The following are some guidelines for review, consideration and discussion with your co- judges. The points have been identified through input from a number of Judges of previous Nationals and are meant to promote harmony and a smooth running event. They have been put together by a Judge Selection Committee under the direction and sanction of the NRCC. They are not intended to dictate what tests are to be run or how the dogs should be evaluated.
Read and understand the philosophy applied to Judging a National. Clearly the standards are different from that of an Open/Amateur Stake in a weekend trial. Callbacks should be generous and when there is uncertainty, benefit the dog and handler. This is better than reinstating dogs that were not included in the callbacks. The National is a week long event and every effort should be made to carry dogs well into the middle of the week. This will go a long way to facilitate the social events and provide workers, contributing to the overall success of the particular National.
Discuss with your co- judges how you want to resolve differences in opinion when setting the tests and evaluating the work. It may be agreed upon that any one Judge can insist on a callback or veto a test or some aspect included in a test. If guidelines are established before issues arise, it will assist in resolving those issues quickly, without hard feelings.
Time management is a key issue.. Set tests that start and finish on the same day, if at all possible. This may require an adjustment to the test after the test dog has been run and timed. The finish time should be estimated to allow for participation in the scheduled social events for that day. These add up to a timely completion of the National.
The difficulty of the tests should increase gradually over the week, culminating in some very challenging tests where there is room for all participating to have an opportunity to gain some ground. Save a single and very significant final test for the last day, anticipating completing the National in the early afternoon. This allows time for the proper celebrations in relation to the finalists and the eventual winner. To allow for this, give yourself an extra day when booking your flight home.
Avoid setting what could be called “Fatal Tests” in the early days of the National. By that we mean tests that will result in elimination of the dog. Examples are poison birds in conjunction with blinds or blinds set up in such a manner that the dog can round a corner and lose communication with the handler. Or, marks set up where a dog in trouble cannot be handled back to a fall. This suggestion is in concert with the National philosophy of giving everyone a chance to play on where possible. This is not to suggest these tests cannot be used later on when difficult tests can be expected.
Try and utilize a wide variety of concepts when setting your tests. Ensure the finalists are well rounded and capable of handling all situations. Be creative in your test design and in the use of terrain. Adequate elevation is very important and should allow all handlers to see their dogs and their dogs see them. This applies to both blinds and marks. Handler movement should be allowed within reason.
Tests should be set with an awareness of the impact on the dogs. Extreme weather or terrain should require you modify the demands on the dogs. Insist on the availability of cooling ponds and drinking water should temperatures dictate, and in extreme heat, try to include at least one retrieve through water. Common sense would suggest you avoid fox tail, spear grass or situations where dogs could suffer injury.
In the event of a complaint or protest, continue on with the trial unless otherwise directed by the Field Trial Committee. Complaints/ protests take considerable time to resolve and therefore the Trial should be continued while the matter is dealt with by the committee.
These guidelines are by no means all inclusive. It is suggested you and your co- Judges discuss those items you consider important. A review of all minor and moderate faults as outlined in the Rule Book will assist you in determining how you evaluate each dog’s performance. Try and establish agreement on how you plan on assessing potential faults. This pre-planning should facilitate a good working relationship and help to ensure a successful and smooth running event and an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The NRCC expresses our sincere thanks and appreciation for volunteering your time and providing us and all the competitors with your experience, common sense and ability. We know you will work co-operatively with your co-judges to provide fair and challenging tests for both dogs and handlers. Hopefully this will culminate in identifying a clear National winner and be an enjoyable experience for everyone