Keep Walking Field Trials Traditional - don't allow ATV's to ruin our sport!

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Doug Ljungren, VP of Sports & Events at the American Kennel Club

Pointing Breed Field trials have a storied tradition of using Horses as a tool for judging events.  Some factions are pushing to allow the use of All Terrain Vehicles in lieu of horses for judging, simply because they feel it is easier to obtain ATV's for use in the event.

The use of Horses while judging offers numerous advantages over All Terrain Vehicles.

  • Ability to view the action 

There is a long held saying in the sport "We can't judge what we can't see".  With an ATV, the average height of the judges head is lower than the average person walking.  While horseback, it is several feet higher.  This allows for a far better viewing platform from which to witness and evaluate the performance, which is the Primary purpose of a Pointing breed Judge.

  • Ability to hear

For an ATV to be of value in a test, current technology indicates it must be gas powered.  Gas engines not only are smelly from the exhaust, the emit noise.  When handling or judging, being able to hear a dog moving through cover, or a handler's command to his dog, or an instruction from a judge are all important aspects.  When one needs to talk over an engine this impedes the event.

  • Ability to approach birdwork without intrusion.

On horseback, one can easily move to a find, through terrain and cover, while being able to adequately witness the dogs performance.  While approaching, the judge can come in quietly as to not disturb the dog, handler or bird.  This approach on a gasoline powered vehicle is not possible.

  • Ability to cover ground

ATV's are great tools.  The can go many places easily.  But, the horse is still the best at getting to hard to reach places where field trial finds are often located.  Additionally, even IF ATV's are allowed by landowners - they are often relegated to specific roads or trails.  Departure from that requires dismounting and walking for example to a find off the trail, further degrading the ability to judge the dog's performance.

  • Help bridge walking and horseback field trials instead of further division

It is no secret that there is a divide within the Pointing breed Field trial world between Horseback and walking Field trial participants, and the title of Field Champion.  By eliminating the requirement of judging from a horse, it can build a further divide, rather than an avenue to bridge the already existing gap.  

  • Keep Tradition in the Sport

Certainly, times change.  As with many things we have seen Field trials evolve over time.  One central, integral component throughout has been the use of horses at Field Trials.  As almost any horseback judge will attest, the draw of a horse to children attending an event is outstanding.  It is part of the history, tradition and charm of our sport.  There are other venues that promote motorsports, other associations that a participant can run dogs with judging from ATV's.  We want to be part of tradition, not just a copy of another venue or association.  With that tradition comes a uniqueness that is attractive to many.  Loss of that tradition will undoubtedly be a loss of some of our most Senior participants, Judges and supporters.

Please sign this petition and let AKC know that we cherish our Tradition in Field trialing, and that the horse is an integral, required and important tool in the ability to properly judge our Pointing dog Performances.

You can also make your support known by emailing Doug Ljungren, VP of Sports & Events at the American Kennel Club (AKC) at DVL@akc.org



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