The Role of the Field Trial Sub-Committee

The Flatcoated Retriever remains a "dual-purpose" breed; combining good conformation with working ability, but while the Show side of the breed has gone from strength to strength with a very high proportion appearing in the show ring, the numbers being used in the shooting field, whilst difficult to measure, have fallen, and those entering field trials have declined significantly.

The causes of the decline in the popularity of working Flatcoats are too many to discuss here and it is unrealistic to think that somehow the clock can be turned back on over 100 years of breed history. However, for those that continue to work the breed; picking-up, in working tests and in field trials, they know that for very many the true beauty of a Flatcoated Retriever lies in its natural marking, hunting and game finding abilities.

The Field Trial Sub-Committee's primary purpose is to support the Society's membership in training and working their Flatcoats. We hope to encourage more owners to work their dogs, and will support them as far as we can to achieve the highest possible standards. Our focus therefore is:

   to raise the standards across all working disciplines; working tests, field trials, show and
   gundog working certificates and testing, and picking-up
    to assist members in the identification of good quality training for them and their dogs  
    to organise working tests, field trials and other tests for the Society membership and
    to support the maintenance and preservation of a “dual-purpose” Flatcoated Retriever.

Following the AGM in March 2017, the Sub-Committee will communicate regularly with the membership concerning training, working tests, field trials and other working gundog matters using email, social media and this website.

We know that for many, training needs to be provided locally. Through the Sub-Committee and the support of others in the Society, we will encourage the provision of training suitable for the breed to as many Society members as possible. When the Society is unable to provide local training we will work with Gundog Clubs, Trainers and others to provide training opportunities.

The Flatcoated Retriever Society is privileged to be authorised by the Kennel Club to run Field Trials, including an Open Trial that can provide entry to the prestigious International Gundog League annual Retriever Trials Championship. The Sub-Committee recognises that only small numbers of the membership will want to work their dogs at Field Trials but we are keen to ensure that the Society remains able to offer this level of competition to its members. We will therefore be working hard to encourage more members to compete in field trials; we will provide opportunities to participate in field trial training days, mock field trials, and cold-game tests that simulate trialling but without the competitive pressures and in the hope that some of you “catch the bug”.

In addition to a number of working tests that will be run by the Area Working Test organisers, we shall also run the Shirley Radburn Nationals and the Inter-Area Team Challenge, details of which can be found in following pages. We will also run Show Gundog Working Certificates and Shooting Dog Certificates during the year. We also plan to look at the development of a tiered assessment system that will enable handlers and their dogs to undertake a range of tests that demonstrate the essential attributes of a working Flatcoat.

We hope that these schemes will assist members and breeders alike in selecting dogs that are “generously endowed with working ability’ as required by the Flatcoated Retriever breed standard, and enable us to maintain a “dual-purpose” breed for future generations.

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