The Retriever Field Trial Judging Fundamentals and Checklist

Judging retriever field trials has always been challenging. Most judges take their assignments seriously and do the best they can under the circumstances. Entry size, competition, weather, changing conditions, grounds, mechanics, time, test design and evaluation are factors which affect the success of all judging assignments. Given all these factors and the resultant variation in judging trials, there has always been much discussion about how to improve judging. A variety of solutions have been offered but it is clear the issues are complex and there is no simple solution.

In recent years, a series of articles have discussed judging in the Retriever News and Retrievers ONLINE. Both magazines surveyed professionals and amateurs active in the game with a series of questions on how to improve judging. Articles discussed many of the things that could be done to improve judging. Despite the diversity of opinions and variability across the country, a relatively short list of fundamentals important for judging a sound field trial emerged.

As part of continuing dialogue and articles, those fundamentals were discussed by a diverse group of experienced field trialers from both the USA and Canada. That group involved judges with collectively thousands of assignments as well as much experience running trials. Through a series of e-mails, personal discussions and blogging a checklist of considerations for the fundamentals was developed. The idea was to provide every field trial judge with a copy for their consideration during each assignment. The checklist based on the key fundamentals was designed as a concise reminder that could be carried with a judging book during set-up and testing.

The attached Checklist was originally published in 2012 in Retrievers News and Retrievers ONLINE. It is designed to be copied for either large or small judges books-just hole punch as required. PDF

Weather-proof versions of the Checklist are being distributed at Nationals by Retrievers ONLINE and the Retriever News..

In the interest of continuing to improve, feedback is welcome. Please direct your comments to the editor of Retrievers ONLINE, Dennis Voigt -