Judging Marks

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Judging Marks

Postby Karl Britton » Thu 27 Jan 2022 1:37 pm

I’m not a fan of commenting on social media, so I will try and keep this simple and answer the question directly, I am happy to elaborate if required:

I believe in whatever system you use, you must have a start state and the aptitude to be able to break that 45 points down into manageable chunks that your brain can process in what occurs. I know every judge has a formula of doing this, either mentally or providing several extra boxes on their score sheet. As we know it’s more in-depth judging a sight picture to what has just occurred compared to what our score sheet presents.
So holistically you need a system that works for you to capture the moment as the run unfolds. Why do we need this? If you keep referencing the rules and you have complied with everything the rulebook suggests and dictates your starting state is, to bring the work of each dog within ambiguity of equality where assessment is fairly made. We must have a system that represents as much as that reflects and embodies this spirit, in everything we present on our course on that day, testing dogs that’s as equal and as fair as possible. It’s easy to trick dogs’ I try not too, keeping all this in mind!

Can we accurately place a set penalty on all marks when a dog is competing and give a standard 5-point deduction for the first handle? I don’t believe you can, you must have a much deeper sense of what just took place and why, I will present some scenarios soon.

We have the generic scoring system of 10, 45 and 10 total 65. The area we are taking about here is the 45. I personally judge each run or leg if it’s a double or triple out of 45! I find it gives me more scope and I get a bigger picture, I then divide the legs by two or three. To give me the final score.

When setting marks you are going to assess the following criteria, Direction, Depth and Area. The rules also state the best way of locating game is to take a direct line from point A to B.

My score sheet is similar to Trevor’s,

Direction out 15
Marking 20
Depth 5
Direction in 5

I do not have this broken down into other units or boxes on my score sheet, I have a very similar score sheet to the ANKC Retriever Trials example. I try where possible to be totally focused in the moment when the run is taking place to what is happening and why. I try not to look down at my score sheet at all until towards the end or there is a major penalty that must be recorded. The majority of my work is good old mental arithmetic and observing the big picture unfolding, I have the confidence to do this, but didn’t whilst starting out. I, like many people used lots of boxes and would sometimes find myself looking down at the score sheet too much trying to write a penalty down! As this is a negative scoring system, I do not nit pick or look for personal idiosyncrasies, I try and judge everything I see, and how I would like to be judged. Be professional and courteous at all times, let the handler relax and concentrate on running their dog while having a great day. I certainly never try to stand too close.

Why is all this important to mention now? For people to understand what a Judge does it may be helpful to explain we are constantly advocating the sport the best way we can and in the fairest conditions that we can present. We will score what we see on the day as that run unfolds trying where possible not to miss a thing!

My deduction on marking, I mentally do this, 10, for the first handle,
7 for the 2nd handle,
5 for the 3rd handle.
3 for the 4th handle.

This is my guide start state for deductions, if required?

The only time I really employ this is on single marks or a go bird. Given all factors are equal it’s a clearly sighted mark following all the criteria as rule 26 states! The dog has nothing else to do but attack that mark without any other distractions. Its one of the only times you see marks picked cleanly.

However, different levels of competition can present different problems and other factors come into play like environmental, I will explain and why I would score this different depending what had occurred.

Example: Single mark, conditions perfect, great sighted bird at 90 mtrs, light cover little bit of swirling breeze.

• Dog takes a direct line, pins the bird without over stepping, 45 Perfect
• Dog is downwind not a great line, banana’s in on it, pings it on the wind, does not actually mark or judges an accurate fall, full marking points, but deduction on line.
• Dog ploughs out at break neck speed just misses it by two metres ploughs passed, recognises the depth, stays in area, systematically hunts the area maybe a 1 point deduction.
• Dog is so excited in the pegs nearly a break, lifts his head looks up at handler, does not watch the bird to the ground; bird hits the ground the handler sends! He goes as fast as he can to the general area, not a great line and its evident he does not know where the mark is! The dog keeps going on a further 30 mtrs past the mark, the handler aware of what is happening, blows a long hard stop whistle, signals and handles him back into the area, misses it again gets a 2nd and 3rd handle probably and likely no marking points, loses all depth points too and loses some from direction out.
• Dog runs out, is the wrong side of the wind, recognises depth turns misses it again is about to leave the area having had a quick hunt, one quick handle, tidy up, maybe 3 to 5 points.

I am not convinced we can have a permanent and fixed point deduction on any penalty or misdemeanour without considerations of everything else that comes into play, there is just too many differences especially environmental conditions, different size birds, colours, bird placement how it comes out of the pouch, different arc, different wind pattern, where the bird lands and sometimes roles.

Blinds, I use a very similar point system and although there is a deduction for maintaining and keeping your dog on line to the blind! That is because it’s not perfect, for every handle that is normally one or two points. If you have deliberately avoided the direct line, false lined your dog, not had a go at what’s in front, the dog runs around and avoids every obstacle then you have most likely failed my test and you will not score high. I want to see the blind attacked.

Why is this? Because with Blinds its 75% handler and 25% dog/training.

Marks it’s the opposite, it’s 90% dog and only 10% handler.

I have tried to be brief, I do hope its of help to aspirant judges, as you’re aware, it does not matter what system you use as long as it works for you and your consistent in your methodology and most importantly you understand what you have deducted and the reason why.
Karl Britton
Posts: 66
Joined: Sat 01 Mar 2008 4:05 pm
Location: 76 Elphin Drive, Squeaking Point, 7307, Tasmania

Re: Judging

Postby Paul Hamson » Fri 28 Jan 2022 7:20 am

Thanks for the explanation Karl.

One of the things I keep in mind, when deciding how many points to deduct from a dog’s score for a less than perfect performance e.g. being handled on a mark, failure to face cover, refusing a direction/cast, having a piss, lack of style, giving tongue etc., is that by deducting points from one dog I am rewarding dogs who don’t demonstrate those faults. This is the counter argument to the statement that judges who start at 65 and deduct points are judging in a negative manner. In order to reward excellent performance you must also be prepared to punish poor performance. I find it easier to start with the assumption that the dog’s performance is going to be worth the maximum allowable 65 points and correct that assumption as the dog’s performance begins to unravel.

For example, if a dog needs to be handled onto a mark I ask myself what should the difference in points awarded be between that dog and a dog that nails the mark - 5, 10, 20? Obviously this will also depend on where the dog is in relation to the mark when handled and how much further assistance it requires. Dogs that need a lot of handling are penalised on a cumulative basis.

What should the difference be between the dog who faces the heavy cover enroute to the game and the dog who avoids it? What should the difference be between the dog who reaches the area of fall on the initial line of a blind without handling vs the dog who is handled immediately after leaving the firing point vs the dog who is almost at the area of fall before needing to be handled etc? What should the difference be between a dog that nails a mark vs a dog requiring one handle into the area of fall vs a dog requiring 5 handles into the area of fall etc.? The perfect performance/picture gets 65, anything less than perfect gets less than 65 on a proportionate basis.

If we take a triple mark for example - it is my view that the dog that shows clear memory of the last bird picked up should be significantly rewarded over the dog that has forgotten it and has to be handled - my scoring for the dog that forgets the mark is negative so that my scoring for the dog who successfully performs the test can be positive. So whilst I understand that expecting a dog to remember the third mark after it has already picked up two marks is a big ask - if I take an overly sympathetic approach to the difficulty of the challenge faced by the dogs and only deduct 1 point for handling on the third mark then I personally feel that I have failed to adequately reward the dog(s) that remembers the third mark.

As you said, judges need a system and need to apply it in a consistent manner. They also need to be continually open to assessing the logic of their system and be prepared to adjust accordingly. Fortunately it is relatively easy to score the excellent and very poor dog work - the stuff in the middle is more challenging.

Paul Hamson
Paul Hamson
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu 15 Mar 2007 9:19 am
Location: Lake Macquarie NSW

Re: Judging Marks

Postby Bob Pickworth » Fri 28 Jan 2022 5:37 pm

Very thorough and well developed comment Karl - also comments by Paul. Thanks for sharing.
Bob Pickworth
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed 17 Mar 2004 9:05 pm
Location: Kurrajong NSW

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