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MOVING BIRDS COMPULSORY

   We have a new rule that has been added to the CKC Spaniel Field Trial Rules 2024.

15.2.4

A dog capable of finding and following moving birds is one that possesses a natural talent of great value. Moving birds should be pursued regardless of direction of movement until the bird is produced or the judge determines that the pursuit of game is no longer warranted. The exception to the above being birds that cross the center line in braced series, where pursuit of the bird might interfere with the bracemate.

Judging is a tough job already: Did we just shoot ourselves in the foot?

 

A stroll through the dictionary and the rule book.  A little convoluted, but read through until the end and you will see the link.

 

No one encounters more frustration than a field trial dog handler that has a judge call “passed bird” when it is not blatantly obvious.

 

For example, a blatant infraction:

You are walking in mid-calf high grass, hunting straight into the wind, and the judge taps you on the shoulder. She draws your attention to the planted pheasant sleeping on the ground between you and themself. Your dog is ten yards in front of you, quartering back and forth, and had just “covered” this ground. This is not a bird that ran in from somewhere. It is sleeping dead center of the course and your dog just failed to scent that bird.

 

This decision is predicated on the fact that your dog was not, immediately prior to this announcement, working a moving bird down the course.

 

You know the rules. You are responsible to find all the birds on your course.  Don’t be leaving game on your course.

 

You are being called on 14.12.

 

14.12

LEAVING NO GAME IN HIS TERRITORY

In game finding, the dog should cover all his ground on the beat, leaving no game in his territory.

 

 

You will note in this instance, it is quite clear that the line of progress has passed the bird.  The dog has been provided every opportunity to hunt its “line of quest” to the handler’s satisfaction and the handler has proceeded forward, advancing the line.

Everyone at a field trial follows the handler.  The Judge, Guns, Shagger and indeed, the entire gallery and waiting entrants, are behind the handler.  The dog and game are the only things allowed to be in front of the handler. (Save the poor souls volunteering to plant the trial).

 

The vagaries of not using machines to hunt come into play every time we compete with a dog.

 

15.3.3 

“Working downwind, a dog will naturally reach out and work back upwind.”  

 

On a downwind hunt, a dog must pass a bird on the line of quest to acquire the scent.  No dog can smell game from an upwind position.   The dog must proceed down the course past the bird. 

It had to pass the bird. Has the dog left game on its territory?

 

No. Simple answer.  Until the handler advances the line, the bird has not been passed. 

 

14.7 

In a stake, judges, while seeking the information with which to make their placings, must balance all factors ….

 

It is the toughest part of judging.  Keeping track of all the factors that enter every scenario you are presented with during every dog’s run.  Wind velocity, direction, dynamics; Humidity, Heat, Cold, Precipitation; heavy, moderate, or light cover; and course direction changes.  

 

Example: The line of quest is very important in field trials. Some dogs get to run into a consistent head wind in light dead grass cover on a level field. Other dogs, in the same 3rd series, have to run in a turbulent down-cross wind on the lee-side down slope of a hill, in heavy green cover.  Can All-age dogs that ran a “puppy course” be given higher marks than dogs that managed much tougher conditions?  How do you evaluate the finds each of these dogs makes and then compare them fairly?  

 

 

Example: Imagine a scenario where the course is a tight circle, the course section in question passes immediately beside a copse of trees that blocks/diverts the wind, causing eddies and the ambient temperature to increase significantly. Combined with this, the wind changed directions 180 degrees, from crosswind to down-crosswind.  To add further difficulty, the cover changes from knee-high, thin grass cover, where the first contact was made, to chest-high, thick grass where the dog is not visible.

 

The dog works a bird in this thick cover and the flush comes up immediately, in front (6 feet) of the handler. When called in, the dog appears in the exact spot where the bird flushed.  Coincidence?

 

The judge called a passed bird in this instance. 

 

Where should the bird have been found? 

 

The bird flushed between the dog and the handler, out of heavy cover in front of the line.

 

Did the judge miss the wind change and the increased difficulty of the cover thickness?

 

In the case of a passed bird, it might stem from confusion about: What is “the line”?  

 

 

“The line” historical origins: 

 

"Toe the line" is an idiomatic expression meaning to stand in formation along a line. Other phrases which were once used in the early 1800s and have the same meaning were "toe the mark".  – 

 

 

In the CKC Spaniel Field Trial Rules there are repeated references to the term, “the line”.

 

17.5.5 (a) ON THE LINE

While on the line (actively walking while a dog is competing) all gunners must practice safe gun handling.

 

17.7.2 (a)

The center gunner walks down the center of the staked course, in line with the handler of the forward dog.

17.7.2 (b)

If the dog and handler take a runner, then the wing gunner maintains a position in line with the handler to one side.

LINE, the: Is comprised of the handler and their guns, with the judge immediately behind. The judge(s) may be positioned to the right and/or left. Each handler will usually have two guns shooting for them and they would normally place themselves, and their dog, between the guns. 

The dog will repeatedly pass birds if it is working the wind properly or the pheasant changes direction as it is pursued and moves through cover. Pheasants/Game do not move in straight lines, and they certainly do not avail themselves of the flag line. The natural ability used to pursue these moving birds, is of great value and, the more difficult the puzzle, the more esteem for the dog’s talent.

“The line” provides the demarcation point for judging a passed bird and that is determined by the handler’s position.  Nothing else.

When a moving bird passes the handler, to avoid the dog, and, in the end, is flushed behind the line, an experienced, knowledgeable judge will keep this possibility in mind, when evaluating the performance. Although the bird was flushed behind the line and handler, it is not a passed bird.

We have a new rule that has been added to the CKC Spaniel Field Trial Rules 2024.

15.2.4

A dog capable of finding and following moving birds is one that possesses a natural talent of great value. Moving birds should be pursued regardless of direction of movement until the bird is produced or the judge determines that the pursuit of game is no longer warranted. The exception to the above being birds that cross the center line in braced series, where pursuit of the bird might interfere with the bracemate.

Given the following rule, it may just add some more difficulty to the judges’ job if a moving bird is encountered.

 

15.8.3 

A dog is expected not only to work to his handler but also to keep some sort of track of him. The handler can aid him in this by keeping as much in the open as possible and moving up when a dog is obviously on a strong scent and likely to flush game. This should not be penalized unless it results in leaving unsearched some part of the course.

 

How will you reconcile these rules, given the foregoing discussion?

Leaving unsearched ground VS moving birds pursued regardless, until produced.

 

Good luck in your trialling and judging endeavours.

English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel English Cocker Spaniel
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