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The discussion about HT judging is interesting, largely because FT judging elicits similar complaints.

As for "sharper pencils," I would hope that's not the solution, but instead judges setting up better tests.
 

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Lol
I ran 2 maybe 3 Masters last year where the 3 series set up as a double due to time constraints. 6 more dogs yikes! Something gotta give.
Agree
The test have to be challenging and up to the standard of a "finished hunting retriever" or however the rule book states it. Time would not be a problem if dogs that don't mark the birds in the first series were not called back. Gimme tests and call backs for poor performance take the fun and purpose out of the sport.
 

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The discussion about HT judging is interesting, largely because FT judging elicits similar complaints.

As for "sharper pencils," I would hope that's not the solution, but instead judges setting up better tests.
Good setups with great bird placement, is there an app for that? ???
It’s something I feel I still struggle with when setting up for myself.
 

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Good setups with great bird placement, is there an app for that? ???
It’s something I feel I still struggle with when setting up for myself.
Put the birds where the dogs don't want to go. Sounds easier than it is.
Some helpful info in Dennis Voight's "Best Of Online" collections. Home Page
The Retriever blog has sketches and photos of all the series in past National Am's and Open's. 2nd & 3rd Series
I pay very close attention the setups in trials I run or work. The placement of every bird presents a challenge to the dogs, or at least it should. I always try to guess how the dogs will react to the factors in a setup. When I guess wrong I look for what I missed.
In trials or training it is a good idea to photo the setups and take notes of how your dog did.
Of course there is no substitute for training partners with lots of field trial and judging experience.

One thing I have learned, if someone is using a rangefinder to place birds, they have no clue.
 

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I just judged a derby a bit ago and I put a bird where dogs don't want to go. My co judge was upset, said it was a contrary land mark. I've never heard of that. I did it anyway. Boy that was the best mark! The dogs didn't want to go there! the horror! ha ha ha....yeah put the mark where the dogs don't want to go and you will have so much fun judging, ha ha!

But derbies are hard, 8 pure marks...especially on water....
 

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But derbies are hard, 8 pure marks...especially on water....
Yes indeed, Derby Stakes are hard to judge ...
1. you don't want to eliminate all the new-to-field trials dogs too early, so the tests shouldn't be too difficult (ideally, you can set up the first series in such a way that you can tell just how talented the group of dogs is as a whole, and proceed appropriately).
2. there are no blinds.
3. you are directed to judge natural abilities, with much much less emphasis on trained aspects of retrieving ... this is the hardest part and the part most often screwed up by Derby judges, to wit:
  • a mark is thrown 45 degrees angle back, Dog A hooks the gun and goes directly to the bird, Dog B runs wide to the outside of the mark (to the same or greater degree than Dog A went to the other side of the mark), yet Dog B is deemed to have done a better job because Dog A committed the "sin" of hooking a gun ... that's not what the rule book (or FT Judges Manual) calls for.
  • a water mark is thrown such that the perfect line to the bird is cutting a small portion of the corner of a pond (let's say the perfect entry point is 10 feet from the actual corner and the line is 20 yards from the edge of the pond), Dog A skirts around the water and goes directly to the bird, Dog B hits the water and gets out 30 yards deep of the bird but hunts its way back to the bird, often Dog B is deemed to have done better than Dog A because dog A committed the "sin" of avoiding the water ... that's not necessarily what the rule book (or FT Judges Manual) calls for ... admittedly, this one is tougher to make the decision on because the rules state that it's a fault if the dog avoid "rough going" (or something like that), but in my opinion, skirting a corner of water is not necessarily violative of that rule and I'd want to see additional examples of the dog avoiding rough going before judging it as such. [ALSO, that would be a poorly designed test for a Derby ... in my opinion.]
 

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Dog A skirts around the water and goes directly to the bird, Dog B hits the water and gets out 30 yards deep of the bird but hunts its way back to the bird, often Dog B is deemed to have done better than Dog A because dog A committed the "sin" of avoiding the water
In this example Dog A marked the bird and therefore did better.
In a test with good bird placement, dogs that avoid water or cover will put themselves in a bad position and will not likely find the bird without a huge hunt, if at all. The same can be said for all FT stakes. Good bird placement will allow the dogs to succeed or fail according to their talent and training. Nit picking about hooked guns, avoiding a sliver of cover/water or a few seconds of hunt time is what judges have to do after setting up poor tests. JMHO
 

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FT to me I can see where that is just bad judging. ON land I have no problem with hooking guns as long as they go straight to the mark. I would try not to put the bird in a place that if a dog went behind the gun they could wind it. Therefore a hook of the gun would be more marking then a lucky wind save. I also don't judge on "wind" saves because they usually have to be in right area to wind it. There is an amateur that has a pretty well known dog (very) and at training he would always say, oh that dog winded it I wouldn't bring them back. I put a mental check in my book to not run under this guy. He really could read their minds, right? I mean the dog is behind a gun and hooks it and runs right to the bird, that doesn't mean he winded it.
As far the water its really hard to set up four marks in the derby on water and not use training concepts by accident to judge. That's the hardest thing. After training with the derby kind for 2 and a half years I know enough to NEVER put a bird at the end of a pond, all his dogs know to swim there. I also wouldn't want to put a cut corner mark because usually the dogs will skirt around it and hey that's my fault not theres. Plus I don't want to force a handler to pick up their dog for cheating because they want to protect all the training they've put into this young pup. Now if the terrain would come into play if they cheated a corner that's a different story. I remember this one set up that if the dog got out early there was a big tree/bush and it pushed the dogs to square up the hill and totally forget where the gunner was. That was a nice mark even thought it was at the end of the pond.

Oh well, I really like judging. I like it almost more than running trials. Less stress and I always learn a lot about the dogs and bird placement.
 

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Discussion Starter #30 (Edited)
Just have a very thick skin running Derby’s. I think it’s the toughest to judge. Callbacks make you shake your head at times, hooks eventhough if it’s no hunt and straight to the bird may get you dropped eventhough a large hunt on the correct side will get you carried. If you have a dog that marks off guns you probably won’t do well, but don’t worry many FC AFC marked off guns and did well, one with over 300 AA points. Don’t pay attention to the gallery? they may say great job and you get dropped. Just go out and have fun. If your dog picks up the birds be pleased with your dog no matter the outcome. Cheating on marks is another discussion. Main thing is have fun with your dog and don’t get discouraged if you get dropped. The Derby has no indication on how your dog will be a few years from then.
 

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I make an effort to read the Field Trial Rules once a year (at least the parts related to performance) ... even though the Rules don't often change. And when judging, I always have a copy of the Rules in my judges bag/backpack.

Just last week I finished re-reading Retriever Field Trial Judging - A Manual. It's got some good information, however it doesn't provide its readers with all of the knowledge necessary to make them good judges, but it provides basic knowledge and guidelines. It's a good primer on judging. (Come to think of it, those judges who drop dogs for simply hooking a gun or for appearing to wind a bird should read that Manual!) Hmmm, maybe clubs should hand out printed versions of the Manual as judges' gifts ....

Like Peaches, I enjoy judging. It sometimes provides me an opportunity to see parts of the country that I've not seen before, to meet dogs that I've only heard about and not seen, and to meet new friends.

FTGoldens
 

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Marks where the dogs do not want to go are fine.
I do not like marks where the dog must ignore his/her nose.

For example, a MH where the flyer is thrown into the wind
and the dog must punch downwind of the flyer station (and live flyers)
to pick up the memory mark.

A Q where the last mark is a long swim then driving up the hill for
the final memory mark but the shoreline has scent from 20 ducks
thrown there an hour earlier in a different stake.

I'd rather see a test where the dog must ignore his/her nose as blind.
For example, run a land blind downwind of the flyer station.
 

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Like Peaches, I enjoy judging. It sometimes provides me an opportunity to see parts of the country that I've not seen before, to meet dogs that I've only heard about and not seen, and to meet new friends.

FTGoldens
Speaking of which the first all age I judged (and its not many) the last series had amateurs and dogs that all were "famous" to me from reading the national amateur and open blogs. There was a total of 800 all age points between the ten dogs left in the fourth series. Talk about star struck! I was so in awe and intimidated as a new judge too, ha ha! The handlers were so nice and the dogs were incredible! It was an experience, let me tell you!

And I hope to one day get invited to Alaska to judge!
 

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Just have a very thick skin running Derby’s. I think it’s the toughest to judge. Callbacks make you shake your head at times, hooks eventhough if it’s no hunt and straight to the bird may get you dropped eventhough a large hunt on the correct side will get you carried. If you have a dog that marks off guns you probably won’t do well, but don’t worry many FC AFC marked off guns and did well, one with over 300 AA points. Don’t pay attention to the gallery? they may say great job and you get dropped. Just go out and have fun. If your dog picks up the birds be pleased with your dog no matter the outcome. Cheating on marks is another discussion. Main thing is have fun with your dog and don’t get discouraged if you get dropped. The Derby has no indication on how your dog will be a few years from then.
I agree, sometimes you just don't know what the judges are thinking on the judging. One thing I will comment on though. If a dog gut hunts the flyer but is in the flyer area I am pretty lenient. Also, if a dog hunts and hunts in a very tight area of the fall I feel like the dog marked that bird. It depends on the hunt on the right side of the gun that matters to me. Hooking and going straight to the bird is a different story.
 
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