For discussion on anything retrieving related - trialing, training equipment, news, etc.

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Postby Karl Britton » Tue 18 Jul 2017 9:04 pm

I am cognisant of the ability to make some potential rule changes next year. This is the reason I am keen to start a dialogue and garnish some thought on what we have, if it works and most importantly if there is anything we could do to improve or make changes to the rules that are currently in place.

I am also aware that it could be a contentious issue so I would ask fellow handlers and judges to keep an open view of what could be a great fact finding tool which can be used to gather information on the site to support the State RAFT Committees when making a proposal or a rule change in the future.

My own initial thoughts are just that my own and having counseled other trialler’s around the country on ways to improve what we already have in place which are a tried and proven product, I do however, think some things could change slightly and be worded differently, so it is clear and no ambiguity exists. I am also aware that some rules should be left, as they are to allow the judge to make that call on the day.

I will sign off for now and be bold enough to suggest a couple of things without uploading the site too quickly and just concentrating on one area at a time. The first area I would like handlers to consider are concepts.

An area I see we could make some changes for both the judge and competitor is the Double Fall and Two Bird. Why can’t either the double fall or two bird be used off a blind leg retrieve?

Is there a reason why this can’t occur? Has it always been from a mark retrieve leg? If so why? When a trained dog understands that concept they will pick the bird when told by the handler and not before.

Double rise: This concept that is not a great habit at all, I understand the theory behind it, but as both a handler and Shooter struggle with this as some of you may have experienced in a competition when a dog double rises again. It teaches a dog all the wrong habits to go back to an old fall where they have previously found a bird, this is really bad and can become a habit if not careful.

Why do we have such a concept that teaches dogs such a bad habit, when as a hunter I have no desire to keep sending my dog back to the same area again and again?

I have several other ideas, which I’m happy to put on this site month after month to test the water to see if there are any others that support that idea or have any other ideas for the good and benefit of the sport. I look forward to hearing your reply and thoughts about this vast subject.

Yours in trialling,

Karl Britton

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Karl Britton
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat 01 Mar 2008 4:05 pm
Location: Lady's Pass, Victoria


Postby Allan Bartram » Wed 19 Jul 2017 2:12 pm

Hi Karl,...a brave man to establish this !!
First of all, great to be able to discuss rule issues in an open forum.
Now...........Why can't you do a two bird off a blind?????? I can't see anything preventing it and am sure over the years I have done such a retrieve many times .
Certainaly the current rules don't allow double falls off a blind, but you can do one off a memory mark (as opposed to a "go bird" )....doesn't make sense , I would be in favour of changing that rule.
Double Rise...I see no reason to change the rules. As a shooter too ,I have on many ( well a few !) occasions been lucky enough to get a left & right with the trusty old blunderbus and birds have fallen out of sight over the river but in a similar area...the double rise command has been invaluable on these occasions...exactly as described in the rules.
I always teach a comletely different command for the double rise exercise...why would a dog be confused if it properly understands ?
I personally enjoy, both as competitor & judge, a well planned double rise in conjuntion with a two bird or even double fall..and feel it adds an extra concept to our retrieves.

Just my six pennoth worth .
Allan Bartram
Posts: 257
Joined: Mon 04 Jul 2005 1:56 pm
Location: PERTH WA


Postby Karl Britton » Mon 24 Jul 2017 9:09 pm


Staying with the theme of concepts and the theory used behind training a Gun dog, is it pertiant that distances should now be increased to what we already have in the current rules? Coupled with that complexity of retrieves should we be asking the dogs to do more?
I would not like to see an increase in distances for marked retrieves but feel there is some room or latitude to allow a judge to set a run if the countryside presented a longer challenging blind bird. I have experienced when out shooting, birds that have locked their wings out and glided an unbelievable distance 300 to 500 mtrs. I’m not suggesting we have a blind put on at that distance, but would be happy to take something on above 150 up to 250 mtrs. Again that would be if the countryside and terrain allowed that sought of distance if something was realistically suitable or you were in an area where it really could happen, like a steep sided valley with a creek line in it.

An area where we could try and improve the ability of great marking dogs would be to produce a quad mark! This could be a mixture, of maybe one short mark 40 to 70 mtrs, one medium mark 70 to 90 mtrs and two long, one at 120 to 130 and one at 140 to 150. Have the marks really spaced out, not pinching of corners and certainly no tricks to catch the dog out just honest clear marks, give them a real fighting chance to show they understand selection, memory and can judge depth.

Other combinations could be a double mark, or walk up mark, followed by a go to bird, then a double fall on the way out and a two bird on the way back. You would test every aspect that could occur when you have shot a couple of birds and send your dog for the last one. I’ve certainly experienced this several times when a dog is going out for a single retrieve of birds getting up in a similar area of where a bird has just fallen.

Or another combination could be a “double” double fall, where two birds have got up as a dog has gone out to do a retrieve on a bird you have just shot. That would be a great test of control.

There is a multitude of combinations in the concepts we have that could be utilised slightly different or increased if the rules allowed the judge more latitude to mix and match. Coupled with the geography of the countryside allowing a type of run like that; due to the advancement of the great sporting crop of Gundogs we currently have. I have quite often shot several birds in a period of minutes when my dog has been retrieving in one area and on his way back with the retrieve I have shot another bird and continued shooting. Then relied on my dog having a rough idea to find those birds down. I could give you examples but do not want to labour on a story but would rather present a suggestion for another interpretation of a concept of what could happen when shooting.

Yours in Trialling,

Karl Britton
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat 01 Mar 2008 4:05 pm
Location: Lady's Pass, Victoria


Postby Heather Ellis » Sun 06 Aug 2017 12:01 pm

Thanks Karl for beginning this post. So good to see some open discussion about our trials, how to judge, how runs could be enhanced and developed etc. I suggest that the level of dog work in Australia has certainly developed dramatically over the last several years and feel we could certainly add some further concepts to further this development. Why stand still?

I like the idea of a quad mark. The way Karl describes it would be the ideal and ONLY if the terrain lends itself to setting such a run. It would be a pity if this run was passed and then pinched so tight that it went back to being a test of control rather than of marking. I would suggest some tight control of the wording would be in order to prevent just that eventuality.

I do love the Double Rise concept. It certainly requires a separate command so that the dog understands clearly that this is THE ONLY time when they are allowed to return to hunt in an old area of fall. I'd actually like to see a blind double rise brought in. There are times in our terrain in WA where it would be ideal to set a blind double rise where we have limited sky line so no chance of a two bird on the blind but perfect blind conditions allowing the added difficulty of a double rise.

Looking forward to further comments from across Australia!
Heather Ellis
Heather Ellis
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun 16 Mar 2014 8:20 pm

Sagacity Verses Lines

Postby Karl Britton » Tue 08 Aug 2017 7:35 pm

Sagacity is often banded about, mentioned both in the dog trialling circuit and the rules, but more recently by handlers in articles presented on the RA site, but what does it mean?

We know the dictionary interpretation of sagious means having good judgement or wise! The thesaurus states the following; sagious adjective, they were sagious enough to avoid any outright confrontation: wise, clever, intelligent, knowledgeable, sensible, sage, discerning, judicious, canny perceptive, insightful, perceptive, astute, shrewd, prudent, thoughtful, insightful, peracious, and this is the one that really hits home, opposite to foolish!

So are we really saying a dog can be all of that or is it a word we like to use when a dog has done something to our liking? Have we got this wrong by including it in our rules, if we are not going to allow the dog to literally think on its feet, make a decision to tackle a piece of terrain or deviate from a blind line that they are expected to take?

For example I would like to present a short scenario;

A bird is shot the other side of a fast flowing river. The direct line to that mark is from you to where the bird has fallen on the other side, but to your left is a footbridge crossing over the river. You send your dog for the bird, he runs down to the edge of the river, looks at the bridge and decides he can do the retrieve quicker by running up stream crossing the bridge and collecting the bird on the other side returning the same way. The dog does just that, locates the bird and returns via the bridge the dog remains dry so does the bird.

Or are we really saying, that regardless of the situation presented to the dog, that the most direct line to shot game is the most desired approach to all situations? Because if it is, then we all should be quite clear in what is expected of a dog in this situation going across the bridge, although wise and clever possibly sagious, it is not the desired path or line they should take. Therefore, what are we trying to do when competing and a run is presented or a shooting scenario of what could occur when out in the field, are we really saying lets take away any judgement from a dog and teach it to run straight lines and nothing but.

Rules for retrieving trials: Then if this is the case we should look at either rewording Para 94 of the rules and remove sagacity and amend the purpose at the beginning of rules, Para 2 and 3 to reflect, a dog that strides the most direct route from the release of the handler to the point of the retrieve, i.e. the best line, which would include all the other great cries of retrieving briskly and without too much disturbance to the ground etc.

This is an area that requires some healthy discussion of potential rule change as there is a misnomer on our interpretation of the two and it is something that requires clarifying for both the judge and competitor.

Depending… and I am not predicting any change or the outcome of what I have mentioned, coupled with this would be the score sheet, which would require a review to possibly reflect the outcome as we subconsciously divide the retrieving score of 45 for the retrieve, into areas as a judge that suits our interpretation, i.e. line out, line back, nose, eyes, ears aswell as face cover or the obstacle that was presented on the run and delivery. But nothing is black and white, to say that is what we must do or will help us to award an accurate score of what occurred on that run, or as a competitor if your dog runs around the obstacle presented before you, you shall not receive a great score and it will be reflected accordingly in the score sheet.

I have only briefly touched on this vast subject and I think that there could be room for improvement both from a competitors’ point of view on what they must do to train their dog to become more successful. To correctly tackle runs and coupled with that what a judge should be looking for when setting runs whilst judging a dog over that run and taking into account conditions on the day.

Expecting a dog to swim a very narrow spit of water, who can quickly hop out and run down the side does not allow the dog to offer sagacity in its judgement! So as a judge if we want dogs to tackle an obstacle or line in a specific way the obvious direct line being from the handler to the retrieve, then the obstacle must be large enough to become just that a “large obstacle” that still presents the most desired direct and quickest route to the retrieve, then it is the best option to take. This gives the dog a fighting chance of presenting itself as an honest dog that has got sagacity and working with the handler. If not, a dog will avoid that obstacle, run around putting itself off line, depending on the situation a dog may or may not correct itself and if it does indeed correct itself and you are sharp enough to spot this when it occurs, you could say that dog displayed good sagacity.

Yours in trialling,
Karl Britton
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat 01 Mar 2008 4:05 pm
Location: Lady's Pass, Victoria


Postby Karl Britton » Sat 02 Sep 2017 6:12 pm


Background: Over the last several years it is evident that our Sport is declining and numbers are decreasing. Each year we gain a couple of newbies but sadly due to ill health or age the outgoing members of the trialling fraternity is leaving quicker than we can recruit new handlers. Add to this handlers frustrations of going out early on the first run, then suddenly its just not cost effective to compete and travel anymore. If you can’t finish a trial and place, it becomes frustrating and eventually some competitors walk away. We are losing more people than we gain.

Sounds familiar, so how do we encourage new people into the Sport? Even something more fundamental how do we encourage people to stay for the long haul? What can the trialler gain that is dedicated and committed to training, putting in the effort week after week and not getting anywhere fast for several reasons, what can they get from the Sport?

All of us are amateurs we have not had professional training and we do not do this for a living. Of course we would like to finish a trial and hopefully in the bigger scheme of things win a few and gain a title. Lets be honest not every dog is going to be a Retriever Champion, not all of us have the ability, inclination or the time and effort to put into a fully trained all age dog, but we do enjoy our sport and our dogs are trained to a standard.

So where is the measure for the majority who train when we can, maybe once or twice a week, we really enjoy the social aspect of trialling but don’t know how to train or handle a dog, but would be happy to stay in Novice for as long as you could, or don’t have any desire to progress further to higher-level competitions and really want to trial our dog. If you do fully understand obedience and your dog can retrieve, is steady to shot, can do single marks and the dog enjoys water you can normally succeed in Novice.

What do you do when you have three Novice wins then win that last two trials, you have the following titles NRD and QND the answer is you don’t, you don’t go anywhere and a lot of people walk away from the Sport.

What if we change our rules so you could stay in whatever level of competition you felt comfortable with, but still could strive for a secondary title.

This is my suggestion, why don’t we have a “Standard” title gained by points that you must earn by competing in whatever level of competition you choose prior to elevating and placing in the next higher stake.

“STANDARD” There must be a minimum standard achieved to gain a title. A suggestion or compromise is to allow competitors to stay in the level of competition they feel comfortable if it’s Novice, Restricted or All Age. If they don’t want to progress then allow them to stay, but regardless of whether they have gained a Novice title or other they now start competing for, “Novice Hunter” title, or “Restricted Hunter” or “All Age Hunter” and this title comes after the dogs name, not before so it does not get confused with the NRD, RRD or RTCh title. But you must earn it at a specific standard.

My suggestion is this; you compete and must finish a trial with a minimum score of 120 points per trial, more if you can.

This must be documented by the individual running the dog, on a set form signed and witnessed by the Judge of the day, this does not count towards the overall score. Your aim is to try and gain a total of 6000 points (That would be 50 trials as a minimum or less if you gain a higher score than 120), over the dog’s competitive career.

Upon completion of that achievement you gain the title (of that level of competition) you are aiming to pass. It’s not a retrospective pass by completing a trial, like the system we are operating at the moment; where you are required to finish five, seven or ten trials with any score. This is the opposite you must achieve a minimum standard in that level of competition you are running your dog in. Anything less than 120 points on completion will not count to your accumulative score.

I think this would be of help to anyone, clubs looking for numbers to make a competition and in particular trialler’s competing who do not feel comfortable to progress to the next level for whatever reason. It would also gain further entries in lower level competitions something we are occasionally lacking, with the amount of trials cancelled this year by insufficient competitors and dogs required to compete as a minimum, normally four dogs and four different handlers (Or 2 different handlers and four different dogs in Nov and Rest Rule 48).

Plus you gain a title earned at a standard and this has a connection to hunting or retrieving where as a qualified certificate (QND, QRD) does not, this just means you finished a trial. You would have an acronym connected to a working gundog something that you could use as a performance based measure to inform people what your dog is or has achieved.

In the meantime you can still compete at that level of competition to try and gain NRD, RRD or RTCh, but once you have gained the normal retrieving title you can’t place any longer, you continue to trial for points in excess of 120 plus. Once you gain that “Hunter” title you must move into the higher trial to continue competing. This could easily be achieved in a three to five year trialling career.

Summary: Hopefully I have not lost too many people and it is a general idea, I have been thinking about how to try and encourage handlers to stay in the sport longer as you can get a qualification that is meaningful and is a base level standard for you to achieve. The real schematics can be fully ironed out by the RAFT committees of the States and the level of detail required to make it work, but the emphasis would be on the competitor to keep an accurate timely record witnessed and signed off by the judge of the day.

I would be delighted to hear from other people on how we can encourage people to stay for the long haul whatever ability trainer they are, or what they would like to achieve from the Sport. I would also relish the opportunity to discuss and develop this general idea further or welcome feedback on other ideas or suggestions.

Yours in trialling,

Karl Britton
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat 01 Mar 2008 4:05 pm
Location: Lady's Pass, Victoria


Postby Karl Britton » Sun 18 Mar 2018 12:31 pm

To the Trialling Community,

Please click on the link below which is a summary of the information I have gathered through this site and generally talking to competitors and triallers around the country,

Kind regards,


http://retrieving.org.au/ra/articles/KB ... 180316.pdf
Karl Britton
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat 01 Mar 2008 4:05 pm
Location: Lady's Pass, Victoria


Postby Prue Winkfield » Mon 19 Mar 2018 7:06 pm

Agree 100 percent with banning double rise. If one does shoot two birds in close proximity two birds fall and are visible otherwise second one is a blind. Already gutting 2 bird off blind seems fine. Not sure about double fall though.

Lets get some more discussion.
Prue Winkfield
Posts: 705
Joined: Fri 14 Feb 2003 9:17 am
Location: victoria

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