Re: Wild Bird Trials
Posted by Gavin Gold on 6/22/2012, 2:43 pm, in reply to "Re: Wild Bird Trials"
Don, they stopped trialling on horseback before my time, about 40 years back I am told. Even back then it was typically judges mounted, contestants on foot. |
As I understand it there were a few reasons why we shifted to foot.
1. Expense and trouble. Far more expensive and difficult to bring and care for a horse as well as a dog. And far more effort for the home club to host.
2. Inclusiveness. Plenty of our triallers ride and own horses, but considerably more don't. If we required horses the number of contestants would be cut dramatically.
3. Venue limitations. Because each brace gets fresh ground and because our best venues allow dogs to range a considerable distance to each side we use a lot of ground in a days trialling. Some of our best venues are in areas where horses either aren't allowed or aren't encouraged - they are pretty destructive on the environment and on the farmers land in certain areas. Most venues cross multiple fence lines - we typically cover more than 10 miles in a straight line in a day and this normally means crossing at least 10 fences. Other venues start a comsiderable distance from the headquarters, often with 4 wheel drives having to take people up mountains - it wouldnt be practical to get horses there. And other venues are too steep and rocky for horses to cover comfortably.
4. One of our judging criteria is that the dog is supposed to save the handlers legs by covering the ground for him, and we don't see the need for the dog hunting to the front at speed in the way you like, if they are missing good ground to the sides. A typical 20 minute brace will involve the handlers and judge and gallery only covering about 1000 yards at a slow walk, while the dogs range anywhere up to 1000 yards to either side - the dogs might end up covering 8 miles or so in the 20 minutes, but the handlers and gallery have had a short stroll. This does make it easier for older handlers and gallery to keep up.
We do have the same issues you have with older triallers having difficulty covering the ground. We experimented with allowing quad bikes, but this didn't work for the same reasons as the horses didn't work. So at the moment we deal with this by wherever possible (not always possible) planning routes that run close to tracks so that people can follow in pick up trucks and contestant can stay in touch with the action until their brace is down, at which time they can get to the start with a relatively short walk. They may not see much, but they can still compete as long as they can walk 1000 yards or so at a decent pace two or three times a day with plenty of rest in between. And given the nature of our best grounds, with a decent pair of binoculars they generally can get a pretty good view, even from a mile away. We have several triallers in our club in their late 70's, and they are tough as old boots and still manage to compete well.
Having said that, I have surveyed a very nice venue for our local trial that would be suited for horses, and the landowner has considerable stabling as well as 10 horses of his own which he would happily offer. If I get enough traction within my club we may well offer a horseback option trial shortly. Handling will still be off foot though.
Hope that answers your questions.
: Gavin Your post was extremely interesting in
: the way you all trial.We have elder folks
: that trial some that need a horse.Why do you
: not allow horses?Some trials here handlers
: are cautioned about rideing near or in feed
: fields.i personally like the method of
: elimination.Then to run the best of the lot
: head to head to pick a true winner.Endurence
: trials here run 3 hours which really culls
: them out
: --Previous Message--
: Hi Don,
: Thanks for your kind words, but I am not
: sure if we are doing it the best - just the
: best we know how. There are definite
: disadvantages to the way we do things -
: hopefully the advantages outweigh the
: To answer your questions:
: Trials are held in Souh Africa, although I
: am told the Scandinavian countries do things
: in a very similar way. I am also told that
: they have an enormous field trialling
: population, considerably larger than that of
: the US. Not sure about that, but seems
: possible. Our field trialling population is
: unfortunately quite small, but it has grown
: over the last few years, with the average
: age of triallists coming down. Between 30
: and 60 dogs at the average championship
: We run our trials from late autumn to early
: spring, coinciding with the hunting season,
: on a wide variety of indigenous wild birds
: (generally more than one species at any
: trial): our greywing is similar to your
: partridge, our spurfowl behave more like
: pheasants, and we have several species of
: quail including quoturnix. Plus guinea fowl
: - the less said about them the better! The
: trials are run on a variety of different
: terrains : ranging from strips between
: planted fields in heavy cover to true
: prairie, to steep mountain slopes covered by
: short grass in sleet and snow. They can in
: theory be run on horseback, and used to be,
: but nowadays are run on foot, for a number
: of reasons which I can go into if you are
: Trials normally last two to three days, from
: sunup to soundown (8.00 to 5.00) normally
: with an hour break for lunch. We try to
: reduce the impact of luck (barren ground,
: weather conditions, etc) by running multiple
: short rounds of between 10 and 20 minutes
: with dogs being eliminated at the end of
: each round. On the last afternoon a few dogs
: are left, and these are run against one
: another repeatedly so judges can compare
: them directly in identical conditions. A dog
: that makes the final round will typically
: run about six rounds for a total of one and
: a half hours over three days - not enough to
: test stamina, one of the main drawbacks of
: our system. It also means that all
: contestants have to follow (with their dogs)
: in the gallery for three days. This sounds
: like a big negative, but is actually a
: positive - after spending three days walking
: with all the other competitors and watching
: every brace there is great camaraderie and
: generally a consensus on the winner. I have
: never heard of a case of cheating, or lying
: about derby age and there is an enormous
: emphasis placed by the gallery and judges on
: good sportsmanship. I am sure this comes
: mainly from the camaraderie and the fact
: that the gallery is there to see everything.
: The amount of ground needed varies. My home
: trial uses less than 20 000ha, of gullies
: and riverbeds and strips between fields. A
: trial I attended last week had, I believe,
: well over 200 000 ha available of steep
: mountain well over a mile high, with the
: home club having mapped out a route that
: picked up the most amount of covies with
: least barren ground, and with several
: alternative routes for different weather
: We do participate in international trials -
: we had a German team out a few years back,
: and have sent teams to Europe. We would be
: more than happy to host a US contingent.
: There is no quarantine requirement from
: either side, and costs of getting dogs out
: are reasonable. So hopefully we will see
: some of you out here!
: --Previous Message--
: Garvin The trials you speak about sound like
: you all are trying to do it the best.Where
: are these trials held and what time of the
: year. I like the fresh ground for each brace
: to run on.How many acres are used and what
: type country and cover are in place? We need
: to give back some to enjoy this great sport
: as you folks are now doing. Thanks for your
: --Previous Message--
: Gary, in my view that is a no-brainier. In
: this part of the world we only trial on
: wild birds and every brace is entitled to
: fresh ground so we need a LOT of land to
: host a trial. All of the triallers, and most
: of the hunters, are fervent
: conservationists.After all, we have the most
: to lose if birds or habitat are lost. And as
: a result we are on very good terms with most
: of the conservation land owners - we
: recently even held a large trial on a RAMSAR
: site which no-one else can visit unless
: accompanied by a park ranger. Because they
: knew they could trust us, and the local club
: had volunteered a lot of time to conducting
: game bird surveys, which is a good measure
: of the health of the eco-system. Of course
: we also have to balance this by remaining on
: good terms with the farmers (and plenty of
: the triallers here farm themselves). But not
: a difficult balancing act.
: And if you don't like the way quails forever
: are doing things, become active, learn why
: they are doing it their way, and see if you
: can change it from within.
: --Previous Message--
: Well my question is should we as field
: trialers join quail forever and try to get
: help get the wild bird population back, like
: it was in past. Do you think this would help
: jump start the population of quail. I am
: going to my first quail forever chapter at
: the end of this month in va beach. Just
: checking it out what they have to offer to
: help raise the quail population here an in
: NE NC and Va. It's worth a try.
: If we don't do anything just set back,
: nothing done nothing gained.
: --Previous Message--
: How many horseback AA wild bird trials are
: there now? How many have enough birds to
: really run a fair test of a quality field
: trial performance? I'm asking this for a
: reason as I want to visit and/or compete in
: as many of these as possible over the next
: few years. I'd hate to leave any out in
: planning my journeys.
: I'm assuming the prairie trials are all on
: wild birds so the Dakotas, MT and Canadian
: prairie trials are all on wild game. Any
: What about the chicken events in Wisconsin?
: Are there enough birds to make it a true
: Trials in Kansas used to all be run on wild
: quail and chickens/pheasants and there are
: still wild birds to be pointd on most of the
: trial grounds. Many though are supplemented
: with throw down coveys or pre released birds
: in the early fall.
: Field Trial Clubs in KS running ONLY on wild
: birds are the Gyp Hills Club in Medicine
: Lodge, KS (quail, occasional pheasant) and
: the High Plains Club (pheasants, quail and
: chickens) in Hill City, KS.
: The South Georgia-North Florida plantations
: are all wild quail unless someone would care
: to correct my assumption.
: Please name others in the south for me and
: the grounds that you know about in terms of
: the quality of courses, etc. I have heard
: that some AA trials in the south are alot of
: riding for a couple bird contacts in a day.
: I used to think the out west Chukar trials
: were wild bird events but found out they are
: mostly throw down events. Is this true for
: all of them?
: Many Texas trials were on wild birds in the
: past but with the drought and unknown bird
: loss causes in West TX, quail numbers are
: really low. Access to the big ranches for
: trialing is limited these past 10 years or
: so also. Few or no major trials are held in
: TX right now.
: Are the Western Oklahoma trials still
: strictly wild birds and is there enough to
: not make it a "luck" trial where
: the dog that points the only birds wins?
: Let's hope these current wild bird trials
: can all continue and that the wild quail
: populations that have thrived in South
: Georgia can expand their range thru natural
: migration or help.
: Thanks for your help and comments!