February 2nd: The end of the shooting season and field trial year, a sad day for some but the opportunity for spring pointing for some. Spring Pointing is a great opportunity for handlers who lack opportunity and facilities to work their dogs on open ground and game and assess the potential of their young dogs.
So what is spring pointing?
Spring Pointing tests are an opportunity to assess a HPR dog’s natural working ability in the field. Dogs are assessed as either a Junior dog; (for dogs over 6 months of age and under two years on the 1st January in the year of the test) and Adults. Junior dogs will normally take priority if a draw of runners is required. Spring Pointing Tests should be limited to 12 dogs.
Spring Pointing typically takes place between March and April, when game birds are pairing up prior to nesting and held on Partridge, Spring Pointing Test (SPT) and also Grouse, Grouse Pointing Test (GPT), Grouse tests can also be held in early August. Tests will be held on open ground, over crops, or in the case of a GPT, on open moorland. The spring crops need to allow cover for the birds but still allow the dog to cover the ground at pace and to also be seen by the judges.
Unlike Field Trials and Working Tests, spring pointing tests are not a competitive environment, as every dog has the opportunity of being graded and is individually assessed and graded on their own merits. Gradings can be awarded of.Excellent, Very Good and Good.
Where possible each dog will be given fresh ground and hunted into the wind for about 10 minutes. Dogs are assessed on how they hunt the ground allocated to them, with a view of them finding and pointing game.
Steadiness is not a full requirement of Spring Pointing, although an out of control dog will be quickly picked up, the judging emphasis is more towards the natural ability of the dog and assessment is given in the following order of priority; ground treatment, game finding, pointing and steadiness.
In my own experience, pointing tests are friendly, informal days, where help and advice can be offered from the judges, although these are not training days.
As you are likely to have only one spring pointing season to run your Junior dog, and it can be more difficult to gain a run under the ballot system for oversubscribed tests as an Adult dog, then it is a great opportunity to give you and your young dog the opportunity in the field if you can.
If you are thinking of entering any training, tests, or events, it is also an idea to join any HPR clubs you might be interested in, or that hold events close to you, as members will always take priority over non-members.
For anyone interested in any aspect of working their dogs, Gundog
Working Tests, HPR Training, Spring Pointing, or Field Trials, the www.HPRFTINFO.co.uk page is a fabulous site. You can also refer to the Bracco Italiano Club website, which is updated regularly.