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problem some saw with this manner of trial was that a strong retrieving spaniel with impeccable manners (not hard to achieve with such a slow dog) that may lose some speed points on the land section of the event could make up points on the water event. Often, our field trial winners and champions - and even some GFTCH - were slow dogs that had impeccable manners and yet, one I can think of from many years ago, I would hesitate to shoot over. Dogs became very release trap wise and some trial dogs did not display the same discipline on game.

Dog people who had visited the UK knew that not only was there a different breed of spaniel on offer, but a better way of testing true hunting dogs. The imports started to trickle in.
Bob Whitehead with (from back) Gelligoch Candy FTW
(UK import cocker), FTCH Murphy of Ballyblack (ESS)
and Wernffrwd Dafydd Du (UK import cocker)

The show/working strain split is no more noticeable anywhere in the world than it is in New Zealand. The old style spaniel will do a great deal of work for you in a duck blind, but it is all but useless on upland game in comparison to the working spaniel. The cocker, in its working style had disappeared completely from the scene. The cocker we had was a companion/show dog of little use in the field.

However, some people started to import the English working blood and today a thriving scene of enthusiasts treasure their working spaniels. Even some working cockers have come into the country and have figured prominently in wild game trials… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

With the working spaniels here, it started to become apparent to the true dog men and hunters that the pigeon trial scene was, in many areas, being dominated by people whose primary goal was trials themselves or hunting titles for show dogs and not in furthering the hunting dog. A split was inevitable and it began with the pointer and setter breeds and then spilled over to the spaniel field. Live game Trials had arrived in New Zealand.

I will not dwell on the Pointer and Setter Club as I have little knowledge of their activities, but we can assume a similar format is followed to the spaniel trials with the difference obviously being the amount of ranging and how the dogs handle their game.

The format for a working spaniel trial is simple. We go hunting. The dogs are run in 20 minute runs. Two judges adjudicate - with one judge for each dog running. Once all of the dogs have had a run, there is pause as those dogs with eliminating faults - giving tongue, hard mouth, unsteady, missed game, etc… - are discarded. The judges then

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