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Through my time running dogs in hunt tests (which is very short) I decided to become an AKC hunt test judge. I did it to help out my club and give some encouragement to others that are learning how to run their dogs. Sometimes it seemed when I was running my dogs that the judges were very experienced running master, but had forgotten what it was like to be running junior hunt tests. So I thought I would start there.

I accidentally took the judge class. I say that because the class was advertised as being for handlers and judges. At that time that I took the class, I had never even ran an AKC hunt test. I had run NAHRA tests, which are a bit different. I was interested in learning the AKC rules and the class turned out to be all that plus learning how to judge. Taking the class and passing the test, meant I was added to the judges roster. I was told all I needed to do was title a dog in junior and apprentice to be a judge.


The clubs here (and everywhere) complain about finding judges. The few we have are worn out. As it turns out a lot of people take the class, but never apprentice so they can judge.

So last year, I apprenticed at GRCA national in Ohio. I had a lot of fun and apprenticed for some very nice and experienced judges. After I apprenticed junior, I let the clubs know up here (there are 3 AKC retriever clubs in Alaska) that I could judge junior.

This summer I am judging 3 junior tests. All 3 are in places I have run dogs, marshaled and shot for tests/trials. I also will know most of the competitors because Alaska is a big small town and I've trained with most of them at some point in time.

Since I don't have a great deal of experience running hunt tests, it's not like I've been doing it for years, I've been getting myself as educated as possible without leaving the state. I've lately been training with a long time hunt test judge. She's helping me think about how to set up tests by the way we run our dogs in training. The factors to consider, etc. I've also been spending some time on YouTube watching other clubs junior hunt test video. And over the years I've also spent time marshaling and shooting for various tests/trials.

Now I'm hoping I'm not that judge that everyone decides they will never run a test under again.

I want to encourage everyone to take the hunt test class, apprentice and become a judge. We need more judges, we need more help in general if our hunt test programs are going to survive.


My first judging assignment is in a couple of weeks. There are only 12 dogs in the test. It will be interesting!
 

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the party's crashing us
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Cool!! Let your co-judge set up everything, sit back, and mark the books as you see em :)
 

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aka Shelby
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There have been quite a few people that are trying to convince me to judge field. I'm not interested at this time but I've heard that it is MUCH easier to become a field judge than it is to be a hunt test judge.


One thing that have forgotten is junior tests. I haven't been to one or done one in a long time. How do they teach you to set up junior tests? Do they tell you to make them square entries, straight forward singles with no concept? Or do they want you to make them a little challenging? In field it seems the best tests are putting the bird where the dogs naturally don't want to go, in order to set the dogs apart. I know that hunt tests aren't competitive but they are still challenging so I'm curious about how the judges are taught to run their tests. How is it with senior? Is it supposed to be more challenging with the marks as far as bird placement? I've not run Master. How are the Master judges supposed to place the birds? Are they supposed to challenge the dog's natural inclinations at all? I would assume they have to be a little like that, as a lot of Master dogs can easily run a Q which of course is competitive. Anyway, just curious.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
One of the things people don't talk about much with hunt test judges, is the quantity of them that were grandfathered in under the old rules. Lots of judges never took a class or ever even titled a dog at that level... Yes it's true. Lots of hunt test judges - retriever, pointing, or spaniel, never ran a dog at the level they are judging. Today to become a hunt test judge is some have more difficult and time consuming. Why did AKC jump the requirements so high? Yet allow pros to becomes judges? But allow anyone that passes the written field trial test to be come a judge as long as they aren't pros? Why the double standard?

Junior tests we were told to either make them easy and expect perfection. Or make them hard and expect success. Or at least that's what I remember from the NAHRA judging class I took this past spring. I have seen junior tests with angle entries and square entries. I've seen them where the water was easily cheated. All over the board it seems. One I ran was so easy on water it was a joke. One so hard I would only expect to see on a master test.

I have heard long time handlers say that running junior today is what senior used to be like, and senior is like what master used to be like, and so on.
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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Why did AKC jump the requirements so high?
Seems like a simple question, but the simple answer is because it was necessary.

The AKC Hunt Test program had many judges who had never owned or run a retriever in their lives. Some were very good judges, others were very very bad.

Then there is a new problem that has developed in the last few years. People that owned dogs, but never trained or handled them in a test. They bought a dog, shipped it off to a pro who trained, handled and titled their dogs for them. They then attended a seminar, apprenticed, and started judging. They had no idea why a dog does what it does, they didn't understand "factors", or bird placement.

So the long list of requirements have been put in place to facilitate teaching and training judges "on the job".

You are correct that the "bar" has been raised, but that is more due to the influence induced upon the sport by the existence of the Master National Retriever Club than anything else.
 

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the party's crashing us
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Becoming an AKC Hunt Test judge is actually very easy. Take a look into the requirements to become an Obedience or Conformation judge. WAYYYYYYYY harder.

I've seen it many times where someone who hasn't trained or ran their own dog in years, "borrows" someone's dog to run and qualify in a test with so they meet their now elapsed handling requirement. I.e. take a MH dog and run it in junior or senior. Sigh......

Some of these folks are perfectly fine judges, some of them I have no idea why on earth they would WANT to judge, and why on earth a club would hire them. It'd be like me now deciding I want to judge gymnastics because I think it's cool.
 

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Becoming an AKC Hunt Test judge is actually very easy. Take a look into the requirements to become an Obedience or Conformation judge. WAYYYYYYYY harder.
Anney,
I'm curious ... do the obedience judges get paid for judging like the conformation judges?
I've never judged a Hunt Test, but have judged more than a few field trials ... maybe I should sue the clubs for Back Wages! :wink2: :grin2:
FTGoldens
 

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the party's crashing us
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Yes I believe obedience judges do get paid but it is usually a per diem they have in their contracts, not a AKC regulated per-dog rate and certainly not standard. Many obedience judges decline payment and just have expenses reimbursed.
Through the grapevine I've gathered that the only judges who actually make a significant amount of money judging are Agility judges. Go figure. No idea what the process is to apply to be an agility judge.
When I judged a flat-coat WC/X in the spring, they gave me a nice gift card and a bottle of wine. I think I should have specified in my contract I prefer beer LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Anney, I agree it is way harder to become a conformation or obedience judge than it is to become a hunt test judge. But you do have to jump through some hoops to become a master hunt test judge.


For our judges in Alaska for conformation we pay $350/show, plus 3 nights in a hotel and round trip coach airfare. We normally have 400 to 500 entries for conformation and we hire 4 judges for a cluster of 2 or 3 shows. Our entries have been dramatically declining, so nobody really knows what will happen up here to conformation shows. Clubs up here right now only seem to make money on agility trials and hunt tests, everything else is pretty much a loss. Incidentally the kennel club does not reimburse judges prior to their arrival for a show. They book and pay for their own airfare. So if they are unable to attend, we do not reimburse them for their canceled airfare. It does happen where judges cancel due to illness or some other factor. The club only pays judges when they actually complete their judging assignment.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Last Sunday I judged junior for the first time. My co-judge was a very experienced judge, and a golden retriever person which made it very nice. She was from Wisconsin. The weather was cloudy, so we didn't have to do any considerations for heat or the direction of the sun. The land we used the same set up as senior had been the day before, except threw one bird in the opposite direction. nothing interesting about the land setup really. Just some rolling benches with thick cover here and there. Dirt was dry and not muddy. The bugs were horrible. The original entry was for 12 junior dogs. 2 scratched. So 10 dogs ran. 1 was out after the first bird, due to eating the duck. 3 were out because they wouldn't retrieve to hand. So that left 6 dogs to go to land. We did have one borderline dog at land. She was a very nice golden, but needed a better FF. She was constantly rolling the ducks and once I heard a crunch. A little roughness that should be corrected. My co-judge and I discussed whether to say anything to the competitors about the FF issue and decided not to say anything. Instead we said sorry you won't be able to come back. We brought the bird cruncher to water, but decided if she crunched again, it would not be a pass for her.


Onto water. With only 6 dogs it went pretty fast. Since I knew almost everyone at the test, it was funny to watch one friend I train with walk around rolling her eyes and shaking her head about the water series. She was very upset. I spoke to her before we called the first dog and told her that her dog could do the test and to relax. She was just plain scared. It was only the 3rd hunt test she had ever run. Of course her dog did fine and didn't even cheat the banks. All dogs passed water. So we handed out 6 ribbons. I would like to have handed out 10 ribbons.


the first photo is the left hand gunner. I drew a black line around where the blind was set up. The bird landed beyond the reeds.


The second photo is the right hand gunner. The bird landed in the reeds.


The 3rd photo is the water set up. The right hand mark was about 75 yards. The left hand mark about 45 yards. So neither was very far. and the reeds were cut to allow some visibility through them.
 

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Great thread Stacey! I enjoyed your description of your first judging assignment, it sounds like you got eased in.
I'm in a similar position, I've taken the seminar twice and apprenticed twice, but haven't gotten my first judging assignment under my belt yet.
I was asked to judge junior this year, but the test was 5 hours away and I wasn't into a 5 hour road trip for volunteer work in my old car.

In my seminars I don't remember being told how to set up a test in regards to making it easy then judging it hard or anything like that.
There was no cookie cutter advice, it was more encouragement to consider many factors - the grounds and land/water you have to work with, the terrain, cover, weather, wind, logistics (# of dogs, time limitations on grounds, where to put the line, where to put the gunners) I'm probably forgetting many.

Then there's some subjectivity of different judges, some are obedience stickers, some are very lenient, just such a range. If it were me I would study the rule book and try to make a "textbook" test (considering the "textbook" gives you some leeway - like the distance of the marks - if mowed lawn field then make it longer - ) then judge it fairly as possible by the criteria.

When I was apprenticing I fell in love with one dog I thought was very cute. It was one of those tubby slow labs <3 love <3 love <3 love
When we compared sheets at the end of the day, the 2 judges sheets were very similar and mine was very different.
They asked me "what dog were you looking at?!?"
I explained that I thought the dog was cute and like the dog's style. They said cute wasn't one of the criteria we were supposed to be judging on.
I said I was asking myself do I want to go hunting with this dog and the answer was YES! LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Dawn, That's funny! We have a lot of show labs up here. Some of them are so tubby! I even train with several of them.


I had a friend judge junior for the first time last year. He was peeved that the woman he judged with wanted to drop every dog that had to pee in the field. He had to argue with her that it wasn't in the rules to drop a dog for peeing. So it's funny I'm finding that judges don't like to judge with certain other judges. So judges seem to have personal lists of "I will never judge with Joey Bobby again". I've been helping the hunt test secretary for one of our hunt test weekends coming up. Boy we had a hard time finding 2 people that would judge together. It was like high school all over again.


I hope you get a judging assignment soon so that you can use your apprenticeship! I've got 3 assignments this summer. With only 6 junior tests, people will either be really sick of me or like me a lot. We'll see which it is!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Last weekend I put on a mock hunt test - junior and senior. I invited a friend to help me. She's judged FT/HTs many times over the last 20+ years. I had put on a mock hunt test last year at the same location. So I was hoping that having some help would be fun. My friend was super familiar with the grounds. We had 5 senior dogs and 12 junior dogs were there. So we were able to run the marks twice, some of the junior dogs ran first as singles, then a second time as doubles. The blind we set up was difficult for all of the senior dogs. I learned a lot more about setting up tests and what to consider. When we went to the water, we found we had a lot of problems with the junior dogs. We had one mark in water, one mark was land-water-land. The water mark was about 70 yards. The land-water-land mark was 45 yards. We had quite a few junior dogs that wouldn't go in the water. I was pretty surprised how little people had trained for water. We were able to move the dogs to another point on land to do the water retrieve to make it shorter. So at least they were still successful. We had 4 chessies, 4 goldens, 1 toller, and 8 labs. If had to do it over again, I would spend more time explaining the rules better to everyone, I feel like there were too many questions as the test progressed. I would also ask people to be quiet. Since it was a mock test, we may not have taken it as seriously as we should have.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I judged junior again last weekend. It is a place about an hour south of Anchorage. I have run dogs there before. I have also judged 2 mock hunt tests and I've trained there. So I was pretty familiar with the location. It was Turnagain Pass.


My co-judge had not judged junior in a long time. She mainly judges master tests and runs only field trials. So she left it up to me to set up the tests. We ran water then land. Unfortunately the show labs and the show chessie had to be dropped on water. Getting into the water for show labs has become a real problem, and the show chessie was just about as bad. There was one show golden I did have to fail, but it was not the dog's fault. The owner did not know how to encourage her to get into the water, she is a very young dog. Anyway, when he walked to the water edge next to her, I told him to encourage her, and he did finally, so she went and got her bird. We ran the water marks from the same point into 2 different ponds. People didn't like that they weren't able to walk to the water's edge to run their dogs. I thought it was to their advantage to run farther back up on the higher bank so the dogs could more easily see the birds land. So we had some complaints. We asked the test committee to allow the dogs not in contention, to run on the land, to be able to run after the dogs in contention. Which they let us do.


So off to land we went. The dogs that passed water, all passed land. The dogs that didn't pass water, didn't pass land either. So it doesn't sound like my water test was the problem. It was really a training issue. So each dog not in contention, my co-judge and I took the time to work with each handler to run their dogs and understand how to communicate better with their dog. How to line up the dog, how to whistle, when to whistle, how to encourage the dog, and when to ask the gunner for help. It was really nice to make it a training opportunity for everyone.


The moral of the story is, get your dog in the water a lot. Make it fun. Throw a bumper. Get the dog out on different size water, don't use just a puddle. Make sure your dog can enter water down a bank and exit up a bank. Make it fun for the dog. Then when you go to a test, your dog will be able to run their water marks. Most of the dogs that didn't pass, should have passed had they been exposed to water more.


Oh and make sure your dog has picked up a duck before going to a hunt test. We did have one dog pick up her first duck. She did fine, but the owner did not tell us she had never picked up a duck before. Funny thing was, it was someone I had trained with several times. The dog was fine picking up her first duck.


Next time I judge junior, which is next month, most of the people I judged on Sunday will be running under me again (or not). Many are people I've trained with. Most of them I know well. So I'm crossing my fingers that I can pass everyone. I really wanted to pass everyone last weekend also.


I do have to say for anyone setting up a hunt test, make sure you have good gunners. I hated having so many "no birds". The gunners couldn't hit the dang ducks. Telling a new handler/dog that they have to get back in line is really tough.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This summer I judged 3 junior hunt tests. All 3 were different locations. All 3 I judged with outside judges, not local judges. 2 of my co-judges had a lot of junior experience, 1 did not. The last judge has judged Master National 2015. So the judges had a wide variety of experience.


Junior is pretty easy to judge in a lot of ways and harder in others. Many people running junior are new and don't know what to expect. Many people running junior have no interest in going beyond junior and are only running it to get a JH title on their dog and are then off to something else. Training levels for dogs running junior are all over the board. There are dogs that are dragging their owners to the line and have minimal or no obedience or training. And other dogs that are using junior as a stepping stone to the next level. There are pros that run junior for their clients to have a starting title. But mostly it's owner handlers running junior. I myself ran my puppy in 2 junior tests this summer also. So it was nice to be both a handler and a judge at the junior level this summer.


I want to give everyone the encouragement to get out there and try running junior. Whether your dog has a lot of training or not. The only thing you have to lose is your entry fee. You'll gain a day spent outdoors with your dog and learning about what training you need to do with your dog. I would familiarize myself with the rules and watch some YouTube videos of junior hunt tests to see what they are all about.


I also want to put a plug out there for more people to sign up to take the AKC judging/handler seminar and take the test. We need more judges. It has gotten very hard for clubs to find judges for hunt tests with all the requirements necessary to judge. But giving back to your club is important.


Also if you are thinking about running junior, try to helping out at a tests. Throw birds, marshal or something else helpful. You will learn a lot just being around the whole thing without having to run a dog.
 
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