Spring Trials in France March 2004
Bill, Dominique and Tatoo with the trophy from his win. Tatoo got his Trialer title in the spring trials 2004 - the first American owned Breton to do so!
Our desire for this trip was to learn first hand the actual running of the dogs in the trials because it is our desire to trial dogs we own in France.
Therefore, on this trip Bill wanted to spend it with the handlers themselves and participate in the training and the running of the dogs in the trials.
One or two trials would not suffice to really gain sufficient experience and knowledge, so he spent a month in France with professional and amatuer drivers and attended a great number of field trials.
Though our dog Tatoo was less than 2 years old he was entered in several trials and he was successful in winning his Trialer designation.
Above: The rendezvous point for the field trial.
The total dog concept utilized by France has successfully preserved the breed throughout all these decades in the country of origin, and it is this concept of the "total dog" that we are striving to maintain and promote at our kennels. The total dog is sometimes referred to in this country as "dual dogs".
Whichever term is used - dual dog or total dog - what it refers to is dogs that perform - in the case of our breed that means hunting, pointing and retrieving upland birds - as well as being within the standard for the breed. The spring and fall field trials in France are walking trials that are held on wild birds only. There can be upwards of 200 or more dogs entered in a given trial in the spring (fall trials are much smaller) and often only a handful qualify for the final run off which determines the winner of the trial, as in the case of the Vimpelles trial which is the big national Breton trial in France.
In France it is required that prior to getting a dog's championship title in the field it must also get at least a very good in a show and the reverse is true for a show title.
Therefore, in the country of origin there will not be field champions that are out of the standard for the breed or with disqualifying faults and likewise it insures that show champions do not lose their ability to hunt. This is the "total dog" concept and it is what has preserved the breed in France for decades. This is the concept that we have actively pursued for our Plum Creek dogs.
In this country many breeds have separated into field dogs or show dogs due to the venues that are in place and not requiring that they do both prior to getting their titles. We have been actively involved in attempting to set up venues in this country based on the concepts utilized in France which has been so successful for them and feel it is of paramount importance that trials used in this country be based on the FCI rules without deviation, but have yet to see this come to fruition.
Bill had already made an extended trip to France to walk with judges in the trials to learn first hand how the trials were judged and seeing the rules put into action.
As President of the breed club we wanted first hand knowledge of the judging and running procedures. And Bill was also pursuing his desire to become licensed as a field trial judge.
Experiencing the French trials from both aspects - the judging and the handling - has provided him with the well rounded knowledge needed.
The dogs in the run off at the Vimpelles trial.
The awards ceremony at Vimpelles.
There are many factors involved in these rules, but some of the main ones are that they are trials on wild birds and they are walking trials - the scenario of actually hunting and there's no running over the same grounds again and again by scores of dogs.
In the meantime, we at Plum Creek plan on competing dogs only in France again in 2005 because we are dedicated to preserving these dogs as they have in the breed's country of origin.