Registration is now open for Working Teams and Auditors at HuntSecretary.com. MSDA members may receive a discount. Much more information is below!
Spaniels were originally bred to hunt, find, and flush upland game out of their hiding places – pointers and setters did the pointing, and retrievers did the retrieving. Today’s upland dogs are expected to hunt, find, point or flush, be steady to wing and shot, and reliably retrieve or respectfully honor another dog’s retrieve.
MSDA is pleased to announce a late-June training workshop to be led by professional trainer/handler Jordan Horak. The workshop is a two-day program for dogs and handlers who are beginning upland work, or who want help taking their dogs to the highest level.
The workshop will be held on Saturday June 19 and Sunday June 20 at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. A limited number of private lessons will be available on Monday, June 21. Please note that this is a change of dates from what was previously announced.
Much more information is available below. Registration opens soon for MSDA members and non-members.
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
Saturday and Sunday will be “hands-on” sessions limited to 12 Working Teams (dogs and handlers) and 14 Auditors/Spectators. Working Teams will receive instructional guidance directly from Jordan both days. The workshop will include interactive discussions with all attendees, so auditors are highly encouraged. Plus, video cameras and still photographs are permitted.
For 8 of the 12 registered Working Teams, there is an optional third day for Private Lessons with Jordan on Monday for those who want an hour focused on their specific training needs. This would effectively turn the event into a 3-day workshop for 8 Working Teams. (All handlers that register for Private Lessons will be asked if they mind if other Private Lesson registrants watch their session.)
The two-day workshop will present the fundamentals of yard training for sporting dogs focusing on:
Foundation-building exercises and drills in the yard geared to puppies through adult dogs.
Using Cato Boards, speed leads and no leads to teach basic upland commands, e.g., place, casting-off, quartering, hand signals, steadiness, whistle commands (get out, hup, turn, draw-in and recall), and gone away.
How to transition from yard work to field work.
There will some field time using live birds, probably pigeons, on the second day (Sunday). Dogs that demonstrate a certain level of competence with foundation work on Saturday may be asked to participate in a demonstration using live birds on Sunday.
Are you and your dog a candidate for this seminar? Handlers and owners of all levels of experience and interest are welcome. Ideally, participating dogs should have a demonstrated desire to retrieve. The ideal human attendee isn’t looking for a quick fix, but is instead looking for ways to build a strong upland relationship with their dog.
Seminar Fees are:
Working Team (Both Days): $300
Auditor/Spectator (Both Days): $175
Auditor/Spectator for One Day Only: $100
Private Lesson: $95
Registration fees range from $4.50 to $8.00 per entry.
Current MSDA members are being offered a $25 discount if they register for both days as either a Working Team or as an Auditor/Spectator. If you are an MSDA member, contact Steve Surprenant at Surprenant@mdsportingdog.org for the discount code before registering for the workshop. Member discounts cannot be applied retroactively.
Seminar fees include morning coffee and pastries, lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and a BBQ dinner on Saturday evening.
Registration for MSDA members and non-members are now open via HuntSecretary.com. The closing date is June 11th, but slots for working teams, auditors, and private lessons are very likely to fill up before then.
WORKSHOP SCHEDULE AND FORMAT
Saturday, June 19 — 8:00 am to approximately 5:30 pm
8:00 am: Check-in; enjoy coffee and a light breakfast.
8:30 am: Assemble in the yard. Introductions. Overview from Jordan about upland training and spaniel hunt tests. Each working team will describe to Jordan and the group where they are in their training and their workshop goals. Based on this information, Jordan will begin calling forth handler teams and tailor a drill for them based on further one-on-one conversation on each team’s upland level and experience.
12:00 pm: Break for lunch.
1:00 pm: Assemble back in the yard; working teams continue to run drills with Jordan.
5:00 pm: Session ends with Q&A.
Immediately after seminar: BBQ dinner/get-together with Jordan at Thornhill Farm.
Sunday, June 20— 8:00 am to approximately 4:30 pm
8:00 am: Assemble in the field. Light breakfast while Jordan answers questions and discusses previous day’s work.
8:30 am: Yard vs. Field Training discussion. Intro to field concepts and field demonstration.
12:00 pm: Assemble back in the yard and break for lunch.
1:00 pm: In the yard, working teams continue to run drills.
End of day: Q&A, discussion and final comments from Jordan at the conclusion of the workshop.
ADDITIONAL SEMINAR INFORMATION
On a “first come, first served” basis, Private Lessons are only available to 8 of the 12 Working Teams that register for the two-day Saturday/Sunday Seminar.
Working teams are limited to one handler and a maximum of two dogs; only one dog can be worked per concept/drill.
Workshop activities will be entirely outside. This event will be held rain or shine.
Covid precautions will be as required by CDC, Maryland, Howard County, and Thornhill Farm.
Registrants will have to sign liability releases for both MSDA and Thornhill Farms.
Video and still photography is permitted.
WHAT TO BRING
Clothing/footwear appropriate for dog training and appropriate to the weather forecast
Pad of paper, a pen, and a highlighter pen
Chair and a clip board or something else to write on
E-collar (optional; there will be no specific e-collar training)
Workshop topics and schedule may be adjusted based on the needs of the working teams, the weather, or other factors. Topics listed here are representative and not meant to be all-inclusive as every dog is different.
There will be no refunds for cancelations by registrants before or after the closing date. Registrations are transferable to others if approved in advance by MSDA. Contact the Event Chair, Steve Surprenant if you need to cancel.
MSDA has not worked out special hotel rates with the hotels listed above and is not endorsing these particular hotels.
There are other dog-friendly hotels in Frederick, Ellicott City, and Baltimore, Maryland that are further away from the workshop location. Please check directly with hotels regarding rates, dogs in room, and deposits that may be required.
Coffee and pastries will be provided each morning, and lunch will be provided on Saturday and Sunday. Liquid refreshments will be available during the day. No lunches will be provided during private lessons.
On Saturday evening, a BBQ get-together with Jordan will be held immediately after the seminar at Thornhill Farm.
At MSDA, we often receive inquiries about whether or not a whistle has to be used in training, which whistle is best for training, and do different sporting dog breeds need different whistles?
In answering these questions, this article assumes:
That the reader has already decided to use a whistle in field training, hunting, hunt tests and/or field trials, and they need to make a preliminary decision about which whistle to use.
That the reader will not use a whistle as a command or while handling until after the dog has already learned that command without a whistle.
A sporting dog’s ability to hear There is a hearing difference among dog breeds – those with floppy ears covered with hair won’t be able to hear as well as those with erect ears. But there is no material difference in the hearing between any of the sporting dog breeds.
Humans can hear a frequency range between 20 and 20,000 Hz; dogs can hear 40 to 60,000 Hz. The smaller the number the lower the sound; the higher the number the higher the pitch. This explains why a dog can hear a silent whistle, which emits a sound above 20,000 Hz, yet the sound is inaudible to most humans.
People need to train their dogs before incorporating a whistle There are many dog owners who have exceedingly high expectations of a dog whistle. A toot on a whistle has no inbred meaning for a dog. A dog may be interested the first few times he hears a whistle’s distinct and/or unusual sound. The dog may even approach you to investigate, but the effect is typically temporary. Over time, the dog will lose interest in the whistle unless he begins to associate the sound with something that he has been already taught to do.
Do you need a whistle to train a sporting dog? Strictly speaking, the answer is “no”. You can teach any dog a command with voice alone. Once a command is learned, you can add hand signals to help a dog understand the command at a distance. But, out in the field, a dog may not be able to hear your voice or see your hand signal. During hunting, a hunt test or a field trail, using a whistle will be appreciated by fellow hunters, handlers and judges, and is much more dignified than yelling at your dog from the top of your lungs.
A whistle for sporting dog training is helpful for three primary reasons.
A whistle is easier to hear – the human voice does not carry as effectively as a whistle over distance, especially on a windy day.
A whistle is clear and unambiguous – the human voice is variable in pitch and easily distorted by environmental factors. A good quality whistle will not alter in pitch when you are angry or tired.
A whistle is less disturbing to most wildlife – the human voice is very disturbing to wild game, and sporting dog work should be carried out with a quiet hunt whenever possible.
A whistle is not always the answer in every situation. Sometimes, you may want to work a dog in almost complete silence; for example, in close quarters a hand signal, or whisper voice, may be more appropriate.
In practice, most sporting dog handlers should first teach voice commands and then add whistles and hand signals as training progresses and the dog has already learned the voice command.
Choosing a whistle A whistle choice often comes down to the handler’s preference as the specific pitch doesn’t make any difference to the dog. Once you have bought your first whistle, you are likely to use that whistle “type” for the rest of your life. However, no two dogs are exactly alike which can make it more difficult to choose the perfect whistle from the beginning.
Most people have to experiment to see which whistle is just right. Some handlers will buy a half-dozen or more of the same whistles at a time to test each one for the exact sound they want. Other handlers, even if they have been around for a long time may switch whistle preference with some regularity.
Whistles for sporting dogs The breed of sporting dog and the type of training can impact which whistle you may choose. Spaniels tend to work closely and you may not need to use a whistle with a large sound radius even if cover is thick. A pointer will spend a lot of their time air scenting at a distance, but once on game, they will get into the undergrowth; you may benefit from a whistle which can cut through thick groundcover at a distance. And, retrievers work over long distances so you need a loud whistle for giving instruction and a reliable recall.
Additionally, if you have a retriever that runs in retriever hunt tests as well as spaniel hunt tests, or a spaniel or a pointer that runs in retriever hunt tests as well as spaniel or pointer tests, it’s nearly impossible to pick one whistle that works well in two different test types. Just because a dog has learned to recall on three toots on one type whistle, does not mean they will recall well with three toots on a different whistle type. There are some combination dog whistles (aka dual-tone whistles), but they still yield different tones on different frequencies as if you were using two different whistles.
Many of the dog whistles have a “pea,” a small cork ball inside the whistle shell. A pea allows you to “trill” the whistle and make different combinations of sounds. However, the pea in a whistle can freeze in cold weather from your saliva. For cold weather training and other reasons, many handlers use a pealess whistle which are also better at making quick blasts. And a metal whistle that works well in most seasons, can freeze to your lip in below freezing temperatures.
Making the final decision Even though some whistles are better suited for different situations, in the end, it’s your choice. No matter what whistle you choose, to get the most out of it you must know how to blow it and be consistent with your tones.
If you’re interested in learning more about choosing and using a whistle, the following links may be of interest to you:
MSDA will hold two days — two separate events — of AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton MD. Junior, Senior and Master stakes will be available each day and all eligible flushing breeds are welcome. Chukars will be used for all testing. The entry limit for each day is 55 dogs in total, and each day there will be two fields and judging panels operating simultaneously. The judges are:
John P. Dunn and Jeffrey Thomas (Division A on Saturday, Division B on Sunday), and
Mary Lou Dunn and Jeff Zimmerman (Division B on Saturday, Division A on Sunday.
Running orders are drawn independently for Saturday and Sunday, but entrants who are signed up for both days of hunt tests will remain in the same Division (A or B) for both Saturday and Sunday.
Both Saturday and Sunday, judging begins promptly at 8 am and continues until completion, typically ending after 3 pm. A midday lunch break will be taken as decided by the judges, and ribbons will be awarded at the clubhouse after the end of the testing.
Due to the pandemic, no food will be provided to handlers on the premises this year, so handlers and guests should provide their own lunches, snacks, and drinks. Some information about local restaurant and take-out options as well as nearby hotels is provided further down this page.
Online entry is available right here on this website at http://mdsportingdog.org/online-entry-for-spring-hunt-tests/. The entry fee is $70 per dog per event. There are no additional fees for online entry and payment. Payment may be made securely online (via Square) using a credit card, or you may mail a check. Entry forms are also included with the official Premium List in this PDF. Paper entries that are mailed must include a check as payment.
For all hunt tests, entries close at 8 pm (Eastern) on Saturday, May 1, 2021 or when entry limits are reached, whichever occurs earlier. Entries are not complete until payment is received. Entries will be drawn, and running orders established, starting at 8 pm on Sunday, May 2, 2021.
To change or cancel your reservation you must contact the Hunting Test Secretary by email, phone or text. Full refunds will be given if you cancel for any reason by the entry deadline on May 1st. After May 1, refunds will be given only for a bitch in season or if a dog is sick or injured. Veterinary confirmation may be required.
Not just for spaniels, the hunting tests are open to all eligible flushing breeds. Currently, these are: Airedale Terrier, American Water Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Poodle, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Standard Poodle, Sussex Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel. Dogs of these breeds recorded with the Purebred Alternative Listing Program/Indefinite Listing Privilege (PAL/ILP) or dogs with Conditional registration are eligible to participate. Spayed and neutered dogs are eligible to participate. Bitches in season are not eligible to participate, nor are they allowed on the grounds. Dogs with Limited Registration are eligible to participate.
Look who’s coming! So far, we have one of more of the following breeds entered: Boykin Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Welsh Springer Spaniel.
USE OF CALLBACKS: On Saturday ONLY, depending on the number of entries and the weather, we are hoping to provide all participants the opportunity to be judged in all the elements of their test, rather than using callbacks that reduce the number of dogs participating as the test proceeds each day. In both judging divisions on Saturday, we will assume that all dogs will be available in running order for all portions of the testing. Of course, if you choose to withdraw your dog at any point, you may do so simply by informing the marshal. The Sunday hunt tests will be run using callbacks so that, for example, if your dog does not qualify on one portion of the test, they will not be called back to continue that day.
MSDA FIELD DAY: This seems like a good place to put in a shameless plug for the Flushing Group at MSDA’s Annual Field Day. It’s held in the same location (Rebel Ridge) and is a great hunt test practice opportunity (up to six chukars per dog) for those who live in the region. Field Day this year is Saturday, April 17th and the registration deadline is this Wednesday, April 14th.
AKC JUNIOR HANDLER PROGRAM: Anyone up to the age of 18 is eligible to compete as a Junior Handler in hunting tests and other AKC performance events. MSDA welcomes Junior Handlers and offers a reduced entry fee of $35 for dogs handled by a Junior Handler. To participate as a Junior Handler, you must obtain a number from the AKC by having a parent or guardian submit this form. (If you don’t yet have a Jr. Handler number when you enter, send in the AKC form and meanwhile write “applied for” in the space on the MSDA hunting test entry.)
WORKING DOG TESTS: Before there were AKC Hunt Tests, MSDA held the first Working Dog Test for English Cocker Spaniels in 1977. In keeping with that tradition, we are once again offering our annual Working Dog Tests (WD, WDX) on Sunday May 8th ONLY. You do not have to be entered in the AKC Hunting Tests to participate in Working Dog Tests, though we offer a discounted entry fee to dogs signed up for both WD and either Junior Hunter or Senior Hunter, since those can be judged simultaneously. The fee for entering a standalone WD test is $35 per dog. If the dog is also entered in either JH or SH on Sunday and WD can be judged simultaneously, the WD fee is only $15.
If you are interested in working dog tests, please note that approval to hold these tests must be obtained separately from each breed club. We try to obtain approval at least for English Cockers and several other spaniel breeds, however this is not guaranteed. We recommend signing up early to be sure that we have time to get approval for your breed. (WD and hunting tests entries will open soon.) Breeds without parent club approval are welcome to run in the separate WD test, but they will not receive parent club recognition. Please check with your breed’s parent club for WD/WDX upland hunting test requirements and judging guidelines. Such information is usually on the parent club’s website.
BLAZE ORANGE REQUIRED: The AKC, the State of Maryland, and MSDA require that all people in the field (where there is live fire) wear blaze/fluorescent orange clothing. This includes judges, gunners, handlers, marshals, bird planters, seminar attendees, and observers in the field. A cap by itself is not sufficient to meet this requirement. You need a “vest or jacket containing back and front panels of at least 250 square inches of solid fluorescent orange color (worn as outer garment at all times) or an outer garment of camouflage fluorescent orange worn above the waist which contains at least 50% fluorescent orange color.” If you are a spectator remaining outside the fields, blaze orange is not absolutely required. It is also not required during hunt dead and water portions of tests. However, blaze orange is strongly recommended for everyone on the property and it is the favorite fashion statement color for these events! A very limited number of plain blaze orange t-shirts will be available for sale on site for $5.00 each.
PANDEMIC MITIGATION STEPS: We expect to still be taking Covid-related precautions in early May. While these have not been finalized, and will depend on regulations and guidance at that time, you might want to visit our Field Day page to see what precautions will be in place at another event a few weeks earlier. We will be sure to make the rules clear in advance of the hunting tests; if you are not comfortable being around other humans under the circumstances or are not willing to cheerfully comply with the rules of the day, please either do not sign up for our hunt tests or cancel before the deadline to obtain a full refund.
SEVERE CORRECTION OR DISCIPLINE will not be allowed on any part of the grounds at any time. TRAINING by dogs and handlers entered in the hunt tests is not permitted. Dogs can be aired or exercised only in designated areas (areas that will not be used during the course of the tests). Please scoop poop from where people will be walking and deposit the poop bags in trash receptacles.
LOCATION: Once again our hunt tests will be at Rebel Ridge Farms located at 295 Woods Road, Elkton, Maryland 21921. Convenient to I-95, a variety of restaurants, hotels that welcome dogs, and an RV/camping site, this beautiful property provides more than 250 acres of fields, ponds, and woods as well as a heated and air-conditioned clubhouse. (Unfortunately, due to the continuing risks associated with Covid-19, we do not expect to be using the clubhouse this spring.) Most GPS will find Rebel Ridge easily using the address. After you turn in to the property, drive very slowly approaching the dip before the bridge! Follow the driveway in and stay right at the fork. The clubhouse is the last low building on the left. Pull in there to pick up a hunt test catalog, get field assignments, and ask questions.
A note about blue-green algae: There has been much attention paid to toxic algae blooms, especially in waters that collect a lot of fertilizer run-off. This has not been a problem at Rebel Ridge Farms. Experts from Aquatic Engineering complete periodic examinations of Rebel Ridge’s man-made ponds and, to date, have not seen any evidence of algae blooms. The owners swim their own dogs (including their puppies) regularly, and there are events scheduled at Rebel Ridge before our hunting test date.
WHERE TO STAY and WHERE TO EAT: Please do not call Rebel Ridge to ask for hotel and restaurant recommendations! An updated list of hotels and restaurants is provided below. Note that, due to pandemic-related precautions, this year MSDA is not offering lunch for handlers and guests, so you need to provide your own lunch, snacks and drinks each day.
First, here is information on some local accommodations. This is not a complete list. Please read the notes below the list about nightly rates, pet policies, etc.
Important notes: In March 2021, we checked rates for a room for one person, assuming a 2-night stay 5/7-5/9. Rates do not include any special discounts, taxes or pet fees. Rates also change frequently, so we suggest you check into several options before booking a room. “Pet friendly” hotels usually have restrictions such as a limited number of rooms, weight limits on dogs, limits on number of dogs and, of course, extra charges. Be sure to check pet policy carefully when booking, especially since we have observed that stated policies may differ from reality and may change over time. These are not complete lists and specifically there are many more hotels and restaurants in Newark DE, near the Univ of Delaware.
For lunch, some nearby sandwich shops and fast food service include:
5 minutes to: Brantwood Discount Liquors and Country Store: 1076 Augustine Herman Hwy Elkton, MD 21921. 410-392-4295. Brantwood has some groceries, sodas, and a deli counter offering made-to-order sandwiches. This is the option closest to Rebel Ridge, about 5 minutes from the site.
10 minutes to: There are a large number of fast food restaurants in Elkton, many along Rte 40 (Pulaski Hwy) at Rte 213 (Augustine Herman Hwy) including:
Burger King (100 W. Pulaski Hwy)
Starbucks (101 W. Pulaski Hwy)
McDonald’s (101 E. Pulaski Hwy)
Sonic Drive-In (103 E. Pulaski Hwy)
Taco Bell (110 E. Pulaski Hwy)
Royal Farms (25 Augustine Herman Hwy, just south of Rte 40)
Pulaski Hwy addresses start at 100 E or W where Augustine Herman Hwy (Rte 213) crosses Pulaski Hwy (Rte 40). Odd numbers are on the north side of Rte 40; even numbers are on the south side. Google says it’s 9 minutes from Rebel Ridge to that corner. Other options, including Popeye’s and Dunkin’ are in the Big Elk Shopping Centre just northeast of that intersection.
Take-out the night before: There’s also a Kentucky Fried Chicken at 260 Belle Hill Road in Elkton. This is too far to dash out for lunch but, if you have a refrigerator, you can pick up some chicken and coleslaw the night before and bring it for picnic lunch during the day.
More likely for dinners, some local restaurants include the following. As of late March, all seem open for both at least limited indoor dining and for takeout. Some have outdoor dining spaces as well.
Baker’s Restaurant: 1075 Augustine Herman Hwy Elkton, MD 21921. 410-398-2435 Known locally for: American/comfort food. If you’re looking to join a group of fellow hunt-testers, you’re most likely to find some at Bakers on Saturday evening.
The Blue Crab Grill: 322 Suburban Plaza Newark, DE 19711. 302-737-1100 Known locally for: Seafood
Chesapeake Inn Restaurant: 605 Second St Chesapeake City, MD 21915. 410-885-2040 Known locally for: Upscale (!) seafood & American
Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen: 270 E Main Street Newark, DE 19711. 302-444-8646 Known locally for: Burgers & more, specialty beers
Jo Jo’s Super Dogs: 214 E Pulaski Hwy Elkton, MD 21921. 410-392-9830 Known locally for: Diner style, breakfast favorites
Enter MSDA’s spring Spaniel Hunting Tests and Working Dog Tests now by scrolling down and filling out the online form below.
There are no additional fees for online entry. For all hunt tests, entries close at 8 pm (Eastern) on Saturday, May 1, 2021 or when entry limits are reached, whichever occurs earlier. Entries are not complete until payment is received.
Not ready to enter? If you need more information about MSDA’s Spring Hunting Tests, there’s lots of info available here.
After your entry is submitted and reviewed by an actual human, a detailed confirmation e-mail with payment instructions will be sent within 24 hours. You will have the option of using a unique secure link to pay online (via Square) with a major credit card or you may mail a check to MSDA’s Hunting Test Secretary. Fees are as follows:
For Junior, Senior, and Master hunt tests, $70 per dog per test. Except, if the dog is handled by an AKC-registered junior handler, the fee is only $35.
For the Working Dog flushing test (Sunday only), the fee is $35. However, if you are also testing at the Junior or Senior Hunter level the same day, the WD fee is only $15.
There are no additional fees for using the online entry and payment process.
A lot more information is available here. If you prefer to use a paper entry form for entering the hunting tests, download this PDF which includes the Premium List and printable entry forms. Entry for the working dog tests is online only.
Good News! MSDA’s Annual Field Day — a FUN day of field work for bird dogs of all experience and skill levels — will be Saturday April 17 at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD. Online registration is available only through Wednesday April 14th. But, before signing up, please read through the descriptions below so you know what we’re planning. We’re looking forward to seeing you on April 17th!
To help keep everyone safe, we expect to be screening for Covid-19 symptoms at the entrance and will be requiring people to wear masks and practice social distancing whenever possible. Also, we will not be using the clubhouse at Rebel Ridge, will be actively discouraging mingling between groups, and will ask everyone to bring their own lunch, snacks, and drinks for the day. More details about safety precautions are listed below, but if you are not comfortable with spending a day with other humans or are not willing to cheerfully comply with the rules, please do not sign up to attend Field Day this year.
To keep all working groups small, Field Day will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions. The schedule for the day will be as follows: 8:00-8:30 Check-in for morning 8:30-11:30 Morning sessions 11:30-12:30 Lunch break and transition; check-in for afternoon 12:30-3:30 Afternoon sessions 3:30-4:00 Clean-up and departure The Pointing and Retrieving groups will be operating identical sessions in morning and afternoon, so you can pick either one (or both) to suit your schedule. The Flushing group will limit the morning session to Beginner and Intermediate dogs; the afternoon Flushing session will be for Intermediate and Advanced. For all sessions, we are scheduling plenty of volunteers and limiting group sizes so that participants will get lots of attention without too much waiting around. Each session (e.g., Morning Pointing, Afternoon Retrieving) will be limited to no more than ten dogs.
Though activities are targeted at Sporting Group dogs who are interested in hunting, hunt tests, and field trials, Field Day welcomes all “birdy” dogs.
Look who’s coming! We have one or more of the following breeds signed up: Barbet, Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Clumber Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Irish Red and White Setter, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Poodle, Standard Poodle, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.
Field Day is designed to accommodate everyone from true beginner dogs (who have never met a bird) to experienced hunters. Please feel free to contact one of our group leaders (listed below) if you have questions about specific activities.
You do not need to be a club member to attend Field Day. Like most other MSDA events, it is open to all dog-lovers.
Fees are $10 per handler for the day, plus $30 per dog per session (i.e., morning or afternoon). Birds are included in the per-dog fee for all groups and levels from True Beginner to Advanced. All gunners will be provided by MSDA.
Field Day 2020 was cancelled due to Covid, but here are a few pictures from previous years.
Rebel Ridge Farms is a private property located in northeastern Maryland and has:
250+ acres of specially-managed sporting dog training areas connected by a driveway that runs the length of the property
Eight major field areas, up to 1,000 feet long, with low to medium cover
Field Day is divided into groups according to hunting style: Flushing, Pointing, and Retrieving. Group leaders and volunteers include very experienced handlers, hunters, hunt test judges, trainers and gunners. Group activities and individual attention for you and your dog(s) are based on your training goals for the day. Field Day is set up to be attentive to each dog’s experience and needs, rather than running all dogs through a standard set of drills. We will keep the groups small so that everyone gets plenty of time and attention. Birds will be provided and are included in the per-dog fee for the session.
With the exception of Beginner Flushing (which is only available in the morning) and Advanced Flushing (which is only available in the afternoon), you may sign up for morning or afternoon sessions, or both. For Field Day 2021, visiting and mingling between groups is not encouraged this year.
Below is some more information about specific activities and goals for the Flushing, Pointing, and Retrieving groups. The descriptions and examples are deliberately general. Group leaders will be aware of individual dogs’ needs and experience (based on what you enter on your registration form and from conversations with you), and will organize their groups and activities accordingly. If you are unsure about which group or level your dog belongs in, you can check “not sure” on the registration form and a Field Day committee member will get in touch with you. Meanwhile, please read the descriptions below and feel free to contact any of the group leaders if you have questions.
Beginner activities for the flushing group will only be available during the morning session. Intermediate will be offered both morning and afternoon. Advanced Flushing will only be available in the afternoon session.
Beginner & Intermediate Flushing: There will be demonstrations, individual and group activities to work on quartering, flushing, and basic retrieving skills with both land and water work. With a true beginner dog, we may start out allowing the dog to chase down a bird. Once the prey drive has been ramped up, the next step would be to flush a bird with a starter pistol fired in the background. The dog might then get to flush a bird which the gunner would shoot, if possible. Dogs who are already familiar with birds and live fire will benefit from more advanced skill drills and may practice finding, flushing and retrieving a shot bird. Training with bumpers or birds on land and/or water will fill out the session, even for those who are not ready for actual hunting. If your dog has never met a bird or has not been exposed to gunfire, please check off “Beginner” on the registration form. If your dog has experience with birds and has been exposed to gunfire, please check off “Intermediate” on the registration form. Intermediate will include some dogs who are working on Junior and Senior Hunt Tests. Steve Roth will be leading the Beginner and Intermediate Flushing groups.
Advanced Flushing: Advanced flushing dogs should have a reliable recall and be steady or at least working on being steady. The Advanced Flushing area will be set up like a hunt test. Find, flush, and retrieve birds. Also, practice marked and blind retrieves, with water work at an adjacent pond. Handlers in the Advanced Flushing group will be expected to be able to handle their dogs largely on their own, although a volunteer mentor will serve as a mock judge to offer observations and guidance if desired, but dogs will not be scored. MSDA will provide experienced gunners. (Handlers may not do their own shooting.) Handlers should know what they want to work on and how many birds they would like to have for the session. Unlike the other Field Day groups, the per-dog fee for Advanced Flushing explicitly includes three chukars, and Advanced Flushing handlers may purchase up to three additional chukars. Steve Surprenant will be leading the Advanced Flushing group.
Morning and afternoon Pointing Group sessions will be the same, so you may sign up for either one (or both).
For beginner and intermediate pointing dogs, there will be no live fire. Activities will focus on heeling, quartering, and bird work drills. All dogs will participate as a group in each drill on a check cord (long rope attached to your dog), and will have the opportunity to also have an introduction to backing as participants in these drills. If interested and ready, your dog can be introduced to a cap gun. Beginner and intermediate participants are encouraged to also watch the Advanced dogs work.
Advanced pointing dogs are those with a reliable recall and exposure to live fire. A backing dog will be available and birds will be in launchers. A cap gun or live fire will be used. Dogs can run in braces and practice retrieving. We encourage advanced handlers to assist/mentor the beginner and intermediate handlers.
Morning and afternoon Retrieving Group sessions will be the same, so you may sign up for either one (or both).
For beginning and intermediate retrievers, we will have individual and group exercises with bumpers and live birds. We can work on basic retrieving skills, learn what obedience skills are needed, and introduce dogs to land and water marks. We may introduce gunfire to those who feel their dog is ready. All dogs without a reliable recall are required to work on a longline or checkline attached to the dog’s collar.
Advanced retrieving dogs are those with exposure to dead or live birds and at least basic land/water retrieving skills. Land and water exercises may be done with and without gunfire. There will be no live flyers, however, without prior permission from group leaders and gunners. Advanced dogs may focus on single, double and triple retrieves, blind retrieves and honors. If there is time, we can also accommodate those looking to practice special skills such as tolling. Advanced dogs should arrive at the field with a plan and their training goals for the day. More experienced handlers also are expected to share their expertise with the beginner and intermediate handlers and dogs.
Important notes: In March 2021, we checked rates for a room for one person, assuming a 1-night stay 4/16-4/17. Rates do not include any special discounts, taxes or pet fees. “Pet friendly” hotels usually have restrictions such as a limited number of rooms, weight limits on dogs, limits on number of dogs and, of course, extra charges. Be sure to check pet policy carefully when booking, especially since we have observed that stated policies may differ from reality and may change over time. These are not complete lists and specifically there are many more hotels and restaurants in Newark DE, near the Univ of Delaware.
Those who travel with an RV, camper or tent are directed to Lums Pond State Park in Bear DE, about a 10-minute drive from Rebel Ridge Farms. (Lums Pond reservations tend to fill up quickly and may already be unavailable, especially for RVs, for Field Day weekend.) Note that Rebel Ridge is private property and does not provide overnight parking or camping.
Other Important Information:
This event will be held rain or shine! Fortunately, our relatively late cancellation deadline (Wednesday 4/14) leaves time for you to check the weather forecast and change your mind without penalty.
For safety reasons, blaze orange clothing (not just a hat) is strongly recommended for all participants and guests, and is required in fields with live fire. We will have a very limited number of plain blaze orange short-sleeve t-shirts available for purchase ($5 cash or check) at the entrance.
Even in the spring, it’s important to bring shade for your dog to rest and plenty of cold water to drink in the field. The perimeter of the property is forested and there is intermittent shade along the edges of fields and in the parking areas near the clubhouse. However, many cars (and people and dogs) will be spending time in unshaded areas that can become hot on a sunny day.
This is Not a “Normal” Field Day:
If you have attended a previous Field Day and want to know how this year will be different, here are some key points:
Lots of health precautions this year
No clubhouse access
Half day, rather than full day, sessions to keep groups smaller (but busier!)
No free “guests”: all humans pay the $10 handler fee.
No potluck lunch, CGC testing, or shared seminars (e.g., about e-collars)
No raffle and no custom Field Day t-shirts
Per-dog fee has been raised to cover higher costs of birds
Advanced Flushing group may purchase additional birds
Probably no “Work-On-Your-Own” Group
We are looking forward to bringing back many extra Field Day activities, such as clubhouse use, the fabulous potluck lunch, and shared activities such as CGC testing in 2022.
Pandemic Mitigation Steps:
We’re not yet sure exactly what procedures will be required, but here are the most likely precautions:
A mask covering your nose and mouth will be required except when eating, gunning, running your dog, or presenting to a group.
Social distancing (6′ minimum) from anyone not in your household will be required when not wearing a mask and is recommended at all times.
Hand sanitizer stations will be available – please make generous use of them.
Attendees will complete a short “symptom checklist” upon arrival to ensure that they do not have common Covid-19 symptoms.
There may be temperature checks (using a remote thermometer) at the property entrance.
There will be no access to the clubhouse interior.
There should be little or no mingling or movement between groups (Flushing, Pointing, Retrieving).
There will be no shared lunch and no shared group activities (such as CGC testing, raffle, or e-collar seminar) that would encourage people to mix and mingle.
All rules apply even to those who have been partially or fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.
Anyone not complying with these rules at Field Day will be directed to leave, and no refund will be given.
How to Sign Up:
Online registration is available right here online. Registration closes Wednesday night April 14th. (You must pre-register: Field Day does not accommodate on-site registration.) After completing the registration form, including selecting your working group and level, you will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours. An actual human reviews every registration form, so the confirmation does not arrive instantly. If we have any questions or you mark “not sure” about your group or level, we will contact you before sending the confirmation.
The confirmation email contains a unique link to an online invoice (at Square.com). You can pay quickly and securely online using a credit card or you may mail a check. You are not fully registered until your payment is completed. All registrations and payments must be received no later than Wednesday, April 14th. Until then, you may cancel and receive a full refund. After Wednesday 4/14, refunds will only be given if your dog/bitch becomes sick or injured, goes into heat, or if you (the human) becomes ill or has been exposed to Covid-19 (or other contagious disease). To receive a refund after 4/14, you must notify the Event Chair no later than noon on Field Day. Please please do not try to attend Field Day if you might be contagious!
Thank-You! We hope that you are as excited as we are about being able to participate in MSDA’s Field Day this spring!
Saturday April 17, 2021 8:30 am – 3:30 pm Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD
Registration is online only, via the form below. You do not need to be a member of MSDA to participate in Field Day!
The registration deadline is Wednesday, April 14th, but some sessions may fill up before then. You are not fully registered until your invoice has been paid. Remember that you can cancel for any reason through 4/14 and receive a full refund.
A lot of information about the event, the location, and planned activities is available here, and the following Field Day committee members also will be happy to answer your questions.
If you’re having trouble with this form or need to make changes to a previously-submitted registration, please e-mail Pamela DeSmidt.
Re WAITLIST – Some sessions are already filled and, though you can add your name to a waiting list, we would not expect more than a few cancellations at this late date. (The Retrieving Group, in particular, already has a long waiting list.) While we don’t like turning anyone away, it is very important, especially in this time of Covid-19, to keep the groups small. You will not be billed for any session for which you are waitlisted.
Offered Two Days Saturday October 24th and Sunday October 25th, 2020 10 am – 3 pm Dickerson, MD
These days offered an introduction to field work for all sporting dogs. Handlers and dogs were dispersed among multiple fields and simultaneous activities. There was no live fire and no shot birds. Some people came for both days and some just for one or the other. We had 18 dogs signed up for Saturday and 19 for Sunday, including one or more of the following breeds: Barbet, Clumber Spaniel, English Setter, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Many were beginners.
Photos are below. (Special thanks to Ken Harringer for some really good ones!) Click on any photo to expand and click through the gallery.
The weather cooperated nicely for Saturday, but Sunday was cooler with some light rain. Still, we had two relaxed and fun days to work on some basic training, and we hope that everyone went home with happy and tired dogs, and having a better idea of what they need to focus on over the winter months.
The trainers for the weekend were: Ken Harringer, Betsy Harringer, Steve Roth, Brian Schmidt, and Steve Surprenant. Topics included: introducing dogs to bird scent, basic pointing and flushing techniques, obedience commands essential to field work, e-collar conditioning, and yard work with placeboards.
Since this occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, activities were entirely outdoors and safety protocols including social distancing and masks were required.
Saturday, July 25th 2020 and Sunday, July 26th 2020
10:00 am – 3:00 pm each day Dickerson, MD Hosted by Alex and Steve Roth
This event was for MSDA club members, their families, and their guests. Dogs, too, of course! MSDA provided the meats for grilling and attendees brought side dishes and desserts to share. Split between two days, the event had fewer attendees each day and this allowed for social distancing. As always, the pool was a hit, and there was even a bit of field training in the shade.
Here are pictures from both days. Click on any photo to enlarge.
MSDA’s annual pool party is limited to members and their family and guests. Not an MSDA member? Learn more about us, how to join the club, and sign up for our e-mail list.
MSDA holds two of the largest sporting group conformation shows in the U.S. and, along with those, three days of all-breed obedience and rally trials, breed specialties, bird instinct clinics, and other activities. In 2020, the dates and major activities for MSDA’s events at the Howard County Fairgrounds (just south of I-70) in West Friendship, MD were February 28th – March 1st.
THANK-YOU participants, judges, stewards, trophy sponsors and all volunteers!
MSDA Membership Meeting, dinner, and seminar on Saturday evening.
Also on the schedule were sweepstakes, owner-handled, junior handler, and best bred-by-exhibitor competitions. There was puppy and veteran sweepstakes, a dog show tour and new exhibitor briefing, and morning coffee & doughnuts.
Official results are available at the AKC website:
The following clubs supported entries at the shows: Capital City Cocker Club, Capital Region Flat-Coated Retriever Club, English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, Irish Setter Club of Greater Richmond, Irish Water Spaniel Club of America, Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac, Lower Susquehanna Irish Setter Club, Maryland Brittany Club, Mid Atlantic Field Spaniel Club, National Capital English Setter Club, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club – USA, Potomac Valley Golden Retriever Club, Susquehanna Valley English Springer Spaniel Club, Sussex Spaniel Club of America, Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, and Wilderness Pointer Club.
A big THANK-YOU to all who answered the call to work as volunteers and to those who sponsored trophies for our 2020 Spring Event!
The Sharp Shop,
Salty Dog & Sweet P’s Swag,
MFD/Digi-Art Photography and Portraits,
Sunflower Trading Company,
K-9 Fun-Fit, LLC.
More Information: Once again, the chair of this event was Richard Jackson. Please contact him directly with any questions or comments.
We also invite you to learn more about us, and sign up for our e-mail list to be updated (mostly via a monthly newsletter) on all club activities:
MSDA held six Bird Instinct Clinics during the 2020 MSDA Spring Event at the Howard County Fairgrounds. For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this was a great way to get started.
Instinct Clinic is a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity. The session includes a brief introductory discussion followed by individual work with each dog and handler. Trainers get the dogs excited about the birds, and then the dogs are able to scent a bird and find a bird, triggering their basic hunting instincts. There is no gunfire and flushed birds fly away. Clinics are run by AKC hunt test judges and experienced handlers for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. There is lots of fun, and great information, too!
Instinct Clinic also is a wonderful stepping stone for you and your dog to
get involved with training for your parent club’s WD or WC program or the
AKC Hunt Test programs, or to simply see how much fun you can have when
your dog gets turned on to birds!!
There were a total of six identical clinics, at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm on Friday 2/28, Saturday 2/29, and Sunday 3/1 and in 2020 they were fully booked. All potential bird dogs are welcome at our Instinct Clinics. We had one or more of the following breeds participating: Barbet, Clumber Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, French Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Pointer, Saint Usuge Spaniel, Spinone Italiano, Standard Poodle, Vizsla, Weimaraner and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.