hup can not be seen?  Are the marked down for this? And are spaniels primarily hunting on foot scent and not on air scent cone? 

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If it can't be seen or heard, can't judge it.  Yes, trials are often held in thick heavy cover.  I can't nor won't speak for all judges but no they aren't judged for how fast they hup, and aren't marked down.  As long as the cover isn't moving the dog is staying still.

As far as scent goes, again I'm not speaking for others, but for me it depends on the dog.  I have one and his nose is on the ground when he's on scent.  While he is quartering head is up and using the wind to find scent when he finds scent, nose is down and he's going to find it. 

I have another who uses air scent unless he is trailing.  Head is up and seeking until he is close and going in for the flush.

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Good spaniels use both foot and body scent to locate a bird in cover. Many times I have seen a good dog throw his head and blow birds out at unusual distances. Of course this going to depend on wind conditions and scenting. Cross wind courses will display this use of air scenting ability with a hard 90 degree turn into the wind and increase pace to the flush.

As for steadiness in heavy cover judges where the dog cannot be seen, cover movement will indicate whether or not the dog is steady. Spanielers that trial also train quite frequently and so they develop the nack of reading the dog and the cover, by the time they have the expertise to judge a trial they have seen just about every thing that can happen in the field.

It may seem confusing and strange but over time with experience, judging in heavy cover is not a big deal. Heavy cover is always best, Pheasants just act more natural when they feel concealed.

 

Hal

12 hours ago, fishvik said:

Here are two questions for any of you spaniel trialers. Because dogs are expected to hup on flush are any trials conducted where a dog could flush in heavy cover and how fast they hup can not be seen?  Are the marked down for this? And are spaniels primarily hunting on foot scent and not on air scent cone? 

 

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stephen brown

Here's one that will raise an eye brow. Do you send a dog for a retrieve that can't be seen by the judge(s)? Dog, handler and judges sees the fall in say standing corn. Send dog or no?

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1 hour ago, stephen brown said:

Here's one that will raise an eye brow. Do you send a dog for a retrieve that can't be seen by the judge(s)? Dog, handler and judges sees the fall in say standing corn. Send dog or no?

 

Depends on variables.  If it's a 80-100 yards and that bird isn't dead, no.  If it's a decent retrieve 40-60 yes.  As for me as a handler and if it's with my dog Web, send me.  

Last year, in the first series of the National Amateur, we were down a hill in a low area, very shrubby with scattered trees.  Bird went up and back to the left, across the gallery and up over a hill, and the cover went from shrubs to tall grass, no way the dog saw the mark.  I was sent and was happy for it.  He made the retrieve on the line.  

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stephen brown

How much cover does the 40-60 yard retrieve cover? Forty yards to heavy cover and another 20 yards into cover? Does the judge turn to you and say ' What ya think?'. Are you marked down if the dog doesn't make the retrieve? Tricky P-birds sometimes come back to life.

 

Nice dog you're running. Good marker and I suspect good nose.

 

 

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5 hours ago, stephen brown said:

Are you marked down if the dog doesn't make the retrieve?


Are you marked down?  No, you are out.  If the dog fails a retrieve you are out.  I've never had a judge ask me what I thought.  They either send you or say "No bird" Call your dog back and carry on.  I have had a couple ask if I wanted the retrieve.  And one asked me if I wanted an eye wipe coming to the line. 

As far as the cover it is whatever is there. 

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1)  Heavy cover .... yes trials are run in cover and sometimes it is difficult to keep up with ones dog ... handler, judge and guns....  One learns to key off the grass movement.... 

 

2) I don't think dogs are judged on the speed of the Hup after the flush.   The dog should stop after the flush.  however, there can be a couple strides of "follow through" after the flush depending on how fast the dog is moving when coming in on the bird.   If the bird doesn't "blow off the ground" then the dogs momentum slows to try to locate the bird.   If the bird is ready to fly, then the dog is in fast motion coming in on the bird which will result in some follow through while getting stopped.   It is easy to tell if the dog was trying to keep going and the handler was trying to get the dog to stop with a whistle.   

 

3) spaniels are turned loose to find game.  How the dog finds game isn't that important as long as it is with a sense of urgency and the dog does it in a "more perfect manner".     Most trialing spaniels will run hard until it hits scent.  If the bird is moving, it will track the bird.   Some dogs will trail a bird with head up somewhat even though it is taking foot scent.   They are not "taught" to find birds through Air Scent cone vs Foot tracking scent.   

 

The retrieve question:    

 

Send on a retrieve:   Yes... depending on the situation the judge will send on a fall that is "over the hill" and no one can see where the bird hit the ground.  Or cover is high and you just wait on the dog to come back with the bird.    

 

The grounds in some trials have very similar cover on the course and others have different combinations of cover throughout the course.    The randomness of the retrieve opportunities is one of the "unfair" aspects of the sport.  However, it is much like hunting.... we don't pick where a bird fly's and therefore take the retrieves where they may fall. 

 

The judge chooses what retrieves he wants to send a dog on.   Some judges send on everything.    Sometimes there may be a fence or obstacle that may make the retrieve unsafe.   Judges never ask what you think.   However, sometimes a handler may say, Send Me, I want that retrieve. LOL   Opportunity to show off that others might not get. 

 

If the dog fails a retrieve, it is disqualified from the trial.   However, there have been situations where a dog didn't make a retrieve, got called back to the 3rd and won the trial.   Unfortunately the gallery isn't always privy to the things that the judge saw and had to determine while watching the dog.    

Sometimes the judge has to think about the situation and usually that means you probably will not get a ribbon.   

 

 

I hope I interpreted the questions correctly and answered them.   

 

 

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8 hours ago, SpringerDude said:

 Some judges send on everything.    Sometimes there may be a fence or obstacle that may make the retrieve unsafe.   Judges never ask what you think.   However, sometimes a handler may say, Send Me, I want that retrieve. LOL   Opportunity to show off that others might not get. 

 

8 hours ago, SpringerDude said:

However, sometimes a handler may say, Send Me, I want that retrieve. LOL   Opportunity to show off that others might not get. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice explanation Springer Dude

Yikes i have seen this happen and "Bite" the handler in arse LOL...

 

Hal

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On 11/30/2020 at 11:39 PM, fishvik said:

Here are two questions for any of you spaniel trialers. Because dogs are expected to hup on flush are any trials conducted where a dog could flush in heavy cover and how fast they hup can not be seen?  Are the marked down for this? And are spaniels primarily hunting on foot scent and not on air scent cone? 

 

 

Fishvik asked a very good question concerning conditions and situation that occur in a Spaniel trial. One of the areas that i have struggled with is in explaining "what good cover is and is not when it comes to Spaniel trialing when discussing this subject with non-spaniel folks.

I have come across some photos that show good Autumn cover and decent spring cover. Ask your self, you that trial or hang around Retriever Trials or Pointing dog Trials Are these examples of what good trial grounds would be for your venue?

 

 

 

 

 

Hal

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3 hours ago, Hal Standish said:

 

 

Nice explanation Springer Dude

Yikes i have seen this happen and "Bite" the handler in arse LOL...

 

Hal

Yes indeed.  Go Big or Go Home!  as they say ....   

I was carrying the basket behind a judge and as we finished our side of the course, the bracemate produced a bird which was a long shot for the guns.   Lightly hit, it sailed a ways before coming down.  Dog was sent and failed the retrieve.   Judge on my side, said.. crap, that was my best dog in the first series.    Asked the other judge, Why did you send on that retrieve.  Reply:  Handler asked for it!    Handler said.... can you believe he sent me?  and laughed...      Handler was Marty Knibbs.   

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21 hours ago, stephen brown said:

Here's one that will raise an eye brow. Do you send a dog for a retrieve that can't be seen by the judge(s)? Dog, handler and judges sees the fall in say standing corn. Send dog or no?

Yes I would send the dog and if it became clear that the dog was unable to mark the fall I would put the dog and handler in a position to make a reasonable blind retrieve. As a Judge I want to give the dog an opportunity to look good, I want that bird, and I want to keep the trial moving in fairness to the other competitors.

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Thanks for all the good responses. Here's the basis for the questions. I have hunted with a spaniel trialer on a WMA with thick cover (willows, Russian olive, cattails and bullrush) along with medium length rush. The area is stocked with pheasants and he runs some very nice looking Springers though not any big males. They seem hesitant to hit the thick stuff where a lot of the birds go when they are released. In addition, one morning we had a real thick hoar frost cover the ground and the dogs had a real hard time locating birds. Thus my questions about spaniel trials and thick cover and foot scent versus air scent. This guys spaniels are great looking Springers and well trained so it kind of surprised me they had such a hard time finding birds in those conditions. And please all you spaniel and particularly Springer folks, this is not a slam on your dogs, I've hunted with some great Springers. I was just curious if the training for trials had anything to do with it. Thanks again.

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stephen brown
3 hours ago, 123 said:

Yes I would send the dog and if it became clear that the dog was unable to mark the fall I would put the dog and handler in a position to make a reasonable blind retrieve. As a Judge I want to give the dog an opportunity to look good, I want that bird, and I want to keep the trial moving in fairness to the other competitors.

Glad you piped in. What you said is what I've seen at the few ESS trials I've walked. Would you put dog and handler is position for blind for difficult retrieves or all? I'm guessing a dog missing a routine mark the handler would get a 'thank you' and pick up the dog.  I'm thinking of a retrieve where dog does from relatively low cover to high cover and the dog hangs up and won't go into high, or dog refuses to cross some natural barrier like a creek.

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Good discussion. And a few thoughts.

 

Most judges seem pretty consistent throughout a given trial when they will or will not send on a retrieve. If they decide not to send a dog on a bomber retrieve with various levels of difficulty (across both courses, up a hill, over a knoll, through a significant cover change or two, etc), then they generally won't send any dog on a similar retrieve-- even if asked. That might give an unfair advantage on a decision the judge has already made. This fall I did ask a judge if they were willing send me on a retrieve after being told "no bird" in the second, series. I had some dirt in the first series and I was trying to dig out of a perceived hole. (Turns out ALL of the dogs had dirt on them.) In retrospect, I probably should have just left it alone out of deference and respect for the judge's decision. Nevertheless, the judge obliged and after I sent my dog I was warned that if my dog failed the retrieve and we were out, then it was my fault. I agreed. Thankfully, the dog did come up with the retrieve and we took second that day.

 

In larger trials where the cover is thick and the dogs are struggling with retrieves, the judges might only send on retrieves that seem reasonable. Sometimes the opposite is true. Similar to other examples I can recall, in the 4th series of the National Amateur last year the judges decided to send on EVERYTHING because they needed some attrition and separation. I get it. IMO, the only time a judge should not send on a retrieve is straight down the course. It's too much of a risk for a dog to bust the next plant and keep going until the bird planters have to reset the whole course. Think about what that might mean for the dog on the other course who has been sitting there patiently while the bracemate clears its own course.

 

Regarding the ability to know if the dog is steady in heavy cover, once a dog has decided to take a few steps (and without a verbal or extra whistle reminder if you can see a break unfolding), it usually devolves into a full blown jail break. Game over. And even if a dog only takes a few steps on that particular bird without a reminder, a dog on the edge will usually break at some point in the trial.

 

I don't know what to say about the observation of springers being reluctant to dive into heavy cover. I don't take any offense at the comment-- sounds like an honest and reasonable observation. And while I also don't know and haven't seen the dogs you are referencing, I still think it's fair to say that sometimes not all trial dogs make the best hunting dogs. There are too many variable in a true hunting situation so that a dog without the right type of experience and/or repetition in a more controlled training or trialing environment may struggle with certain elements of real hunting. There are some pros who believe the fastest way to ruin a trial dog is to take them hunting. Some pros also develop quartering by training the dog to run on a path or course in between the cover. In other words, they're never really trained to bash through cover and develop a truly bold questing drive. Like many trialers on this forum, I hunt the bejeezus out of my dogs and I feel pretty confident it help them develop into better trial dogs.

 

 

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