The Retriever Field Trial sport of today can trace its origin to the late 1920’s to early 1930’s when a small group of avid hunters devised a sport in which they could evaluate the performance of their hunting retrievers in a competitive environment and obtain Championships along with bragging rights. Today’s modern Retriever Field Trial is a much evolved event with some of the best trained, highly skilled, and well conditioned competitors in the Sporting Group.
In the early days of the sport most marked retrieves and blinds rarely exceeded 100 yards in distance, by comparison today’s events often see multiple marked retrieves in excess of 250 yards and blind retrieves sometimes in excess of 300 yards. Today’s competitive All-Age Retriever must be in both excellent physical and mental condition, test in these trials almost always involve multiple marking test consisting of double, triple and quadruple marks with one, or several gun stations retired from the dogs sight, also single and multiple blinds are often involved.
Most weekend retriever events are comprised of four events, two are major all-age events that carry championship points, and the other two are minor stakes for younger dogs. One of the following, open to professional trainers and amateur trainers, is offered, Open All-Age, Limited All-Age, Special All-Age, or Restricted All-Age, the determination as to which is offered is based on the entries at the clubs previous event. The other major stake, offered to Amateur handlers only, is Amateur All-Age, or Owner/Handler Amateur All-Age. At the previously mentioned stakes championship points are awarded, the awarding of these points count toward a dogs Field Champion and Amateur Field Champion status. Also on a yearly basis these points count toward qualification to participate in both the National Open Retriever Championship and National Amateur Field Championship, each held once yearly. Generally two minor stakes are also offered, one being the Qualifying, this stake is very similar to an all-age stake but generally not as difficult in content. The other minor stake, a Derby, is for young dogs that are at least 6 months but have not reached 2 years of age, this stake involved marked retrieves only, these may consist of single, double are triple. Points are awarded for placement in this stake and count toward a yearly Derby Championship sponsored by the Retriever Field Trial News, a publication owned by the Retriever National Open and Amateur clubs.
With over 250 retriever field trials yearly, and thousands of competitors involved, if this sport sounds of interest to you we would suggest that you visit our web page, AKC.org, and look under the events listing for and event near your home, local club members and competitors are always happy to talk about their sport and show off their wonderful dogs, spectators are always welcomed.