After becoming a member of a Field Trial society, attending training sessions and entering a number of Gundog Working Tests, you may feel ready to enter a Field Trial. Field Trial Societies send schedules to all their members informing them of what trials the Society will be holding for the forthcoming season. The schedule will include the following details:
- The location and date of the Trial/s
- The type of Stakes that will be held. Field Trials can consist of one or more Stakes, which are separate competitions at that Trial and can be limited by the age or previous experience and wins of the dog. You should study the schedule carefully to ensure that you enter the correct Stake for your dog. A description of each Stake will be provided in the schedule and can also be found in the Kennel Club Field Trials Regulations booklet.
- Kennel Club Rules and Regulations that you must abide by when entering and taking part in a Trial. Download a copy of the Field Trial 'J' Regulations here.
- The society may also include their own set of rules that they expect you to abide by.
- A closing date for entries including details of where and to whom the entry should be sent.
- An entry form will be attached to the schedule which should be completed as legibly and accurately as possible; your dog's registered details should be exactly as they appear on the Kennel Club registration certificate and your name and address should be clearly marked to assist the Field Trial Secretary in advising competitors of the draw.*
*After the closing date for entries the Society Committee will conduct a draw to pick the competitors for the Trial. As has already been mentioned, Field Trials are usually over-subscribed so you may not be lucky enough to get a run the very first time you apply for entry. Different types of Trial allow different numbers of competitors and the Trial Secretary will advise all entrants of their placing in the draw. If there are only 20 places available, and you are number 32, you will not get a run unless 12 people in front of you withdraw.
There is a great deal to think about before you go to a Field Trial.
- It is very important to familiarise yourself with the Kennel Club Field Trials Regulations so that you are fully aware of what will be expected of you at the Trial.
- Field Trials are often held in the winter months so you should wear plenty of layers of warm clothing, wellington boots and a waterproof coat are a must. It's also important that your clothes are dark, or in neutral tones - bright coloured garments may startle game.
- You should pack the food and drink you are going to need during the course of the day. Sometimes Judges do not stop for lunch; particularly when there are reduced daylight hours in the autumn and winter, so you should think about things you can eat in the field if you cannot wait until a day's competition is over.
- Field Trials can mean a long car journey so think about your dog's needs too - a good strong travelling box and plenty of water will make its trip comfortable. Remember to pack some dog food as you may not return home from a Trial until late in the evening.
- Although the Schedule and draw will tell you where the Trial is going to take place you should also take a good map with you. Field Trials are usually signposted when you get near to the meeting point but it can often be very difficult to track down exactly which field you need to be heading for.
- Arrive in good time before the start of the Trial.
- Once you have found the meeting point you should let the Field Trial Secretary know that you have arrived. They will mark you as present on the card, which lists all the people and dogs taking part in the Trial, and give you a numbered arm band which you must wear throughout the Trial. This is the means by which you will be easily identified during the Trial.
- Before the Trial starts, a briefing will be held to introduce the host (if present), the gamekeeper and the guns, to explain how the day will run and any special instructions. Competitors must always attend this briefing both for their own interest and to be courteous to the Trial organisers and host.
- After the briefing, everyone will either walk or drive to where the Stakes are to take place. Safety is a very important consideration and spectators, and dogs and owners not competing, must stay behind a red flag carried by one of the Stewards. This ensures that everyone stays clear of the guns and that people do not stray onto parts of the estate they are not meant to.
- During each Stake the Judges will ask each dog to work a number of times under various conditions. Judges will be looking closely at how your dog works, making a note of both its strengths and faults. If your dog commits an eliminating fault it will be excluded from further participation in the Trial. Full details of what is expected of your breed can be found in the Kennel Club Field Trial Regulations booklet.
- If your dog has been eliminated and you wish to leave the trial early always inform the Chief Steward before you depart.
- If you think you will be late to a trial let the Secretary know your expected arrival time so that they can decide whether to wait or invite a reserve to take your place
At the Trial
Handling your dog
- Attending your first Field Trial may cause your dog to behave differently than it does in training. Let your Judge and Steward know that you are competing in your first Field Trial as they will make their directions very clear and offer you help.
- Working Gundogs should be kept under good control at all times, both whilst waiting to compete and during the Stakes.
- All dogs should be trained and worked using plenty of encouragement.
- If for any reason you become aware that your dog is not going to work well - we all have our off days - you should ask the Judge's permission to withdraw. This is a courtesy that must be observed and ensures that the Judges' and Stewards' time is not wasted.
End of the Trial
At the end of the Trial there will be a number of presentations that all competitors are expected to stay for. The host, gamekeeper and guns will be thanked and awards will be handed out to the winners. For an explanation of the Field Trial Awards please click on the link: Field Trial Awards. Gundog Working Test awards are not recorded by the Kennel Club.
The Field Trials Team is here to help. If you have any queries or concerns or would like more information about Field Trials and Gundog Working Tests, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 020751 81059.