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UKC Finalizes Field Trial Rules Revision Project
Posted on 03/06/2008 in Notes From The Field.

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UKC Finalizes Field Trial Rules Revision Project
Kalamazoo, Michigan The United Kennel Club, Inc. has finalized the project of updating the initial UKC Field Trial Rules which were enacted when the hunting program, based on the European methods and traditions of field trial evaluation of pointing dogs, was launched several years ago. The updated version of the Rules became effective on September 15, 2006. Copies of the new rules booklet, including the Rules and Regulations applicable to the TAN (Natural Ability Test) are now available from UKC and on the UKC web site.

The update came about as a result of effort and input from various clubs and individuals involved in the UKC Pointing Program. “FBGDA members and affiliated clubs had considerable and significant input over the last few years into what became the final end product desired by UKC”, said Fred Overby, President of FBGDA. While the UKC as sanctioning authority actually promulgates and enforces the rules, effort was made to keep the product as close a possible to the system of field trials in Europe. “Our topography and bird situation in the United States is different than that in Europe, and we needed something that will work in this country”, said Todd Kellam who is in charge of the Pointing Dog Program for the United Kennel Club Inc. While there are numerous field trial venues already established in America, Europe basically has one system. This makes it a bit more challenging to launch and build a program like the one UKC has implemented. After a period of several years to test and get the quirks out of the first set of rules and the administrative aspects of the program, UKC now hopes to see UKC approved pointing dog clubs begin to include all pointing breeds in many of their field trials and TAN events at the local level.

No substantive rule changes were enacted with regard to the TAN, but some of the previous provisions were clarified.

The stake previously known as Novice Field Trial Class has been renamed the Gun Dog Class. In this stake a dog may now Pass, but not place, if it stands steady to flush. Previously, dogs were required to be steady to wing which caused some confusion and was a requirement many dogs were not ready for coming out of TAN qualifications. Dogs that receive three Passes, may now earn a HUNT title which is the first level field trial title.

Requirements to earn the GUN title, in the Gun Dog Class were not relaxed and remain the same. A dog must stand Steady to Wing (that is through the flush AND all the way up to that point where the gun is fired) in order to earn a placement in the Gun Dog Class. In type (L) shot bird trials in the Gun Dog Class, the dog must retrieve to hand or within fifteen (15) feet of the handler in order to secure a pass or better score.

In the Open Class, the requirements remain virtually identical to the requirements as they were previously and as they presently are in European trials. In the demanding Open Class, the dog must be broke steady to wing and shot and must retrieve to hand in shot bird trials, only upon receiving authorization from the judge. In addition to requiring three wins for designation as Champion of the Field, UKC enacted a new title known as Grand Champion of the Field (“GRCHF”). In order to earn this title, the dog must win a total of five field trials, with at least two of those wins being in field trials run in braces. Dogs earning a “GRCHF” must demonstrate they can win in both single and braces competitions in type (W) wild and type (L) liberated bird trials.

One of the more debated issues was the grounds requirement. UKC decided to allow type (L) liberated bird trials to be run on two types of courses: Multiple Successive Courses and Limited Successive Courses. While the multiple successive course format previously utilized is still preferred, the Limited Successive Course format does allow trials to be run by clubs in areas where large grounds are not available, by having no less than two forward and two back courses, or at least four separate courses. However, in order to obtain the titles of Champion of the Field (CHF) and Grand Champion of the Field (GR CHF) there are limitations on the number of wins which may be achieved under the Limited Successive Course format in order to count towards the most honored titles in the Open Class. Under the new version of the rules, all wild bird Type (W) trials in either Open or Gun Dog Class will still be run under the same grounds requirement as previous.

In addition to Passes and Placements, there is now a Pass with Honor available for dogs who perform well enough to place, but do not earn First or Reserve in a given trial. This is intended to be equivalent to the European score of Excellent.

There are other administrative modifications and refinements in the updated rules, but the basic format remains the same for both classes. The intent of the rules updates is to establish a program beginning with the TAN, whereby a dog and handler may progress to the Gun Dog Class and in to the Open Class. A dog that performs well in the Open Stake in America under the UKC Field Trial Rules should perform well in any field trial in Europe. All those interested in participating in upcoming field trials should familiarize themselves with the updated rules.