Labs wrote:The point that I think is missing in all this, from what I can gather, is that the folks promoting not running a dog in hunt tests, were once people that ran hunt tests. Reading rules and training dogs to the Master level or whatever, doesn't have any meaning to the guy that has never done it...walking to the line, and having someone else judge the training that you have done against the standard, can not be quantified from merely reading the rulebook. Dawn, that approach may work for you, because you have been there, but for the new person, they can not simply read a rulebook and turn out a Master Hunter...or an HRCH or an MHR.
I think the Hunt test program is a way to validate a person's training. If a hunting dog isn't quite steady in the blind does the average hunter care?...probably not. Get your dog a AKC Senior title or a NAHRA WR Title or and HRC HR title, and I would imagine that you would have a dog in the marsh that is 85-90% better than every other dog in the marsh on that day. I am also a hunter first, and tester second...but I can say this, testing made me a better handler...through experience...., and in turn, made the "team" better at the ultimate goal, which is game conservation.
I don't think anyone was promoting not running hunt tests; hell, I would still be doing it if I could, I loved it. I was merely making the point that it is no disservice to anyone to not do so, and not testing formally does not mean you cannot train to test standards. But it is my opinion that hunt testing is just one
way to validate your training, whatever that means. The results of a hunt test have the same basis as any other form of competition, i.e., you are getting one/two persons opinions on that day, according to his/their interpretation of the standard.I guess if you have never shown under a judge who tweaks that interpretation to suit his own biases, you would not know what I am talking about, but trust me, it happens, as described in an earlier post. If your dog happens to fail a test, does that mean he is a worthless piece of crap and you are a horrible trainer? Of course not, it just means that the judges' opinion was that he did not meet the standard for a pass on that day.
The rule book comment got derailed; of course a newbie cannot turn out a competitive dog just by reading same, but he can
get an idea of the training involved by understanding the standards against which his dog will be judged, and then seek whatever help is necessary for him to train to that standard. The first thing I do with a new client seeking to compete in any
discipline is have them get a copy of the rule book.
The fact that I am no longer able to test does not mean my dogs are trained to a lesser standard, because they are not; it's just means that now my training is "validated" in hunting venues. Thankfully, I have done this long enough to judge whether or not my dogs "meet the standard", and I don't feel the need to seek an outside opinion re: that.