American Field

“To brag little, to lose well, to crow gently if in luck, to pay up, to own up, to shut up if beaten, are the virtues of a sporting man.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

New Field Trial Season, No. 146

Aug 07, 2020

Chicago, Ill. — For more than 100 years, the annual fall field trial season has begun with Canadian prairie trials. Not so in 2020.

The four Canadian stakes  — Saskatchewan, Dominion, Border and  Manitoba Championships —that  have traditionally marked the start of the new season were cancelled.

The coronavirus has turned the world “upside down,” so to speak. Nothing is the same, normal, if you will, and that goes for the field trial pastime too.

While the Fixtures column and the Calendar of Upcoming Events carry an optimistic listing of scheduled trials, there is the added efforts at these trials to maintain participants’ safety and wellbeing.

With the start of No. 146 it is timely to recall the sporting tradition we share and the  obligation to promote and safeguard this time-honored sporting pastime.

Oliver Wendell Holmes’ advice above should be the “words to live by” for all field trial participants. Be humble when you win. Be gracious when you do not.

Also advisable and adopted are the cogent words in a foreword to  the “Biography of Albert F. Hochwalt,” where  Frank M. Young, then  editor of The American Field wrote of Mr. Hochwalt:

“He was always far above jealousies and rivalries, without time or patience for petty bickering . . . he never sacrificed principle to gain popularity . . . and he eschewed that form of criticism which merely tears down, and ever sought to build on a solid foundation.”

Last season’s wins are in the books; the victories, achievements, and perhaps the disappointments are a thing of the past.

Each new field trial season prompts optimism, enthusiasm. It is a new beginning, a fresh start. The COVID-shortened spring season has added an even higher level of anticipation and enthusiasm for the season ahead.

The start of the 2020-2021 season provides an opportunity to review some pertinent items related to the field trial sport, among them the “Minimum Requirements”, the basic regulations governing recognized field trials.

The list of these requirements are appended. They are simple and straightforward; there is no need to dwell on each in detail. However, a few will be stressed and other matters pertinent to the proper conduct of recognized field trials will be noted.

Club officers have the responsibility of ensuring that trials are conducted fairly and in conformity with the Minimum Requirements — that is their first and foremost duty.

When the trial is completed the results — names of the winning dogs, their owners and handlers — are to be submitted to The American Field as soon as possible. Results received well after the trial (60-90 days) cannot be assured that the trial will receive suitable coverage. Trial results (placements) received six months after the conclusion of a trial will not be recognized. This is a great disservice to the winning dogs, their owners and handlers.

• The No. 1 requirement is all-important for the recognition of a club’s trial.

Each week the “Fixtures” column carries the listing of upcoming recognized field trials. The name of the sponsoring club, date and place of the trial, and the name of the club official (phone number and adlesss) accepting entries must be shown in the Fixtures at least fourteen (14) days before the date of the trial. As a rule of thumb, this information should be submitted to The American Field at least thirty (30) days before the trial to ensure that the listing appears within the time frame mandated by this requirement. The same time frame (thirty days) is also a good guideline when submitting advertising copy to announce an upcoming trial.

All clubs hosting trials where placements may qualify a dog for championship competition are to publicize that trial with a suitable advertisement showing: the date and place of the trial, location, time and date of the drawing, the stakes being sponsored and the contact person (name, city and state) who is accepting the entries.

• The second Minimum Requirement highlights the ages of dogs for competing in specific stakes. For the present fall season (July 1-December 31, 2020), dogs to compete in Puppy Stakes must have been whelped on or after June 1, 2019; for the second half of the season (January 1-June 30, 2021), dogs competing in Puppy Stakes must have been whelped on or after January 1, 2020.

Dogs eligible to compete in Derby stakes this season (both for fall and spring) must have been whelped on or after January 1, 2019. Any placements awarded to over-age dogs will be voided.

• When owners and/or professional handlers enter dogs in a trial, they should provide full particulars (i.e.: registered name and number of the dog, breed and sex, color, name of sire and dam) for their entries on the entry form. Club officials are charged with the responsibility of forwarding complete information for the winners. Owners and handlers can assist them greatly by providing specific information on each of their entries.

• The number of dogs competing in a stake determines how many placements the judges may award.

In stakes with three dogs entered and competing, one placement may be awarded; in stakes with four or five dogs entered and competing, the judges may award two placements, and in stakes with six or more dogs, three placements may be awarded. [In a few select events —the Futurities, for example— a fourth place dog may be named.]

• For dogs to receive credit for their field trial placements, they must be registered with the Field Dog Stud Book.

• When a club formally announces its trial,  the “order of running” is the prescribed schedule to be followed. Clubs are to adhere to the published “order of running”.

• Following the conclusion of the trial particulars on the winners (name, number, breed, sex, etc.) should be forwarded to The American Field Publishing Company as soon as possible within thirty days.

Any violation of the Minimum Requirements will result in the voiding of the trial and the placements awarded.

In July, 2003, an editorial announced two new requirements for the seasons ahead.

No. 1. All dogs (and all breeds) winning a championship placement (winner or runner-up) shall be required to have DNA on file with the FDSB. That requirement was subsequently extended to all dogs winning open stakes earning points toward the Top All-Age and Shooting Dog of the Year Awards. DNA kits (instruction sheet, swab to collect cell samples, and an application form) are available and will be sent on request.

No. 2 noted that dogs earning Derby placements shall only receive credit for that win when that dog is registered with the FDSB at the time the win is awarded. (An application in process in the Field Dog Stud Book shall be deemed meeting this requirement.)

One last item pertains to the use of colored collars to distinguish two similarly marked or similar appearing dogs. Custom dictates that the “top” dog shall wear the “red” collar, and the “bottom” dog, the “lime-colored” collar.

Use of electronic devices (retrieval units) at recognized trials will be treated later.

Field trial participants and particularly club officials are advised to keep this article for future reference.



As adopted by Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, The American Field Publishing Company and the Field Dog Stud Book.

Wins will not be recognized and recorded unless the trial and/or each stake in which such win is made conforms to the following conditions:

1. The name of the club, place and date of the trial, the club official’s name,  address  and phone number must be announced in the Fixtures listing of upcoming trials and posted on the American Field web site a minimum of fourteen (14) days before the trials are to be run.

2. Recognized stakes are:

Puppy Stakes: From January 1 to June 30 of each year for dogs whelped on or after January 1 of the year preceding, and from July 1 to December 31 of each year for dogs whelped on or after June 1 of the year preceding.

Derby Stakes: From July 1 to December 31 of each year for dogs whelped on or after January 1 of the year preceding, and from January 1 to June 30 of each year for dogs whelped on or after January 1 of two years preceding.

All-Age: For dogs of any age. An “open” stake is one in which there are no limitations with respect to either dogs or handlers.

An “amateur” stake is one in which all handlers are amateurs as defined by the By-Laws of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America. Winners in Members’ and Shooting Dog All-Age Stakes will be recorded but winners of Children, Ladies’, Brace and other stakes not conforming to the foregoing definitions will not be recognized.

Championship, Winners’ Stakes and Futurities: Wins will be recorded only in such amateur events of this character as are recognized by the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America and in such open events as are recognized by The American Field Publishing Company and the Field Dog Stud Book.

3. The minimum length of heats for all stakes other than Puppy Stakes shall be thirty (30) minutes on the basis of the time that an average brace takes to negotiate the course. In the case of one-course trials, no more than eight (8) minutes of the thirty (30) shall be spent in the birdfield. Minimum length of heats for Puppy Stakes shall be fifteen (15) minutes.

4. A stake must be drawn no later than the night before the day the stake is advertised to be run.

5. Dogs shall not be substituted after the draw.

6. Braces shall be run, and handled, as drawn, unless given prior consent of the judges, which consent must not be given for the purpose of accommodating owners, handlers or dogs that are not available when reached in the regular order of the draw. In the case of withdrawals, the bracemates of such withdrawn dogs may be run together at the discretion of the judges. Bitches which come in season, braced with a male, are scratched.

7. No entry shall be accepted after a stake is drawn.

8. No more than one brace of dogs shall be run on a course or any part of a course at the same time, irrespective of whether the dogs are in the same stake or in different stakes.

9. Stakes shall be run only on recognized game birds whose flight shall not be impaired by caging, hobbling, wing clipping, brailling or in any other manner.

10. Bitches in season shall not be permitted to run in one-course trials. In multiple course trials they may start only if, in the opinion of the judges, it can be accomplished under conditions which will ensure absolute fairness to other entries. Bitches in multiple course trials must be drawn in season and braced with a female.

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