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Springer Spaniel Field Trials

Springer Spaniel field trialling is outdoors competition for working springers, English or Welsh.

The purpose of these competitions is to test the working abilities of the dog, for which, after all, he was bred. Provided the pedigree is good, then conformation is less of an issue and it is performance that counts.

Show dogs can be tested in their working abilities and achieve a Show Dog Working Certificate. Note the words 'Show Dog'. This is a much less demanding test of a dog's working abilities than is a full Field Trial.

Also, there are Working Tests - these are year round events as only dummy game is used and therefore suitable areas for testing ("ground") is much easier to find. Your dog will need to be comfortable with gunshots (though as there is no live game only blanks need be used), and have a good nose and retrieval skills.

Training a dog for Field Trials is highly specialized, which is why many owners will either buy a ready-trained dog (if they are seriously going to use it for real gundog work) or have it trained for them.

If this is the route you plan to take with your dog, then even the initial obedience training is specialized.

The field trial competitions are organised differently depending on country - for example in Australia rabbits are the main game, whilst in England it is game birds, and the dogs will be tested working strips in several types of covert - crops, marsh heathland and so on. In the US, the springers run more widely and 'spring' to flush game - this not usually done in England.

Dogs are scored on various aspects - for example missing game is an elimination fault in the UK, but not in Australia where the dogs are worked in zig zag patterns and not strips. The game density in the UK is much higher than in Australia, so the dogs have easier work in the UK.

The springers work in pairs, one flushing and one retrieving, with rotation. The springers often become competitive, and close control of the dogs is essential when one flushes and the other retrieves close in sight. Each dog should usually get two retrieves in a competition.

The other aspect is that the handler has to be a very good shot, so that the dogs get their retrieves. If not, man and dogs go nowhere in the competition.

On mainland Europe, the field trails may also have some show-line dogs running, as well as the pure field-trial springers. Depending on country, some of these field trials can be quite informal, and lack the rigor you may find in the US or UK.

So, that is a brief summary is what springer spaniel field trials are about. There are many competitions organised every year, and if you want to know more, then just do a search on the web, find one near you, and go along on the day to observe.

This piece was written by a long time springer spaniel enthusiast. Springer spaniel field trials are a great way of putting your springer spaniel training ability to the test. There are many other ways to have fun with him and lots more to discover about this verstaile breed at =>




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