Retrieving Ability Test for Gun Dogs
The Retrieving Ability Test for Gundogs (RATG) is a test of basic obedience and basic retrieving. The tests are a way for handlers to demonstrate that their gundog has basic retrieving ability. The tests are open to all registered gundogs and are designed so that they can be held at obedience trials or even show events
The tests consist of some basic obedience exercises and two simple retrieves. At the more advanced level both the obedience exercises and the retrieves increase in difficulty. RATG can use retrieving dummies or pigeons for the retrieving part of the test.
Retrieving Trials are basically simulated versions of a day’s shooting, where the dogs are required to locate and retrieve fallen game. These events are conducted in the field under natural conditions, but there is no shooting of game. The retrieves performed are of varying degrees of difficulty according to the level of competition. Gundogs are required to retrieve over land and across water and the retrieves can be sighted or blind (unseen).
In competition, at the starting point, the handler must fire a shotgun armed with blanks while his dog remains at his side. At the same time a dead bird is thrown into the air. Again, the dog must remain steady. On a marked retrieve the dog is expected to mark the line and depth of the fall of the bird and when instructed, take as straight a line as possible and complete the retrieve without instruction from the handler. For a blind retrieve a bird is hidden from the view of the dog, but not the handler. The handler directs the dog using a whistle, voice commands or signals. The dog must obey his handler, taking a line to the bird and stopping to the whistle to take direction from the handler.
The dog must then retrieve the bird and return to the handler, allowing the handler to take the bird from his mouth. Each stake has certain runs that must be completed. Game must not be damaged or retrieved without instruction. Marks are awarded for good work and performance by the dog, but the handler can lose this advantage by using excessive commands and direction.
Retrieving Trial Champions
As each level of competition is reached, the stakes increase in difficulty and expertise required by the dog and handler. A dog who performs with distinction can earn the title of Retrieving Trial Champion (RT Ch). The ultimate title is the title of Grand Retrieving Trial Champion (Gr RT Ch).
Field Trials are competitions conducted under normal hunting conditions on wild game – usually rabbits. Retrievers are required to hunt, flush and retrieve game and the handler must carry a gun and shoot any legal game found. Field Trials encourage the maintenance and development of the natural working ability of gundogs.
Field Trials test the dogs under normal hunting conditions to evaluate their natural ability and performance. Golden Retrievers are eligible to compete in Spaniel and Retriever Trials.
The aim of the dog in a Field Trial is to find game by quartering at high speed while scenting the air and to find and flush the game, before retrieving it. The dog must be under control at all times. In a Field Trial a brace of two dogs compete against each other and are judged on the following – ranging and quartering, drawing and roading, staunchness, steadiness, obedience, action and style, game finding, seeking dead game or retrieving and acknowledgment of flushed game.
Field Trial Champions
A Field Trial Champion (FT Ch) must have shown exceptional natural ability as well as obedience and specialised training for the type of work required. Even then, no dog can become a Field Trial Champion unless he has beaten all the available competition on at least two occasions at an open level.