An Overview of the Started Hunting Retriever Field Test

The purpose of the Started Hunting Retriever Field Test is to bring the started dog along as a hunter. Desire and cooperation with the handler are important factors.

The Started Field Test consists of basic tests to evaluate the dog’s natural and basic trained abilities. The judges shall evaluate the dog’ s temperament, as displayed in its spontaneous behavior, in order to assess its suitability as a hunting companion. Hyperactivity, wildness, jumping about, barking, excessive disobedience, lethargy or lack of interest shall be marked down. Repeated evidence shall be justification for elimination

The North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA) Started Hunting Retriever Test consists of only five single bird marks:

  • Two single marked retrieves on land (maximum distance of 75 yards);
  • Two single marked retrieves on water (maximum distance of 50 yards); and
  • A fifth marked retrieve may be either land or water, at the discretion of the judges.
  • Dogs shall not be required to honor another dog in this event

Steadiness at the point of origin is required. A leash, line or slip lead may be used to keep the dog steady at the line. However, no dog is allowed to make a retrieve while wearing a collar, leash, line or similar device. A controlled break shall not fail a dog but shall be marked down.

Delivery of the bird to hand is not required. The dog must only deliver the bird to within a reasonable radius of the point of origin, which is easily accessible to the handler.

The dog should return to the handler without delay. Moderate voice or whistle commands may be used. Repeated evidence of delayed return or excessive voice and whistle commands may be grounds for elimination.

A Started dog will usually be cast from the point of origin only once. However, a second attempt or “recast” may be granted if, in the judges’ opinion, a dog exhibits confusion at the point of origin. Also, if an initial misdirection is taken by a Started dog and the handler immediately brings the dog back to heel, it may be given a “recast”.

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