Montana Brittany Club

A New Star in Big Sky Country

By Tom Maneely, AKC Field Representative

Montana is home to mountains, clear running rivers, wildlife in abundance, and the home of the newest Brittany Club. The Montana Brittany Club held their first official events on August 20 – 23, 2009. If all indications are correct, they will be a great addition to the American Brittany Club and the AKC.

My personal association with the Montana Brittany Club came as I was on assignment visiting an event hosted by the Montana German Shorthaired Pointer Club. While at this event, I met Todd Breitenfeldt, club President, Tana Kradolfer, Hunt Test and Field Trial Chair, and Bob Meyers, Hunt Test and Field Trial Secretary. They informed me that they had gained ABC recognition with the assistance of Marilynn Little, ABC 2nd V.P. They now had numerous questions concerning the process of becoming an accredited AKC club. As chance would have it, they had planned to have an officers meeting during my visit. I can only say that I was duly impressed by the professionalism and attention to detail that the group displayed. At the time they could boast 40 members (this has since grown), many of which held considerable experience in AKC events and in hosting Shoot to Retrieve trials. The club appeared financially able to host their events. Most importantly they showed me a real desire to host AKC events in an area that can only boast one other club.

This club seemed like a perfect match for the AKC’s mentored event program. The mentored event program is a fast track program that will allow clubs to move past the sanctioned event portion of accreditation and start holding licensed events. Experience of the membership is a key ingredient in being allowed to become licensed through the mentored event process. After I had on opportunity to look over the MBC’s membership list, I recommended to Doug Ljungren that the Montana Club qualified for this program. It has been 11 years since a new Brittany Club had been accepted into the AKC and the Performance Department wanted to help the Montana Club in any way that we could.

This group had taken on a huge challenge for their first event. First they hosted a Pointing Breed Hunting Test Seminar. Then they held a double – double Hunt Test with the Montana GSP Club, to be followed by a walking field trial which would also run concurrently with a walking field trial held by the Montana GSP Club. A double – double Hunt Test (two clubs, each hosting a Hunt Test for two days) takes a high degree of coordination, but then to follow that with two Field Trials going on at the same time was ambitious to say the least.

The event was a success with each day’s entries filling nicely. Participants came from six states and Canada. The Hunt Tests on Friday and Saturday drew 36 and 39 entries, respectfully. The walking Field Trial included a 3 pt Open Gun Dog stake and a 4 pt Amateur Gun Dog stake! A high-light was Allen Norman and his "Britt" (Brittany) finishing their Master Hunter title. The Open Gun Dog was won by Jim Curtis with his Brittany "Tyler". The Amateur Gun Dog was won by Jarrin Larson and "Titus" (GSP). The blue in the Derby was awarded to Eric Cook and his Pointer "Hooch". Overall four different breeds were in the ribbons with the judges of all the stakes remarking as to the quality of the dogs they were honored to watch.

The Club pulled off their "big week-end" without a hitch. Preplanning and preparation had paid off as the event got started in a timely manner and preceded seamlessly. The coordination between the two clubs was an example of how it should be done. For the majority of the event I could count a minimum of 12 club members on hand, and each was ready to do whatever was needed to assist. All of our clubs would be happy to have this kind of effort from our memberships. They had chosen to utilize Karyn Conner’s picturesque ranch near Three Forks, MT for their event, which provided ample course that was near to dog running paradise, with short grass prairie and a few sage bushes mixed in. The walking was over generally flat ground that was very welcome for the more experienced handlers.

The future does indeed seem bright for this group of sportsmen and women. Their future plans include a horseback trial, doing the Hunt Test double-double again, possibly with the walking trial in conjunction again. Congratulations to the Montana Brittany Club. I am sure that whatever they do it will be a well run, enjoyable event.