Spaniel Journal Home Page

The Nationals:
Is It Time To Raise The Bar?
by Bob Sansom

The goal at the beginning of every Field Trial season is to qualify your dog/s for the National Competition. We all wish to end the trial season competing in our premiere event and for decades a single point has been enough to qualify. For the year 2002, a single point once again can take you to the "Show".

Bob Sansom

As the popularity of our sport has grown, so have the number of dogs and clubs offering competitions and opportunities to qualify. Our National event may well have 150 competitors this fall and I feel the time is overdue to toughen the qualifications.

It takes exceptional dogs and handlers to make it all the way through the Nationals and I honor and salute any who can keep it together for five land series and water work. The National winners of the USA and Canada continue to be awesome animals. It seems that great dogs are still winning our most coveted awards; why not leave things as they are?

A National event now takes a full five days to put on. Judges are doing their best to remember each and every dogs performance, weighing and comparing the infinite variables within the competition. After awhile, with no opportunity for breaks or time for reflection, a judge can find it difficult to stay focused and objective, especially when time constraints force dog processing instead of dog testing.

Sometime shortly after getting hooked on field trials, I concluded that there were four elements that needed to come together to succeed: the dog, the training, the handler, and the most fickle of all, the quality of luck. Under trial judgment we see the four components come together. The handler takes their dog through his paces telling us of Control and Training. As the dog does his field work, we make a judgment of not only training but talent. And then there's luck. If all conditions for every dog could be the same, luck would play a very minimal role and judging could be very straightforward, (boring, but straightforward). The reality is, of course, conditions cannot be replicated exactly, (thank goodness) and so each run is unique, making "luck" a participant in this all too subjective game we play.

I label it "Quality of Luck" because what could be bad luck for one dog is good luck for another. If I own a dog that nails 100+yard retrieves, I want long, difficult retrieves. If I have a dog that handles, I don't mind a blind retrieve.

Page 1

| Spaniel Journal | Next Page |

Copyright © Spaniel Journal 2002, all rights reserved