The responsibility for a field trial and the necessary preparations for it are in the hands of the Field Trial Committee of a club. Field Trial Clubs or associations not members of the American Kennel Club are required to obtain written approval of the Parent Club and of the A.K.C. as to the date and location of the trial.

The Committee determines the stakes to be run, decides on the awards, selects the grounds, arranges for the birds, determines the entry fees, invites the judges (who must in advance be approved by the A.K.C.) and, if it be a licensed or member club trial, includes the above in its application to the A.K.C.


It is the responsibility of each licensed or member field trial club to supply its own premium lists in an approved form after receiving approval from the A.K.C. The entry form when properly filled out and signed by the owner of the owner's agent and received by the Field Trial Secretary before the specified closing date constitutes the entry.

There is, as well, an approved form of listing in the catalog of the trial which the Committee is requested to follow. Since copies of the catalog, marked with absences and awards, are later to be filed with the A.K.C., along with the judges' books certifying to such awards, and become part of the official permanent record of the trial, it is important that the required data about each entry name and registered number (or listing if unregistered), sex, age, breeding and breeder, owner and handler, owner's address be in proper detail in the entry form and included in the catalog.

All documents concerning the trial (premium lists, catalogs, and judges' books) must carry the A.K.C. Number which is supplied by the A.K.C.


In case one or both of the judges so announced are unable to officiate, the A.K.C. permits the substitution of an approved judge or judges. It allows the appointment of an additional judge or judges (providing they are available who are in good standing with the A.K.C.), should conditions suddenly confront the Committee that make such a move imperative, such as an unavoidable shortage of time and multiplicity of stakes. Nevertheless, such authority should be used sparingly as it is undesirable to have any departure from the announcements in the Premium List and nearly all other departures are forbidden.

In event of a disagreement between the judges on any question, the Field Trial Committee of the club giving the trial shall appoint a referee to cast the deciding vote, though such recourse has been so rare in spaniel trials that it would be necessary to go to the A.K.C. files to determine whether it has ever been invoked.


In all matters arising at the meeting, the decisions of the Field Trial Committee present are final and conclusive and binding on all parties subject to the rules of the American Kennel Club.

However, responsibility rests alike on the Field Trial Committee, the officers of the club, the judges, and all other officials to see that a trial conducted under the A.K.C. is carried on in accordance with its rules and all are subject to discipline for failure to do so.

All those involved in putting on the field trial should be familiar with "Guide for Field Trial and Hunting Test Committee in Dealing with Misconduct at Field Trials and Hunting Tests" (available from the American Kennel Club).


In all cases affecting the merits of the dogs, the judges' decision is final. Full discretionary power is given to the judges to withhold any or all awards for want of merit. Occasionally, because of the lack of merit, judges have awarded no first in a stake carrying championship points though they have filled the balance of places in the stake. On at least one occasion no places at all were awarded in an important stake. Judges may call upon the Committee for as many series as seem to them necessary and may ask that such additional series be of such nature that they provide the information they need to arrive at their decision.

Judges are empowered to turn out of any stake a dog that does not obey its handler or a handler who willfully interferes with another competitor or his dog and to exclude from competition any dog they may consider unfit to compete; including the duty to require the removal from the field trial grounds of bitches in heat and, of course, their exclusion from any stake.

Thus it will be seen that the authority of the judges is considerable and, in addition to rendering judgment, their responsibility is broad. Incidentally, they are required to reduce to writing, or see that the Field Trial Secretary does so, all of their awards, including Awards of Merit, Water Test Awards, and to sign each page of the judges' book certifying to those awards.


The spaniel field trial for at least the first two series (except in Puppy Stakes) is carried on by two dogs running simultaneously on parallel beats each under one of the two judges. The order of running is determined in advance by lot and should be adhered to as far as possible since thus the variations in terrain and cover are resolved to be a matter of fortune, not choice.

The dogs are put down under the two judges in some regular order, such as numerical order to fill each vacancy as dogs are taken up by one or the other of the judges. Such procedure is usually determined by consultation between the judges and the chief steward. It is undesirable to alter the order of running, thus determined, except when no other solution presents itself such as when one handler is performing on one beat and another dog of his is called up in order on the parallel beat. Dogs not in line when called may in the discretion of the judges be eliminated or run last in the stake.

At the conclusion of the first series each judge selects the dogs from among those who have performed under him that he considers worthy of continuing in the stake and they are put down in sequence under the other judge. These procedures are followed through successive series until the judges are satisfied that they are prepared to make the awards. However, after each dog has been down separately under both judges, the latter may, if they desire, either continue to run the dogs on parallel beats or run one at a time on a single beat under the observation of both judges. This applies only to the third and successive series and is optional with the judges. A dog to receive an award must compete in all series and the water test, if any be held.

In the National Championship Stake and the National Amateur Championship Stake it has been established that dogs should run on parallel beats for a least four series so that each dog is down twice under each judge.


The Steward of the Beat is in charge of the course and of the placing of birds when birds are planted. Judges will, as a rule, find the Steward of the Beat amenable to suggestions and responsive to their requests so long as such requests are reasonable and within the steward's power to grant.


The shooting is done by the official guns that may be two, three or more in number according to the conditions. Since the gun is for the moment the good right arm of the handler, presumably one gun per dog and handler is enough. That gun should guide himself on the handler, moving forward when he moves, stopping when he stops, and keeping himself in position to shoot without danger to those around him, including the handler whose attention is centered on his dog.

With the present price of birds and occasionally because of the size of the entry judges may wish to avoid passing up shots. To meet this problem it has become customary in many stakes to have a third or center gun who takes shots not available to the outer guns. Where courses diverge because of terrain, two guns may be assigned to each beat though this is a matter of discretion.

It is part of the function of the judges to see that guns conduct themselves in a manner not dangerous to others, including the gallery, to advise the guns as to the wishes of the judges for the best trial of the dogs, and to caution a gun who gets out of position or interferes with the hander or shoots dangerously. A judge is entitled to ask that a gun be relieved for any cause and another substituted.


This then is a very general outline of the powers, duties and responsibilities of judges at a spaniel trial. In addition there is the question of what standard of judgment to apply.

It would appear that the simplest approach is to take the successive paragraphs of the Standard Procedure in order and attempt to throw light on their long accepted meaning and the customs that have prevailed in applying them.