A FEW WORDS IN CONCLUSION
Few judges can remember every performance without making adequate notes for reference in conference with a fellow judge. This is more particularly true in stakes with large entries. Some judges have found it valuable to rate the performance of each dog on some simple scale; others have developed a check system based on the Standard Procedure. Each must develop his own system. Nevertheless, the retention of notes for a reasonable time after the trial provides a ready and quick reference in case any questions arise and is less fallible than memory.
THE CONDUCT OF THE HANDLER
What should a judge require of a handler? It is generally considered that a handler should run his dog as appears most likely to provide a display of his abilities. When game is flushed by either dog, the handler should in hupping his dog remain in such position as he finds himself unless otherwise instructed by the judge. He should, of course send his dog on retrieves only when so instructed and the judge may wish to assure himself that the dog is steady. In doing so the judge should move quietly and make every effort not to make any sudden movement which the dog might mistake for a command of his handler to retrieve.
STEADINESS WHILE HUPPED
Handlers who assume the privilege of calling their dog to them without instructions from the judge (when the dog on the other beat is retrieving) run the risk of having the judge assume, with some justice, that the handler lacks confidence that the dog is perfectly steady. The same thing applies to a handler who moves closer to his dog without orders to do so once bird is flushed. This differs from the case of a dog that is in the general area of a fall or the line of retrieve when a judge may well use his discretion in instructing the handler to move his dog away in order not to interfere with the work of the brace mate.
A properly trained spaniel will remain where hupped until called off, and a dog which gives evidence of such control is entitled to a higher rating than one which the handler feels he must call back to him. At least in championship stakes it were well for judges not to be in a great hurry to deprive themselves of the evidence of steadiness thus obtained, provided only the dog is not in a position to interfere with the other dog's work or retrieve.
THE LONG FALL
Inasmuch as a championship stake is completed in one day, or at most a day and a half, judges should seize every opportunity to learn all they can about a dog.
Because of shortage of time, judges are reluctant at times to send a dog for a long fall or one well off the course. If information about the dog is sought, this is a lost opportunity. Probably the best rule in a championship stake is that any practical retrieve should be attempted which will not unduly disturb game planted ahead on either course. Ina a minor stake such falls may well be disregarded since a young or inexperienced dog may miss the fall badly, encounter and flush other bird and generally disturb game on the course for a considerable distance ahead.
OWNERS AND OTHERS KEEP BACK
In an advisory resolution passed a number or years ago it was pointed out that no one except the judges (and an apprentice judge, if any), the handlers and the guns should be forward of the Field Steward. This gives a better opportunity for the gallery to see and make it easier to keep them in order. This applies equally to owners eager to watch their dogs, to guns not in line, stewards not presently charged with a duty and to all other officials. Any conversation, no matter how trivial, of owners with judges, handlers and guns should be avoided if only for the sake of appearance.
THE JUDGE LIKE CAESAR'S WIFE
What about the judge at a trial? During the course of a trial he is probably better off to keep his own counsel, thus avoiding even the appearance of being influenced by the views, the opinions or even the knowledge of others. Certainly any discussion with owners or others (except his fellow judge) of the performance of a dog still under judgment would be in shocking bad taste on the part of both.
The judge must base his awards on what he has himself observed of the performance on that particular day. When he was invited to judge, it was because the committee had confidence in his judgment, his powers of observation and his capacity to be objective, which is another way of saying he is expected to put his emotions and his sentiments under lock and key. He has a personal responsibility to his fellow judge to inform him clearly and to appraise jointly with him the several performances. Each has an obligation to render fair judgment.
PROVIDE STRONG BIRDS
One word about the problem created by the inability to run trials on natural game as in former years; birds recently removed from pens vary somewhat from wild birds in the character and strength of the scent they give out. When closely planted in a grass bed or clump of cover without opportunity to move, there is a greatly reduced opportunity for the wind to carry their scent on the surrounding ground or cover. When in addition they show a reluctance to fly or are weakwinged and incapable of prompt escape, trials are run under an additional disadvantage. Birds are retrieved from their `beds' or are pulled from heavy cover by force. If weak, they sometimes suffocate from being carried in bags or from the manner of planting or the dog's grip required to hold them, or from a combination of all three.
Hence field trial committees should make every effort to provide strongwinged, healthy, vigorous birds, and employ skilled planters. Too great an anxiety not to waste birds can in effect be wasteful since deeply planted birds will be more readily caught by the dogs. Birds planted well ahead of the dogs, even if they move off the course will at least give the judge an opportunity to observe the ability of the dog on recent scent.
There are a number of breeders throughout the country who raise birds on the `open range' procedure. Others who buy young birds continue to keep them in large pens and exercise them daily. Some even use dogs to make them fly so that they develop some fear of people and dogs. Such birds, if strong and full winged, will proved a far better trial than the runof themill. There is no real excuse for not providing such birds in a licensed or member trial in stake that require game birds even if the regulations prescribe only that they be fullwinged. They should as well be fulltailed, healthy, vigorous and eager to escape by flight.