Tag Archives: field trials

GSCA National Walking Gun Dog Championship

Couldn’t be more thrilled to share the news about about the

Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc.

National Walking Gun Dog Championship 

Monday, October 22, 2018

C&R Center on the Norman G Wilder Wildlife Area

Felton, Delaware

This is GSCA’s 3rd National event for 2018 and the newest addition to the GSCA lineup of spectacular events showcasing our talented and beautiful breed!

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Feature photo by Jim McWalter

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Field Help!

Field Enthusiasts – HELP!

We’re in dire need of Field material to publish for our readers on this Gordon Setter blog. We truly need your support and expertise to build reference material for those who are seeking information and mentors to help them learn more about hunting and field competition. We need your expertise and encouragement to draw more owners to enjoy time with their Gordon Setters in the field.

  • We are always seeking writers to share their material, experiences, or expertise here.
  • We are always seeking field enthusiasts to share links to websites or other blogs of value to those who share your passion.
  • We are always seeking your recommendations of books and videos.

You can reach us at gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com with your contributions or questions.

Hope you’ll join in to make some noise about your adventures in the field!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

NEWS FLASH – Gordon Setter Students & Mentors

I started a new discussion group that you may find totally useful if you’re seriously into breeding and/or competing with your Gordon Setter. Now, I realize that many of you are not on Facebook and may well have sworn never to go there BUT you don’t have to turn into a Facebook junkie, nor do you need to accumulate a slathering of friends, but you will need to set up a Facebook account in order to view and post to the group.  There are already fabulous discussions starting, questions being posed, and pictures being shared of dogs from way back, all things educational can be shared here.

Here is the link Gordon Setter Students & Mentors click here if you’d care to check it out or join the group.

Gordon Setter Students & Mentors


Welcome Gordon Setter students and mentors! This group is meant to serve as a resource and learning tool for Gordon Setter fanciers who are serious students or experienced breeder/exhibitors willing to join forces where everyone can learn about and mentor the art of breeding better Gordon Setters. A place also to fine tune our skill and expertise when competing in conformation, performance or field events. Topics might include such things as genetics, structure, pedigrees, ancestors, health, and proper care, grooming, as well as training tips pertaining to competition in conformation, performance and field events. To make the most of this forum you are encouraged to submit questions, content and photos to provide examples as well as actively participate in discussions with helpful answers and guiding principles.

Things to keep in mind:

No personal attacks, ridicule, or harassment on or about another member’s post. You will be removed from the group and blocked. We don’t always need to agree and various opinions on a topic are encouraged to promote a learning environment, however remember when you are expressing an opinion to please do so in a tactful and polite manner.

Since this group is meant to serve educational purposes only, please do not submit your win photos and brags, we do love to see those and are very happy for you, but let’s post them on other forums to maintain focus here. The same would be true of those happy Gordon photos we post just for fun.

Please focus on the positive traits of any dog pictured. If you have constructive criticism always be considerate and tactful in your comments to ensure you are providing encouragement as well as an educational experience for the student. Please do share educational articles and links to other sites that will educate and promote better breeding and competition practices.

No SPAM or ads to promote the sale of merchandise or dogs. Spammers will be removed.

No personal attacks on other members! We are here to help each other learn and we will respect everyone and treat each other with dignity because of our differences, a different view could be where a new learning begins.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Photo by Bob Segal – 2015 GSCA National Specialty

GSCA National Field Trial 2015

2015 GSCA National Championships and Field Trial

November 2 – 8, 2015

Bechtel Ranch, Eureka Kansas

Entries close Monday, Oct. 19, 2015

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The View by Dan Voss

Dan voss preferredI am so pleased to welcome today’s Guest Blogger – Dan Voss, Otsego, MN who sent us this thought-provoking article about the “one size fits all” approach to the judging of all-breed field events. Thank you so much for sharing this with us Dan, and just so you know, we all hope you will continue to send us field related content – our readers do love it!

Dan Voss, Otsego MN
The view from the back of the gallery was breathtaking. The sun was low in the evening sky, casting long shadows from the horses. A slight breeze fanned the steam rising from the sweating horses. Whispers in the gallery had a sense of excitement. One of the handlers eagerly called his dog on point, quickly we rode to the find hoping not to miss a single second of this performance. The handler dismounted and casually strode to the front of the dog, the bird was flown and all was in order. The dog was sent on, and while the handler moved to the front time was called and the gallery was alive with chatter. “Who’s going to beat that?” said one. Somebody else was overheard, “I don’t know, that’s the best dog I’ve seen.” And so it goes at every field trial that I’ve had the pleasure of riding. The discussion usually centers around whose dog did the “best” job.

dan dog fieldBest. That’s quite a term. Best for what? Best for a Pointer? Best for a Gordon Setter? Or, as seems to be the case today, best for a pointing dog. There seems to be an unwritten standard by which all pointing dogs are to be judged. I’d like to quote two paragraphs from the Melting Pot, an editorial written by Craig Doherty.

‘When we get to the aesthetic values of a competitive performance there is a set of universal criteria that all seem to agree on. We admire a dog that goes to the objectives with a fast and fluid gait. We expect the dog to work to the front and have eye appeal both in motion and on point. A dog that hits its bird hard and has great style on point is going to be more impressive than a dog that slows and potters around before it finally points. We want a dog that will handle even at extreme distance. A dog that goes out on a limb and holds bird until found is also going to impress the majority. And possibly most important, we want to see the dog finish its hour going away.’

‘If this trend continues, the distinctions between the breeds will diminish to the point where the only way you can tell the difference between an Irish, Gordon or English setter will be by the color of it’s hair, while the only way you’ll be able to tell the difference between an English and German pointer will be the length of its tail. From the perspective of someone breeding show dogs, this is a serious problem – for the rest, it may just be the final step in the naturalization of the various continental breeds to becoming American dogs. Although the melting pot theory of explaining the history of the United States may be extreme suspect when it come to people, open and fair field trial competition may turn out to be a true melting pot for bird dogs.’

Dan Voss article irish n gordonIf Mr. Doherty is correct, and I believe he is, there is an unwritten standard to which all pointing dogs are judged. These unique breeds share one common feature, pointing upland birds. Isn’t it odd that unique breeds, originally bred for specific terrain, climate or working manner are all judged to the same unwritten standard? Should they be subjected to some arbitrary standard in the field that covers all pointing breeds? As an example, the Spinone Italiano recognized by the AKC in 2000, has been characterized as a dog “…that does not hunt for themselves but for their master” and is “not too fast in their speed while searching out game.” (source SCOA) While the AKC breed standard states, “He has a remarkable tendency for an extended and fast trotting gait.” Now, how will that measure up to the unwritten standard applied in an all-breed stake? Well the answer will be, it doesn’t. Should people who have Spinone’s really care if their dogs can win in all pointing breed competition? I rather think, they don’t.

Dan dog horseAre restricted breed trials the answer? Well, yes and no. Conceivably restricted breed trials face a problem, lack of dogs in the area. What does a person do if the their area of the country doesn’t have enough of “their” breed to hold a trial, or maybe there is a small group of dogs but not enough to make a major stake? In the AKC a dog needs a win in a stake that has 13 or more starters, without a major a Championship cannot be awarded. All-breed trials would then be their only venue. Yes, there will be individuals that manage to hold their own in all pointing breed competition and these very dogs, when entered in restricted breed trials, can help keep the bar high when entered in the restricted breed trial. Looking back at the Spinone example, how will they fair in all-breed competition? It’s quite possible that in an area of a larger population of dogs, enough to have Spinone only trials, dogs of lesser caliber could become Field Champions. Dogs of higher caliber in areas with smaller populations competing in all-breed trials may not be able to finish titles. The dog world is pretty fickle when it comes to breeding dogs. Most people seem unable to see the quality of the dog unless it has a title. I’m not advocating making it easier to finish Field Champions, just that in the scope of dog breeding, advances may be brought about faster by breeding to the better dogs and a restricted breed stake can identify those animals and help accomplish that goal.

Dan n dogIn a perfect world we could have competitive field trials and award Field Championships without having a “Melting Pot” effect. Is such a system conceivable? I guess it is, but I rather doubt it ever could be practical. Judges would have to be versed in each breed’s working standard and not reward dogs that trend to the unwritten standard that is in use today.

In closing, a couple of questions need to be answered.

Is the only method for breed improvement through all-breed competition or can the breed be improved through a restricted breed format?

Are there performance qualities unique to Gordon Setters? And if so, isn’t it time that we put that to paper?

By doing nothing we stand to lose some of the qualities that we hold dear, and that my friend, will be a sad day.

© 2004 Dan Voss
The Melting Pot, an editorial by Craig Doherty, Field Trial Magazine Summer 2001

Ushering in a New Era of Gun Dog Training

Many thanks to Polly Cisco for sharing this field training site:

The Positive Gun Dog Association, Ltd. is a network of enthusiasts, hunters, positive trainers and breeders dedicated to advocacy and education within the gun dog industry. Our aim is to demonstrate the applicability of positive training techniques for creating reliable, competent, motivated hunting dogs. By working together to build an awareness of the power of positive training, we hope to literally shift the training methods used in this niche from traditional, aversive methods to positive, dog-friendly ones. Please consider joining forces with us to accomplish this goal.

Positive Gun Dog Association, Ltd » Ushering in a New Era of Gun Dog Training.Positive Gun Dog Association

Calling on Field trainers!

J Mcwalter photo
Photo from Jim McWalter

We know you’re out there having the time of your life doing what comes naturally to man and bird dog – hunting! But after you’ve come in out of the cold we’re wondering if you would share your expert knowledge – as in how did you get your dog to do that?

We need field trainers who are willing to share their training methods, such as what resources do you use to guide you, do you have favorite books or websites that you recommend, can you or would you write articles about field training or field training issues to help other trainers resolve their problem? Especially and most importantly if that training applies and works well with Gordon Setters, because that’s the breed this blog is all about.

Please send your articles, links, recommended reading, videos, websites, the things you believe are very important to know when training your Gordon Setter to hunt to gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com.

mcwalter photo
Photo from Jim McWalter