The Responsibility of Judging Hunting Retrievers

Having had the unique experience of judging retrievers in all phases of field competition as well as participating in all types of trials and hunts, I can truly say that the success of any event has a great bearing on the Judges and their knowledge and concepts of what a dog should be capable of doing in that particular event.

Many times in the past I have seen major fiascos due to the inexperience of a Judge or his or her lack of desire to get involved in their purpose, looking at and recording a dogs performance in the field.

Too often we are confronted with an individual who has been chosen to judge an event because he or she was a friend of a club member and was invited to judge a trial or hunt as a a sideline to making a visit and going out to have a fun weekend in town, not considering their ability or desire to judge dogs.

The responsibility of a Judge is grave. He must be very knowledgeable of what his/her task is. That is, he should understand the basic principles of what a dog will do in a certain situation and what the physical limitations are as well as the training capabilities. Where a dog gets a lucky break due to a bird flapping a wing, etc. or an unlucky break, a bird falling into a hole, an experienced Judge will pay no attention. He merely records the dogs performance, for in the long run, he knows the dog will show its abilities and all other factors will blend into the overall performance.

Experience is the most successful tool a responsible Judge can possess, and the only way to gain experience is to participate and learn. Participation leads to more understanding and basic knowledge of what can or cannot be done by a retriever.

Judging a retriever's performance is only part of the chore. A responsible Judge also considers all the participants by being on time, by not acting like he or she is some kind of prima donna on a throne with the power to make or break an individual dog or an entire event. Furthermore, the Judge must encourage the new or inexperienced handler by offering positive comments on how a particular problem their dog may have can be cured and encourage the continuation of the trainer's efforts by pointing out the good points in their dog, no matter how few they may be.

A responsible Judge must always, and I emphasize always, be available at the conclusion of an event to answer any reasonable questions or challenges as to why a dog may have been scored the way it was. The only way a Judge as well as a participant will progress and gain experience, is through communication and understanding what may be the reasons for a particular judgment a Judge may have passed onto a dog and/or his handler.

Finally, the most important trait a responsible, successful Judge must possess is the ability to set forth tests which are within the parameters of the rules of the particular class he or she is judging. The tests must not be too difficult nor should they be so easy there are is no validity to them. I always try to let the dogs work, for if they are allowed to work, their abilities will become apparent to all who have seen them and the judgment is just a formality. I know no way to judge a dog if he is not given a fair opportunity to show off his ability. Give him a chance.

It is my belief that if you are going to participate in hunting retriever events, or any event requiring judgment by another person, that you should become involved; ultimately that means being a Judge. Remember the old saying "if you're gonna play, you gotta pay". It sure does fit the hunting retriever program.

Bob Rathe, Jr.



Our first annual National Board of Directors Meeting will be held on October 19, 1984, in Covington, Louisiana, at the Holiday Inn on Highway 190 at 10 a.m. Any changes on the rules or policies, the election of new officers, and the schedule of the hunts for the H.R.C. clubs for 1985 will be made at this meeting.

I want you to send your constructive criticism on where we need to make changes.

One of the main reasons the H.R.C. was created was to help the average hunter advance his dog to a Finished Hunting Retriever. Some of the main sources to learn how to obtain a Finished Hunting Retriever are: 1) professional trainer, 2) Retriever training book, 3) Hunting Retriever Club, and 4) Hunting Retriever Hunt.

As I was coming up through the ranks, I learned to train a Started Retriever from a book, then I learned how to train a Seasoned Retriever from a club and trials, but it took the "pro" to teach me to train the Finished Retriever.

So, here's the problem. We certainly need the pro trainer. But, since we have limited the size of entries so everyone can complete all the hunt tests, shouldn't we also limit his number of dogs? Such as 4? At an A hunt, the entry limit is 80 dogs. At a AA hunt, the entry is limited to 160 dogs. We cannot eliminate him for he is the source to learn about the Finished dog, but he certainly shouldn't take up all the entries. 

This example was sent to me from Robert Milner, along with three type written pages of good, constructive criticism, all of which I liked. We are around the bend from going national, and we need a lot of kinks worked out now. So, put it down on paper and let me know areas we can improve on, and these changes will be voted on come October 19, 1984.



Central Louisiana Retriever Club
Alexandria, LA ... September 8 & 9
Championship Points
Paul Thompson,
Alexandria, LA

Ruston Retriever Club
Ruston, LA ... September 15 & 16
Championship Points
Omar Driskill,
Simsboro, LA

Cajun Retriever Club
Lafayette, LA ... September 29 & 30
No Points -- Preliminary Hunt
Mike Welch,
Duson, LA

Tennessee River Retriever Club
Perryville, TN ... October 13 & 14
Championship Points
Myron Terry Smith,
Decaturville, TN

Pontchatrain Retriever Club
Robert, LA ... October 20
Championship Points
Robert Rathe,
Covington, LA

Hunting Retriever is published bi-monthly by the United Kennel Club, Inc. and has it's editorial, advertising, business, and production offices at 100 East Kilgore Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001. Postage paid at Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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Hunting Retriever Club, Inc. Newsletter Vol. 1 #1 reprint and reproduction from August-September, 1984
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