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"It is a title that leaves no doubt that the dog is a great hunting dog... it simply has to be."

to set up Rabbit Boards and employ people to try and control their numbers. Yet, in some places, farmers were still forced off their land by rabbits. Dithering by the government meant that farmers took things into their own hands and illegally introduced the calisi virus. This decimated the rabbit population not only in these plagued areas, but also in the areas where we trained our dogs and ran our trials. Live game trials became very much a hit and miss affair for a number of years. However help was on the horizon.

Pheasant preserves began forming in NZ and these provided the perfect venue in which to run trials. As most of our leading dog men offered their services in the beating lines, etc… on the preserves, the requests to hold trials there at the end of the season were favourably met. We now have several preserves willing to have trials held there.

Our preserves have some regulations that make them a little different to many US-style preserves and trials. Most notably, is that all birds released onto a preserve must be released no later than one month prior to the start of the shooting season. There are absolutely no planted birds for our trials or shooting on preserves. The birds are extremely wild; you almost never have tight holding birds and the spaniels relish their task on these wily animals.
Competitors get a debrief from Tim Finlay, Trial Manager,
prior to the start of a Championship in 2003

In recent years the rabbit has made a comeback against the calisi virus. It now features prominently in the trial scene, as does the hare, which was unaffected by the virus. Their numbers on preserves are usually quite high as game keepers keep vermin to a minimum.

So, this brings us to the current day where our wild game trials are held under true shooting conditions in areas which provide ample game to test all dogs. To earn your FC (the "Field Champion" title is different to the "FTCH" title given in pigeon trials), you must win two live game trials. It is a difficult title to attain and will, in the next few years - if it isn’t already, be the most sought after title in trialling. It is a title that leaves no doubt that the dog is a great hunting dog... it simply has to be.

The working blood that has come to New Zealand has been the cream of the crop. All of the best blood from the UK is

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