|So many people who are new to retriever field work have
trouble understanding the difference between field trials and hunt
test. So here's a quick explanation:
Field trials differ from hunt tests in that they are competitive.
There may be 60—100 dogs competing in one stake and the judges need
to determine placements—1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, plus a Reserve JAM
(basically 5th place) and usually multiple JAMs. A JAM is usually
given to dogs who complete the entire stake, but didn’t do quite
well enough for a placement.
Because of the need to determine the “best” dogs, the trials
have become rather stylized. Multiple retrieves of 400-600 YARDS each
are not uncommon. Throwers wear white to be seen and dogs are judged
on how straight they run to the birds and how quickly they respond to
their handler’s directions. The scenarios generally have little to
do with hunting and more to do with control over great distances.
In contrast, hunt tests are supposed to simulate a real hunt.
Handlers, judges and workers generally were hunting attire. Retrieves
are usually within 100 yards. Duck calls, decoys, and blinds are often
The biggest difference though between field trials and hunt tests
is that hunt tests are not competitive. Any dog who does the required
work will receive a pass toward a title. In field trials only the dogs
who place receive points toward their title.