Gundog Working Tests

So, you’ve decided to have a go at working your Bracco?

That’s great news and there are several options open to you, on a shoot, field trials, working tests, falconry or tracking.

What I would say is that whatever you choose to do, good solid training and a dog that is under control is the key especially if you want to take your dog on a shoot, the last thing we want is people remembering the Bracco for the wrong reason as sadly its always the bad ones that get talked about.

This is the first in a series of articles about working you dog and as the working test season is just around the corner that seemed a good starting point.

Working Tests – Are what we do in the summer, they are competitions designed to test your dog and where you are with your training, they are a fun day out with your dog and like minded people. Most HPR breed clubs and gundog societies run working tests. They usually consist of at least 3 classes, puppy for dogs between 6 and 18 month, Novice for dogs that have never won a novice class and open for dogs that have won out of novice. Some societies put on special classes, special beginners, novice dog/ novice handler, graduate and veteran. Schedules are available via the club secretaries and will usually be advertised on the internet on HPRFTINFO or facebook HPR pages.

Entries usually close a week before the test.

Am I ready for a working test?

I would suggest that if you have done some basic training then yes go along and give it a go.

Unlike field trials I believe that working tests are 80% training and 20% luck and are easy to do well in. Basically if you can get your dog to go a fair distance in a straight line, stop and redirect him then you are in with a good chance.

What happens on the day?

When you get to the venue report to the secretary or helper who will book you in and give you your number and running order (this is a lit of all the dogs in your class)

The Chief steward will gather everyone round about 15 minutes before the start and will introduce the judges and land owner (if present) they will also do the housekeeping ie tell you about the risk assessment and insurance details, local
vet details, and lunch times and any other relevant information. Each class will have 4 exercises to complete, there will be a hunting test, a water test and two retrieves which can be anything from a simple straightforward seen retrieve in puppy to a complicated multi seen/blind combination in open, you may also be required to retrieve fur or feather in open.

When the judges have finished, there is usually a time delay before prizes are handed out as scores have to be added up and double checked, this is an onerous task that needs to be done paying meticulous attention to detail.

When the prizes are ready to be handed out the chief steward will gather everyone around, this is always an exciting time with everyone waiting in anticipation. The puppy class results are first and the prizes are handed out in reverse order to add to the anticipation.

Prizes usually consist of a rosette and prize card but some club also give other prizes and trophies.

At the end of prize giving the judges will make general comments on the day but you can speak to the judges after for an opinion or to discuss your performance, That said, most judges will have discussed your performance after each test. With a bit of luck, you will have done well and if not, there’s always next time, hopefully you will know where you went wrong and can go away and practice
Working tests are and should remain a fun day out.

Foot note – One thing you never do at either a trial or working test is criticise the land, the landowner, gamekeeper or Judges. If you do have a complaint speak quietly to the Chief Steward.

Sue Parr

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