September 2020 Spaniel Hunting Tests and AKC Spaniel Hunting Test Seminar

Saturday, September 12th & Sunday, September 13th, 2020
Rebel Ridge Farms
295 Woods Road, Elkton, Maryland 21921

First, all the text below describes what we are planning. These days, of course, it’s hard to know exactly what will be feasible. If changes need to be made, we will be sure to post those here and to notify those who have already registered. And, full refunds are always available at least until registration deadlines. Now, on to the fun stuff…

It’s MSDA’s Fall Fieldapalooza! Including:

  • Two days of AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests (for all eligible flushing breeds)
  • AKC Spaniel Hunting Test Seminar for judges, prospective judges, and handlers
  • Working Dog testing for spaniel breeds (subject to parent club approval)
  • Instinct Clinics for all sporting dogs
  • AKC Canine Good Citizen CGC and CGCA testing for all breeds

Look who’s coming! One or more representatives of the following breeds have already registered for the Fall Fieldapalooza: English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Standard Poodle, Sussex Spaniel, and Welsh Springer Spaniel.

Ready to sign up? Use our online entry. Or, click on a topic or scroll down for much more information, including the official Hunt Test Premium List and mail-in entry forms.

Online Entry for All Events * AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests * Hunt Test Premium List and Mail-In Entry Forms * AKC Junior Handler Program * AKC Spaniel Hunting Test Seminar * Working Dog Tests * Instinct Clinics * CGC Testing * Lunches * Wine & Cheese Reception * Dinner * Deadlines & How to Sign Up & Pay * Weather * Blaze Orange Required * Severe Correction/Training * Spectators & Volunteers Welcome * Location * Where to Stay * Covid-19 WarningQuestions?

AKC SPANIEL HUNTING TESTS: There will be two days, and actually three separate events, of hunt tests. Please read the descriptions below. Very important: you can only enter a dog in ONE test on Saturday, not both.

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.

Tests will be conducted according to the American Kennel Club’s Regulations for AKC Hunting Tests for Spaniels available at https://images.akc.org/pdf/rulebooks/RHTSPN.pdf.

Saturday, September 12th – Hunt Test A: This hunt test is being held in conjunction with an AKC Spaniel Hunting Test Seminar and, although the official starting time is 8 am, actual judging in the field is expected to begin later, after completion of the classroom portion of the seminar. The test will continue until completion, probably 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.

Junior, Senior, and Master Hunter stakes will be available. Chukars will be used for all levels. The entry limit for this test is 25 dogs in total, and there will be a single judging panel. The judges are Tom Meyer and Jim Zimmerman. Seminar attendees may also enter one or more dogs in this hunt test, but are encouraged to sign up early due to the low entry limit. Handlers are also welcome to enter this hunt test without also signing up for the seminar, but please be aware of what is different about this test: Tom Meyer, who is presenting the seminar, will be discussing key points of judging the dogs as the test proceeds. This is something new that the AKC is trying — we hope that it will be especially informative to seminar participants, but it is definitely going to slow down the testing process a bit. To help move things along, this hunt test has a smaller entry limit and also will make use of callbacks, so if a dog does not qualify on one portion of the test, it will not continue with subsequent parts of the test.

The AKC Event # for this test is 20207441907. The hunt test fee is $65 per dog ($30 for Junior Handlers (under age 18)). This fee does not include lunch. 

CAVEAT: Planning for this seminar and test was undertaken while COVID-19 impacted approvals for AKC events. At this time, the AKC has furloughed many employees and is not willing to commit to approving the seminar. If the seminar does not happen, Hunt Test A will still be held, but will start promptly at 8 am and be run the same as Hunt Test B. It’s also likely that Tom Meyer will be replaced with a different judge.

Saturday, September 12th – Hunt Test B: This will be the usual MSDA Saturday hunt test. Junior, Senior, and Master Hunter stakes will be available. Chukars will be used for all levels.

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. The entry limit for this test is 30 dogs in total, and there will be a single judging panel. The judges are John Dunn and Jeffrey Thomas. For this event 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. 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 AKC Event # for this test is 20207441909. The hunt test fee is $65 per dog ($30 for Junior Handlers). This fee does not include lunch.

Sunday, September 13th – Hunt Test C: This will be the usual MSDA Sunday hunt test. Junior, Senior, and Master Hunter stakes will be available. Chukars will be used for all levels.

Judging begins promptly at 8 am and continues until completion, probably 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. The entry limit for this test is 55 dogs in total, and there will be two judging panels. Dogs will be assigned randomly to one panel or the other, subject to adjustments required to balance the groups and allow the tests to run smoothly. This hunt test will make use of callbacks, so if a dog does not qualify on one portion of the test, it will not continue with subsequent parts of the test.

The AKC Event # for this test is 20207441908. The hunt test fee is $65 per dog; $30 for Junior Handlers (under age 18). This fee does not include lunch.

If you have any questions about how the hunt tests are conducted or would like to volunteer to help, please contact Steve Roth.

Hunt test entries, including payment, must be received by the Secretary no later than 8 pm (Eastern) on Saturday 9/5. Running orders will be assigned using a random drawing the evening of 9/6, and entrants will be notified via email the following day. For registration questions, to change/cancel your entry or request a refund, contact the Secretary, Pamela DeSmidt.

If your dog is working toward a Spaniel Hunting Test Advanced title, please bring your Hunt Test Advanced Title Application form with you. The Event Secretary must verify your dog’s score and sign the form on the day of the test.

Use MSDA’s online entry form for hunt tests, judging seminar, working dog tests, and instinct clinics. Or download a PDF file of the official hunt test Premium List and printable Entry Forms.

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 is pleased to announce that the entry fee for Junior Handlers at the September 2020 AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests is reduced from $65 to just $30. 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, send in the AKC form and meanwhile write “applied for” in the space on the MSDA hunting test entry.)

AKC SPANIEL HUNTING TEST SEMINAR: This seminar, on Saturday September 12th, is designed to review and explain the regulations and guidelines for the AKC Spaniel Hunting Test program. Seminar participants will improve their understanding of the performance requirements and standards as well as additional AKC policies.

The program will begin promptly at 8 am with a classroom presentation and group discussion at (though not necessarily inside) the clubhouse. The seminar continues in the field with a quick summary of how hunt tests are set up and then discussion of key points of judging dogs in an actual hunt test (Saturday’s Hunt Test A). Seminar attendees should expect to do a lot of walking, since they will be following the action in the field and must observe all elements of all three levels (Junior, Senior, Master) to receive credit. Seminar attendees will all receive judging books so that they make notes of each dog’s performance, practice judge, and note the score of the seminar judge. 

All AKC judges are required to attend one of these seminars every five years to maintain active status. Attendance at the seminar also is recommended for newcomers to hunt testing and anyone interested in learning more about the program and how dogs are scored. Seminar attendees may enter one or more dogs in Saturday’s Hunt Test A, but are advised to sign up early, since there is an entry limit of 25 dogs for that hunt test.

The seminar fee is $25 if the registrant also enters a dog in Saturday’s Hunt Test A. The seminar fee is $40 if the registrant does not also enter a dog in Saturday’s Hunt Test A. Registration fees do not include lunch. 

CAVEAT: Planning for this seminar and test was undertaken while COVID-19 impacted approvals for AKC events. At this time, the AKC has furloughed many employees and is not willing to commit to approving the seminar. If the seminar does not happen, registrants who have prepaid will be provided refunds for the seminar and may also withdraw from, and receive refunds for, the associated hunt test. (Saturday’s Hunt Test A.)

If you have any questions about the seminar, please contact Steve Surprenant. Use MSDA’s online entry form for hunt tests, judging seminar, working dog tests, and instinct clinics.

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) in association with our Hunting Test on Sunday, September 13th (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.

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 Clumber Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Field Spaniels, Sussex Spaniels, and Welsh Springer Spaniels. We recommend signing up early to be sure that we have time to get approval for your breed. Other breeds 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.

There is an entry limit of 10 dogs being judged only for WD. (Dogs signed up for both JH or SH and WD/WDX do not count toward the limit.) Dogs entered in both the AKC Hunting Test and the WD test must be ready to start at 8 am on Sunday. Dogs entered only in the WD Test will be run later in the morning, after the upland portion of the hunt tests. WD/WDX judges will be Marybeth Piedrafite Clark and Deborah Kirk.

The fee for WD/WDX testing is $15 if the dog is also entered in Junior or Senior Hunter tests on Sunday. Otherwise, the fee is $35.

If you have any questions about how the WD/WDX tests are conducted or whether your dog is ready for this activity, please contact Steve Roth. Use MSDA’s online entry form for hunt tests, judging seminar, working dog tests, and instinct clinics.

INSTINCT CLINICS have been a very popular activity at our annual Spring Event in Howard County, so we are offering something similar at this year’s Hunt Test Weekend. There will be scheduled time slots available between 10 am and 4 pm on both Saturday September 12th and Sunday September 13th. (You will select your time slot when you register.) For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this is a great way to get started. It is set up as a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity.

These one-on-one sessions will include a brief introductory chat followed by 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. Flushed birds fly away and there is no gunfire at these sessions. (However, there will be live fire, at a distance, on other parts of the property.) Instinct Clinics are run by experienced handlers, trainers, and AKC hunt test judges for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds. Sessions will be coordinated by Sally Eck, who leads the Pointing Breeds group at MSDA’s annual Field Day and was one of the trainers at the 2020 Spring Event Instinct Clinics. The number of registrations will be limited to four per hour, so each dog gets plenty of attention. This 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!

Since there will be WD/WDX testing and flushing hunt tests occurring on the same property, participants are encouraged to watch those and even volunteer to help. Though much of the weekend focuses on activities for flushing breeds, all potentially “birdy” dogs and breeds are welcome at Instinct Clinics. Your dog only needs a collar and leash (not just a slip lead) . We’ll provide a very long lead and all other supplies, including birds. Dogs are never off-leash during these sessions.

The Instinct Clinic fee is $20 per dog. Note that, because of AKC rules about “training on the grounds”, dogs may not be registered for both Instinct Clinic and either WD/WDX or a hunt test on the same day. Instinct Clinic is an introductory activity for dogs not familiar with birds; it is not to be used as a “warm-up”. Also, bitches in season are not allowed on the property.

If you have any questions about the Instinct Clinics, please contact Sally Eck. Use MSDA’s online entry form for hunt tests, judging seminar, working dog tests, and instinct clinics.

CANINE GOOD CITIZEN TESTING also will be offered on Saturday September 12th starting at 10 am, with a very flexible schedule. The fee is $10 (cash, or check to “MSDA”), payable at the time of the test. All dog breeds are welcome, and you don’t sign up in advance for this. Both CGC and Community Canine (also known as CGC-Advanced) will be available. Learn more about AKC’s CGC titling at https://www.akc.org/products-services/training-programs/canine-good-citizen/ .

LUNCH: Test, seminar, and instinct clinic fees do not include lunch. MSDA volunteers will be setting out a buffet lunch at the clubhouse on both Saturday and Sunday. This year, at least, it may be a served buffet rather than one where you help yourself. Advance reservations for this lunch are $8 per person per day. (Note that hunt test fees are lower this year since lunch is not included.) Alternatively, all attendees are welcome to bring their own lunches to eat at the clubhouse or to picnic on the grounds. Please remember, however, that we are guests on this very beautiful private property, so we need to be respectful and be sure to clean up after ourselves if we are to be invited back.

WINE & CHEESE RECEPTION: A wine and cheese reception is planned immediately follow the conclusion of hunt testing on Saturday, during the time the judges are finalizing their scores and marking the official results.  All handlers and guests are welcome.

DINNER Saturday, September 12th: A group usually gathers informally on Saturday evening around 6 pm for dinner (with separate checks) at Baker’s Restaurant (1075 Augustine Herman Hwy, Elkton, MD 21921). Baker’s is less than a 10-minute drive from Rebel Ridge.

DEADLINES AND HOW TO SIGN UP AND PAY: MSDA offers online entry on this website for all activities: after you submit the registration form you will receive a unique link to securely make your payment using a credit card (via Square). There is no additional fee for registering or paying online. You also will have the option of mailing a check. For Hunt Test entries (only), you may enter either online or by mailing in the paper entry forms. Paper entries must be accompanied by a check. Entries are not complete until payment has been received.

  • Hunt test entries are $65 each ($30 for Junior Handlers – those under age 18). Use MSDA’s online entry form and pay securely online with a credit card or mail a check. Or, download the official Premium list and paper entry forms to complete and send by mail. Hunt test entries, including payment, must be received by the Secretary no later than 8 pm (Eastern) on Saturday 9/5. However, entries will close earlier if the entry limit for a particular test is reached. Running orders will be assigned using a random drawing starting at 8 pm (Eastern) on Sunday 9/6, and entrants will be notified via email the following day.
  • Seminar registrations are $25 each if the attendee also enters a dog in Saturday’s Hunt Test A. Entries are $40 per person if a dog is not entered in Saturday’s Hunt Test A. Seminar entries are via MSDA’s online entry form only. You then may pay securely online with a credit card, or mail a check. Seminar entries, including payment, must be received by the Secretary no later than 8 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday 9/8. (Note that hunt test entries are due sooner.)
  • Working dog entries are $15 each if the dog is also entered in Sunday’s Junior or Senior hunt test; $35 each if the dog is not entered in Sunday’s Junior or Senior hunt test. WD/WDX entries are via MSDA’s online entry form only. You then may pay securely online with a credit card, or mail a check. WD/WDX entries, including payment, must be received by the Secretary no later than 8 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday 9/8. (Note that hunt test entries are due sooner.)
  • Instinct Clinic entries are $20 each. Instinct Clinic entries are via MSDA’s online entry form only. You may pay securely online with a credit card, or mail a check. Instinct Clinic entries, including payment, must be received by the Secretary no later than 8 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday 9/8.
  • Lunch reservations are $8 per person per day, to be included with your other registration payments. Lunch reservations, including payment, are due with your other entries.
  • Until the relevant registration deadline, any entry may be withdrawn for any reason and a full refund will be given.
  • After the relevant registration deadline, refunds will be provided only if the dog is sick or injured or for bitches in season. This year, refunds also will be provided if the handler is ill. (An appropriate medical certification may be required for any refund.) To be eligible for a refund, the Secretary should be notified of the withdrawal by 8 am on the test, seminar, or clinic day.

WEATHER: Hunting tests and related activities go on rain or shine. The average early morning low temperature at Elkton in mid-September is below 60(F); the average late afternoon high is in the upper 70s. On a sunny day it can feel quite a bit warmer. MSDA provides chilled water as well as some sports drinks at the fields. On particularly hot days, we may also have chilled wet towels to keep you cool, and we may require you to show the marshal that you are carrying water for your dog before you enter the field. The ponds, when not being used for testing, can be used to cool your dog and are always available in an emergency.

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, or are participating only in Instinct Clinics and CGC testing, 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 limited number of plain blaze orange t-shirts will be available for sale on site for $5.00 each.

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.

SPECTATORS AND VOLUNTEERS ARE WELCOME. If you’re curious about flushing tests, want to learn more about field work or flushing breeds, or just would enjoy a day outside with a lot of bird-crazy dogs, please join us. We start promptly at 8 am and finish before 4 pm. There are plenty of friendly owners, handlers, and spectators and, if you want to get a closer view, you can walk alongside the field or, even better, we are always looking for volunteers to help with “shagging” and “marshaling”*. To volunteer, please contact Steve Roth. Note that to walk in or along the testing field you must wear blaze orange. Well-behaved dogs are welcome as spectators, but may not enter the testing fields.

*The shagger follows immediately behind the handler and judges down the middle of the field with a backpack-like basket into which the shot birds are placed. Field marshals walk down the middle or side of the field and report back to the Head Marshal by radio to let them know when each dog is finished.

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. Most GPS will find it 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 September date.

WHERE TO STAY: 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.

  • Self-Described as “Pet Friendly”:
    • Best Western: 39 Elwoods Rd North East, MD Ph: 410-287-5450. $117 per night
    • Days Inn by Wyndham: 311 Belle Hill Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-392-5010. $75 per night
    • La Quinta Inn by Wyndham: 304 Belle Hill Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-620-9494. $110 per night
    • Motel 6: 223 Belle Hill Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-392-5020. $80 per night
  • “Pet Friendly”, but policy says small dogs only:
    • Comfort Inn and Suites: 1 Center Dr North East, MD Ph: 410-287-7100. $121 per night
    • Elk Forge B&B Inn: 807 Elk Mills Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-392-9007. $260 per night
    • Hampton Inn: 117 Sandhill Dr Middletown, DE Ph: 302-378-5656. $228 per night
  • Policy says service animals only:
    • Hampton Inn: 2 Warner Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-398-7777. $160 per night
    • Holiday Inn Express & Suites: 1570 Elkton Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 443-350-9154. $137 per night
    • Holiday Inn Express & Suites: 315 Auto Park Dr Middletown, DE Ph: 302-696-2272. $208 per night
    • Holiday Inn Express & Suites: 101 Hotel Plaza North East, MD Ph: 410-287-0008. $138 per night

Those who travel with an RV or camper are directed to Lums Pond State Park in Bear DE, about a 10-minute drive from Rebel Ridge Farms. Rebel Ridge is private property and does not provide overnight RV parking or camping.

Important notes: Rates were checked in Spring 2020 for one person for one night. Obviously, a lot may have changed since then, so this is only a general guide. “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. MSDA does not endorse or recommend any hotels or restaurants. The accuracy and currency of information listed here is not guaranteed. Note, however, that our experience in this area especially with respect to hotels is that “you get what you pay for”, i.e., there may be a reason that the cheapest hotels on the list are in that position.

COVID-19 WARNING: An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By attending this MSDA event you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. MSDA will be using enhanced health and safety measures for all participants and volunteers. These will be guided by rules and recommendations provided by the State of Maryland, the county, CDC, and the AKC. Details will be decided closer to the date of the event, but this may include social distancing and wearing masks. If you are not willing to comply with these measures, do not sign up. Let’s keep each other healthy!

QUESTIONS? Please feel free to ask!

The Fall Fieldapalooza Event Committee is: (* denotes AKC hunt test committee members)