Fall 2022 Hunt Test Weekend

Saturday, September 17th & Sunday September 18th
9 am – 3 pm
Rebel Ridge Farms
295 Woods Road, Elkton, MD 21921

Something for everyone, including:

Although the mock hunt tests start at 9 am, mock test and Open House attendees may arrive as early as 8 am (and spaniel hunt testers likely will be arriving even earlier). To be sure the lunch buffet is ready by 11:30, please arrive and drop off your potluck dish before then. Our use of the property ends at 4 pm.

The rest of this web page is about the Pointing and Retrieving Mock Hunt Tests and the Open House, all on Saturday. Follow the links for information about the Spaniel Hunting Tests and WD Tests, and also for where to stay & eat nearby. Please do not call Rebel Ridge for information and recommendations!

MSDA’s Fall Hunt Test Weekend has traditionally been focused on flushing breeds. Last year, we added an “open house” for members and prospective members. This year, we are expanding further to provide mock junior AKC hunt tests for pointing and retrieving breeds. If you have done some hunt training, including perhaps at MSDA’s Field Day, and are either curious about pointing or retrieving hunt testing, are getting ready for your first hunt test, or just need a bit of extra practice (and some feedback), this is a great opportunity for you. The mock tests will be conducted similar to actual junior hunt tests but, unlike a “real” test:

  • No pressure! You’re just there to have fun and gain some experience. There’s no passing or failing, qualifying or not qualifying, at stake.
  • If you’re new to this, knowledgeable volunteers will explain how the tests work and what is expected of you and your dog. When these mock tests differ from the real thing, this will be noted (e.g., in a real test, there would be at least two judges; on this day there may only be one.)
  • Callbacks will not be used: dogs will not be excused early for failing to achieve a passing score on any part of the test.
  • A very experienced AKC hunt test judge or hunt tester will provide you with your score sheet as well as some written notes and also verbal feedback about where improvements are needed.
  • There will be time specifically allocated for Questions & Answers.
  • Your dog does not need to be registered, or registerable, with the AKC to participate.
  • No ribbons or other prizes will be provided, and no results will be posted to the AKC or anywhere else.
  • The entry fee will be less than an actual hunt test.

Please note that, just like the real thing, the mock hunt tests will go on rain or shine. Also, because there will be a licensed AKC Spaniel Hunting Test on the same property, bitches in season will not be allowed to attend.

Updated 7/5 … Look who’s coming! So far, we have one or more of the following breeds signed up for the mock hunt tests: Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Vizsla, and Weimaraner. There are still plenty of spaces available for both pointing and retrieving mock hunt tests, though the morning pointing session is already half-filled.

Read on for much more information about both the Pointing and Retrieving Mock Junior Hunt Tests, as well as Saturday’s Open House and potluck lunch. An entry/registration form is at the very bottom of this page.

MOCK POINTING JUNIOR HUNT TEST:

  • The Mock Pointing Test will consist of two dogs running in a brace on a single course, with no bird field, for up to 30 minutes.
  • This will be a walking test: no horses or ATV.
  • If the weather is particularly warm, be sure to bring water into the field for your dog. You may be required to show your water bottle before proceeding with the test.
  • Dogs at this mock test may drag a check cord or wear an e-collar or tracking collar.
  • Testing will start at 9 am and will finish by 4 pm. When signing up, entrants will select whether to run in the morning or afternoon session; the hunt test chair will assign individual dogs to braces within the session. Tentative running orders and approximate starting times for each brace, along with other useful information, will be emailed to all entrants on Wednesday, September 14th.
  • Chukars will be used for all Mock Pointing Junior Hunt Testing. We will endeavor to provide each dog the opportunity for two bird contacts.
  • There will be no live gunfire, but a blank pistol or cap gun may be fired when a bird is flushed under appropriate conditions. If your dog is not acclimated to the sound of gunfire, do not sign up for this test! Handlers must be pre-approved by the hunt test chair to handle or fire any gun, even one utilizing only blanks.
  • Since there will be no live gunfire, dogs will not be expected to retrieve shot birds.
  • There will be opportunities for questions, answers, and discussion between each brace and, if time allows, at the end of each session (morning and afternoon).

Entries are limited to 16 dogs, 8 in the morning and 8 in the afternoon. The fee for the mock hunt test is $30 per dog entered. In addition, everyone is asked to bring a generously-sized potluck dish for lunch.

Dogs must be at least six months old to enter an actual licensed hunt test. If your puppy will be a bit younger than that on September 17th, please check with the hunt test chair (Sally Eck via Pointer@mdsportingdog.org) before entering.

Especially if you are not experienced at hunt tests, please download and at least skim the Regulations for AKC Hunting Tests for Pointing Breeds. If you have questions about pointing tests in general, pointing breed training, or about MSDA’s mock hunt test, please contact Sally Eck via Pointer@mdsportingdog.org.

Capacity is limited, so please sign up below. Entries close on Sunday, September 11th or earlier if the mock test fills up.

MOCK RETRIEVING JUNIOR HUNT TEST:

  • The mock retrieving test will consist of two land retrieves and two water retrieves, though not necessarily in that order. Each retrieve is likely to be between 20 and 50 yards in distance.
  • Dogs at this mock test may drag a check cord or wear an e-collar or tracking collar.
  • Testing will start at 9 am and will finish by 4 pm, with a lunch break midday. All entered dogs should be on site and ready to go at the 9:00 am starting time. The retrieving mock hunt test is a single all-day session: dogs will be asked to perform two retrieves before lunch and two after lunch. If time allows, additional retrieving opportunities may be available.
  • Tentative running orders, along with other useful information, will be emailed to all entrants on Wednesday, September 14th.
  • We are expecting to use ducks for all retrieves, but may need to substitute pheasants or chukars in the unlikely event that ducks are not available. Birds will be thrown or launched from a blind. There will be no live flyers.
  • There will be no live gunfire, but blank rounds will be used. If your dog is not acclimated to the sound of gunfire, do not sign up for this test!
  • Some handlers will be asked to help with running of the test, for tasks such as blowing the duck call, launching birds, firing a starter pistol, maintaining the running order, hanging birds to dry, etc. New handlers are strongly encouraged to learn about these and other important tasks and will be paired with experienced volunteers. (However, you must be pre-approved by the hunt test chair to handle or fire any gun, even one utilizing only blanks.)
  • A Q&A session will be held at the end of the day. If time allows, there also will be a group Q&A just before lunch.

Entries are limited to 20 dogs. The fee for the mock hunt test is $30 per dog entered. In addition, everyone is asked to bring a generously-sized potluck dish for lunch.

Dogs must be at least six months old to enter a licensed hunt test. If your puppy will be a bit younger than that on September 17th, please check with the hunt test chair (Dennis Durham via DDurham@mdsportingdog.org) before entering.

Especially if you are not experienced at hunt tests, please download and at least skim the Regulations & Guidelines for AKC Hunting Tests for Retrievers. If you have questions about retrieving tests in general, retriever training, or about MSDA’s mock hunt test, please contact Dennis Durham via DDurham@mdsportingdog.org.

Capacity is limited, so please sign up below. Entries close on Sunday, September 11th or earlier if the mock test fills up. (See refund policy below.)

OPEN HOUSE AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES FOR MSDA MEMBERS AND PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS:

MSDA members and prospective members, their family and guests may bring their dogs for an informal day at Rebel Ridge. Rebel Ridge Farms provides more than 250 acres of fields, ponds, and woods as well as a heated and air-conditioned clubhouse. Even if your dog is not entered in one of the hunt tests, you are welcome to come out to volunteer at one of the activities or to just enjoy the day on this beautiful property. If you are not currently an MSDA member, please learn more about us and consider joining the club.

The price of admission to the Open House is a generously-sized potluck lunch dish contribution. MSDA will provide water and a limited selection of other non-alcoholic drinks.

On the same day at Rebel Ridge, MSDA is holding a Spaniel Hunting Test as well as the Mock Pointing and Retrieving Junior Hunt Tests described on this page. Members and prospective members are encouraged to sign up for a hunt test if your dog is ready, head over to watch some of the action, and/or volunteer to also help at the test or in the clubhouse for at least part of the day.

Attendance at this day is not limited to field-trained dogs. Also, puppies, senior dogs and non-sporting breeds are welcome. Note, however, that there will be gunfire – live and blanks – on the property throughout the day. This may not be the place for a dog that is not comfortable with gunfire, even at a distance.

Whether participating in a hunt test or just enjoying the day, please note that Rebel Ridge is big, but it is not fenced, so please make sure you keep your dog on a leash or otherwise under your control at all times. And, of course, everyone is reminded that they ultimately are responsible for their own dog’s behavior.

We hope that everyone will have a great time, learn something, and make some new friends.

Planning to attend? Please sign up using the form below so we know how many to expect. 

POTLUCK LUNCH:

To participate in the mock pointing hunt test, mock retrieving hunt test, or open house activities, we’re asking you to contribute a generously-sized potluck dish in addition to any mock test entry fees. Please bring enough to serve your own group plus at least an extra 10-12 servings. Potluck dishes, supplemented with purchased items, also will provide the day’s lunch for the handlers signed up for the Spaniel Hunting Tests.

If it can be safely stored and served the next day (Sunday), please consider using a disposable or recyclable container (and we’ll have a limited supply of extra containers); we’ll happily polish off the leftovers at Sunday’s Spaniel Hunting Test. Rebel Ridge has limited refrigeration (about half of a not-too-big refrigerator is usually available to us). We’ll also plug in a power strip with a few outlets.

On the registration form below, we ask you whether you plan to bring a protein/entree, side dish/salad, or a dessert. If you change your mind about what you are bringing or need to cancel, please let us know. We’ll be shopping a day or two before the event to fill out the buffet and to make sure we have enough to serve everyone, including the hunt testers.

Questions? Contact Pamela DeSmidt at FieldDays@mdsportingdog.org.

SIGN UP HERE FOR THESE ACTIVITIES:

(To enter the Spaniel Hunting Tests, go to HuntSecretary.com.)

Registration for this event is online only. After completing the registration form below, when you click “SUBMIT”, you will be directed to PayPal to securely complete an online payment (if you have an amount due). Major credit cards and PayPal are accepted. You do not need to have, or create, a PayPal account to pay online. PayPal does not share your credit card information with MSDA. Once PayPal confirms your payment, they will send you back to this website and automatically email their confirmation (though it may not arrive immediately – PayPal has been a bit slow lately). You also will be sent a brief autoresponder confirmation from the MSDA website. If you don’t receive both of these confirmation emails within a few days (check your spam folder!), please contact Pamela DeSmidt at FieldDays@mdsportingdog.org .

If you need to change or cancel your registration, contact Pamela DeSmidt, at FieldDays@mdsportingdog.org . You may cancel a mock hunt test entry for any reason through Sunday, September 11th and receive a full refund MINUS a service charge of $2 per dog/test. After September 11th, no refunds will be provided, except for bitches who come into season and for waitlisted dogs as described below.

For a bitch in season, you must notify Pamela DeSmidt (in person or via email, voicemail or text message) that you are planning to request a refund no later than 8:00 am on Saturday September 17. A veterinary certificate may be required. If a refund is granted, a service charge of $2 per dog/test will be withheld.

We will try to keep the registration page updated, but, if the mock hunt tests fill up too quickly, you may be placed on a waitlist. You will be notified of this when you receive your detailed confirmation email. If you are waitlisted, you may cancel for any reason as described above. If you remain on a waitlist and do not get a spot by Monday, September 12th (the day after the deadline), you will receive a full refund.

All attendees, including children, will be required to provide a signed MSDA liability release. Many of you have already signed this on your membership form or when attending another MSDA activity, and blanks will be provided when you check in for the day. But remember, you do not need to be a member of MSDA to participate in the Open House or the mock hunt tests!

Owners and handlers are reminded that they are responsible for their own dog’s actions and that good sportsmanship is expected at all times. If dogs (or humans!) exhibit inappropriate behavior or aggression, you will be directed to leave the event immediately and may be excluded from future MSDA activities. Such decisions are made by a hunt test chair or other event committee member.

If you encounter problems registering or need to make changes to a previously-submitted registration, please e-mail Pamela DeSmidt at FieldDays@mdsportingdog.org .

Fall 2022 Spaniel Hunting Tests

Saturday September 17 (AKC Event #2022441909) and
Sunday September 18 (AKC Event #2022441910)
at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton MD
Much more information is below!

ALSO happening this weekend:

Mock AKC Junior Pointing Hunt Test on Saturday, 9/17

Mock AKC Junior Retrieving Hunt Test on Saturday, 9/17

MSDA Open House for Members & Prospective Members on Saturday 9/17

Spaniel Working Dog (WD) Tests on Sunday 9/18.

The rest of this web page is about the Spaniel Hunting Tests and WD Tests, and where to stay & eat nearby. Follow the link to learn more about the Pointing and Retrieving mock hunt tests and the Open House.

MSDA will hold two days — two separate events — of AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton MD. Rebel Ridge provides spacious grounds, ample ponds, and excellent fall cover. (They let the grass grow extra tall just for our hunt test weekend!) Photos from two previous MSDA hunt tests at Rebel Ridge are here (Spring 2022) and here (Fall 2021).

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 is 42 dogs (total) each day. The judges are:

  • Mary Lou Dunn and Jean-Marie Tate (Juniors on Saturday, Seniors and Masters on Sunday), and
  • George Cacchio and Noel Cacchio (Seniors and Masters on Saturday, Juniors on 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.

Lunch is included in the spaniel hunting test entry fee and will be provided each day at the clubhouse. If you read about the other MSDA activities going on Saturday at Rebel Ridge, you will see references to bringing a potluck dish. Spaniel hunt test entrants do not need to contribute a dish for lunch.

We will not be offering coffee, tea or similar in the morning. Please allow time to stop at the Dunkin’, McDonalds, Royal Farms, Starbucks or other caffeine provider, of which there are many located near the intersection of Rte 40 (Pulaski Hwy) & Rte 213 (Augustine Herman Hwy) in Elkton, about five minutes from Rebel Ridge Farms.

Information about some area hotels and  restaurants is provided below.

Official Premium information and online entry is via HuntSecretary.com.

7/5 update… Look who’s coming! So far, we have one or more of the following breeds entered: Boykin Spaniel, Clumber Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever and Poodle (Standard).

For all hunt tests, entries close at 11:59 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday September 6th, or when entry limits are reached, whichever occurs earlier. Entries will be drawn, and running orders established, by Hunt Secretary on September 7. The running order will be electronically randomized but may be adjusted to accommodate handlers running multiple dogs.

Scratches prior to the closing date will be refunded by Hunt Secretary. After the closing date, entry fees will be refunded by MSDA for a bitch withdrawn because of coming in season or for a dog withdrawn because of an injury or illness or for a dog that dies. A veterinary certificate is required for all refunds, and a $5 service fee per entry will be withheld from all refunds requested after the deadline. Refund requests and documents must be presented prior to the test. There will be no refunds for “no shows”.

If a waitlist is necessary and utilized, waitlisted dogs will be offered a position based on their order on the waitlist, irrespective of level. (So, for example, a Junior Hunter test entry may be replaced by an entry at the Master Hunter stakes.)

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.

If you have any questions about how the hunt tests are conducted or would like to volunteer to help, please contact the Event Chair, Steve Roth (huntingchair@mdsportingdog.org).

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. 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, if your dog does not qualify on one portion of the test, they will not be called back to continue that day.

AKC JUNIOR HANDLER PROGRAM: Anyone up to the age of 18 is eligible to participate as a Junior Handler in hunting tests and other AKC performance events. MSDA welcomes Junior Handlers and offers a reduced entry fee of $40 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. The regular $75 entry fee must be paid when entering the test but, on test day, a Junior Handler should notify the Hunt Test Chair (Steve Roth) and a rebate on the entry fee(s) will be provided.

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 September 19th 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.

Approval to hold these tests must be obtained separately from each breed club. This year, so far we have approval for: Clumber Spaniels, English Cocker Spaniels, and English Springer Spaniels, with more on the way. If you have a breed not listed here, be sure to contact Pamela DeSmidt via FieldDays@mdsportingdog.org as soon as possible so that we can apply for approval. 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 no pre-registration for the WD tests. Just sign up and pay for WD testing at Rebel Ridge on Sunday, 9/18. If you want your dog to be judged for WD simultaneously with your Junior or Senior Hunter test, you must sign up and provide payment (cash or check) by 8 am that day. If you want to do a standalone WD test, you must register and pay no later than 10 am on Sunday 9/18. Capacity for standalone tests is limited to 10 dogs. Hunt Test Weekend Committee Member Pamela DeSmidt will be handling WD registration.

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 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 get field assignments for the day and ask questions.

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, 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 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 at the clubhouse for $5.00 each.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

  • Hunt tests go on rain or shine! If the weather is particularly warm, be sure to bring water into the field for your dog. The marshal may require you to show your water bottle before proceeding with the test.
  • 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 remove it from the property. Do not leave poop bags in the field or put them in the trash cans.

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. Rebel Ridge does not permit overnight RV parking or camping. Instead, check the Lums Pond RV/camping site, about 10 minutes away.

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”:
    • Days Inn by Wyndham: 311 Belle Hill Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-392-5010. This hotel showed no availability for these dates as of early June, but has rates of $115/night for many earlier dates.
    • Motel 6: 223 Belle Hill Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-392-5020. $70 per night
    • Sutton Inn: 405 E. Pulaski Hwy Elkton MD Ph: 410-398-3830 $119 per night
  • “Pet Friendly”, but policy says only small dogs allowed in rooms:
    • Hampton Inn: 117 Sandhill Dr Middletown, DE Ph: 302-378-5656. $256 per night.
  • Policy says no pets in rooms or service animals only:
    • Hampton Inn: 2 Warner Rd Elkton, MD Ph: 410-398-7777. $160 per night

Important notes:
In early June 2022, we checked rates for a room for one person, assuming a two-night cancellable stay 9/16-9/18. Rates do not include any special discounts, taxes or pet fees. Please use this as a general guide only: rates 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 dinner while you’re in the area, local restaurants include the following.

  • Baker’s Restaurant: 1075 Augustine Herman Hwy Elkton, MD 21921. 410-398-2435 Known locally for: American/comfort food. Just five minutes from Rebel Ridge, 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
  • Olive Garden Restaurant 304 E. Pulaski Hwy Elkton, MD 21921. 410-392-8701 Italian franchise
  • Schaefer’s Canal House: 208 Bank Street Chesapeake City, MD 21915. 410-885-7200 Known locally for: Upscale (!) seafood & American
  • Tender Bones Rib Shack: 2504 A Red Lion Rd, Bear, DE 19701. 302-832-7427 Known locally for: Ribs, cheesesteak & more
  • Woody’s Crab House: 29 S Main St North East, MD 21901. 410-287-3541 Known locally for: Seafood, especially crabs.
  • Just looking for fast food? There are a LOT of options on Rte 40 near the intersection with Rte 213, Augustine Herman Hwy.

If you have any questions about how the hunt tests are conducted or would like to volunteer to help, please contact the Event Chair, Steve Roth (huntingchair@mdsportingdog.org).

Training Days for Flushing Dogs

MSDA is holding Training Days for flushing dogs. Sessions are primarily on Fridays, approximately monthly. The typical day goes from 8:30 am to 3:30 or 4 pm, but times may vary. The per-day fee is $20 per dog for MSDA members and $25 per dog for non-members. Birds are extra. Time with a professional trainer may be available for an additional fee. Advance online registration and payment is required for each session.

So far in 2022, there have been four sessions, in March, April, May and June. We’re taking a break to avoid the summer heat, but we are planning on resuming Friday, September 9 (the week before MSDA’s Fall 2022 Hunt Test Weekend), at a location yet to be determined. Please direct questions to the Event Chair, Steve Surprenant, via Surprenant@mdsportingdog.org.

The first Training Day of the season was March 18 and some photos, taken by Lori Taylor, are shown below. Click on any photo to enlarge it and move through the gallery.

The second Training Day of 2022 was April 29. More of Lori Taylor’s photos are shown below. Click on any photo to enlarge it and move through the gallery.

Much more information about these Training Days is below. If you would like to be notified when dates are selected and when registrations will open and close for each training day, just fill out this form.


    I'm potentially interested in the MSDA Training Days for Flushing Dogs. Please keep me informed.



    If you're not already on our general mailing list, we'll add you to that as well. Our monthly newsletters include general updates on the Training Days as well as information about other club activities and news. You may unsubscribe at any time.
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    Overview:

    The objective of these Training Days is to prepare dogs to enter and successfully pass an AKC Spaniel Hunt Test, or for you to just enjoy time in the field with your dog. The plan is to offer fun, constructive upland/flushing training with live birds without a lot of down time, along with an opportunity to continue old friendships, make new friends, and get more involved with MSDA’s activities.

    Each Training Day will allow training at four levels (Newbie, Junior, Senior and Master). There will be one or more judges available in the field, but there will be no scoring. Exercises available will include general advice, land quartering/ flushing/ retrieving, hunt dead, water retrieves and a water blind. Live and/or thawed birds (pigeons, chukar, or pheasant) will be available for advance purchase.

    Each training day is expected to accommodate 16-18 dogs, divided into two groups. If time allows, we will train on land and water. There will be a mix of dogs and handlers (Newbies, Junior, Senior and Master) in each group. Handlers may only train with one group on a given day. We may have to adjust our group format depending upon the number of handlers, dogs, and abilities.  People with two or more dogs may be required to work in the field first before running their dogs in each setup.

    • Junior dogs may try hunt dead.
    • On water, retrieve distances from the starting line will be shortened as appropriate for Junior and Senior dogs.
    • Senior dogs may attempt a water blind.
    • Master level hunt dead, water retrieves and water blinds can be set up to be more difficult than one would expect in a spaniel hunting test.

    Additionally, registrants for Training Day may have an option to train with Trish Jackson, a professional spaniel/upland trainer. If you choose this option, you will spend the day in the training group led by Trish where you will not only get a significant amount of one-on-one time with her, you will also be able to listen in as she works with other dogs and handlers, and watch occasional demonstrations with Trish and her cockers. The fee for this is an additional $25. If Trish is available for a particular date, there will be an option to sign up for this via the registration form. However, the actual payment for working with Trish Jackson will be made directly to her at the Training Day. Trish is an internationally-recognized training professional. She has trained field champions and master hunters over the years and has several dogs in the ASC Field Hall of Fame. She is an active breeder, avid hunter, highly-requested hunting guide, and a firm believer in field obedience.

    Although we will take a midday break for lunch, food will not be provided. Please bring your own lunch, snacks, water and other refreshments.

    Dates:

    There will be six to eight Training Days during the year, no more than once a month on average. Due to potential heat and bird availability issues, we will most likely avoid training in late July and August; for cold weather reasons, we may avoid January and February. In general, we will try to schedule dates to avoid major holidays and conflicts with local flushing dog events as well as other MSDA activities.

    Most Training Days for Flushing Dogs will be held on Fridays. Friday was chosen so we would have less competition for property and birds with other club training days that occur on a weekend and to avoid creating conflicts with AKC Spaniel Hunt Tests that typically occur on weekends. We know Fridays may be challenging for some people that work, but we will aim to select dates several months in advance so people can plan ahead. The training calendar be a little fluid – e.g., we may initially select McKee-Beshers WMA as a training spot and later hear that a field trail will be held on the same date, so we may change our training date and/or location.

    So far in 2022, there have been Training Days on Friday March 18 and on Friday April 29, both at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD, and on Friday, May 20th and Friday, June 17th at Mount Ararat Farm in Fort Deposit, MD.

    MSDA Upcoming Field Activities Dates:

    • There will be no Training Days scheduled during July and August, to avoid the hot weather.
    • Friday, September 9 (the week before MSDA’s Fall 2022 Hunt Test Weekend). Training Day for Flushing Dogs, at a location yet to be determined
    • Saturday & Sunday, September 17-18. Two day – two events – of Spaniel Hunting Tests at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD. All flushing breeds are welcome to enter.

    Locations:

    The goal is to train at different locations throughout the year, but that’s not to say that we won’t repeat locations in any given year. The “default” training location is Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. Unless we have another property lined up, the training will occur there. This allows us to have a site where we know we can train each time. Other potential locations include Shady Grove in Remington, Virginia, Rebel Ridge Farms, the C&D Canal dog training area in Delaware, McKee-Beshers WMA, Indian Springs WMA, Port Deposit and a few others.

    Fees and Registration:

    The per-day fees are $20 per dog for MSDA members and $25 per dog for non-members. If you are not sure if you are currently a club member, or would like to join MSDA, contact the club secretary, Pamela DeSmidt, at Secretary@mdsportingdog.org. Bird fees will be set based on current costs; these can vary considerably during the year. The number of birds per dog may be limited for each session. If you are unsure about whether to order birds, or how many to order, please contact the Training Days committee chair, Steve Surprenant, at Surprenant@mdsportingdog.org before you register.

    Registration and payment for all sessions will be online only and will be accepted in the order in which they are received. No email or phone entries will be accepted. Registration is not complete until payment is received and you have received your detailed confirmation email; after payment is made, there will be no refunds unless you are placed on a waitlist.

    We are using PayPal to process the online payments. Major credit cards and PayPal are accepted. However, you do not need to have, or create, a PayPal account to pay online. PayPal does not share your credit card information with MSDA.

    Registration for each Training Day will open about two weeks in advance of the training date and will close about one week in advance (so we know for sure how many birds to buy). Registration could close earlier if the day fills up.

    We will try to keep the registration page updated, but, if sessions fill up too quickly, you may be placed on a waitlist. You will be notified of this when you receive your detailed confirmation email. Depending on the training location and availability of volunteers, we may be able to accommodate a few extra registrations. However, if you are waitlisted, and do not get a spot by the time registrations close, you may choose either to receive a full refund or to roll your registration over to the next Training Day (putting you at the front of the line for that session).

    If you have any questions regarding these training days, please contact the event chair, Steve Surprenant, at Surprenant@mdsportingdog.org.

    Some Fine Print:

    All attendees will be required to sign an MSDA liability release. Most of you have already signed this on your membership form or when attending another MSDA activity. If we have your form on file, you do not need to sign again. Some locations used for Training Days also may require their own liability release. Links to these will be provided on the registration page for that date. Please read these and be sure that you are willing to sign before you register for the Training Day.

    Owners and handlers are reminded that they are responsible for their own dog’s actions and that good sportsmanship is expected at all times. If dogs (or humans!) exhibit inappropriate behavior or aggression, you will be directed to leave the Training Day immediately and may be excluded from future MSDA training sessions. Such decisions are made exclusively by the event chair, or other event committee member in the chair’s absence.

    2022 Spring Spaniel Hunting Tests

    Saturday May 7, 2022
    & Sunday May 8, 2022
    Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD

    MSDA held two days — two separate events — of AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton MD. Junior, Senior and Master stakes were available each day and all eligible flushing breeds were welcome.

    Yes, it rained on Saturday. But hunt testers are made of sturdy stuff. And, they have bright orange raincoats! Either way, the dogs don’t seem to mind. Here are some photos of the weekend, courtesy of Ken Harringer.

    Rebel Ridge Farms is a 250+ acre private property located in northeastern Maryland. Many photos and an aerial tour of the property are available on the Rebel Ridge Farms website.

    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, Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Poodle (Miniature and Standard), 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. All dogs must be six months of age or older.

    Please direct any questions or comments concerning these hunt tests to the Event Chair, Steve Roth via HuntingChair@mdsportingdog.org .

    Field Day 2022

    Saturday April 9, 2022
    8 am – 4 pm
    Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD

    MSDA’s Annual Field Day — a FUN day of field work for bird dogs of all experience and skill levels — was Saturday April 9 at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton, MD. Field Day started in 2017, and this was our sixth.

    Photos are at the bottom of this page. Also, if you’re on Facebook, MSDA’s private group there (https://www.facebook.com/groups/mdsportingdog) is overflowing with pictures and comments about Field Day 2022!

    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. 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 attended! Participants included one or more dogs of the following breeds: Airedale Terrier, Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Clumber Spaniel, Curly-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Epagneul Breton, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Irish Red & White Setter, Labrador Retriever, Pointer/Llewellin Setter, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Spinone Italiano, Sussex Spaniel, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Not really “participating”, but in residence, were a pair of nesting Bald Eagles tending to their two eaglets.

    To keep all working groups small and busy, Field Day was divided into morning and afternoon sessions. CGC (Canine Good Citizen) testing also was offered midday, and this year participants enjoyed a “decadent desserts buffet” at the clubhouse. Field Day is designed to accommodate everyone from true beginner dogs (who have never met a bird) to experienced master hunters. It is mostly 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 handlers and 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.

    Click on any photo to enlarge it and move through the gallery.

    Photos of the Pointing Group sessions, by Carolina Johnson:

    Photos of the Retrieving Group working at the water, by Carolina Johnson:

    Photos from Tiffany Pfluger:

    Photos of the Flushing Group by Lori Taylor:

    Photos of the Pointing Group by Michelle Turton

    Even more photos from Field Day!

    2022 Bird Dog Instinct Clinics

    MSDA held Bird Instinct Clinics on Friday March 4th, Saturday March 5th, and Sunday March 6th during the MSDA Spring Event at the Howard County Fairgrounds (West Friendship). For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this was a great way to get started.

    This is a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity. It’s not a test, nor a training session, but more like ultimate playtime for sporting dogs! The clinic 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. Clinics are run by AKC hunt test judges and experienced handlers for flushing, pointing, and retrieving breeds.

    Some pictures taken at the Instinct Clinic sessions are displayed at the bottom of this page. Click on any photo to enlarge it and move through the entire gallery.

    Bryan Sirotkin of BSPhotography also photographed the dogs in the flushing/ retrieving breeds’ field on Sunday afternoon, March 6th. Literally hundreds of his photos of that session are available via https://bsphotography.net/ or access them directly at https://bsphotography.zenfolio.com/p1433405. You will need to enter an email address to view the gallery. Then, click on “Next” and/or “Slideshow” (in the upper right corner of the screen) to move easily through the photos. All photos are available for purchase.

    Feedback is always very welcome. Please send your comments to Steve Roth at HuntingChair@mdsportingdog.org or Pamela DeSmidt via Secretary@mdsportingdog.org .

    And, if you and your dog had fun at the Instinct Clinic, consider attending MSDA’s annual Field Day on Saturday, April 9th for an introduction to field training your bird dog.

    2022 photos:

    2021 Members’ Open Day

    Saturday, September 18, 2021
    Rebel Ridge Farms
    Elkton MD 21921

    Current and prospective MSDA members, their family and guests brought their dogs for an informal day at Rebel Ridge. Rebel Ridge Farms provides more than 250 acres of fields, ponds, and woods as well as a heated and air-conditioned clubhouse. They came out to practice their hunting, field obedience, and retrieving skills, see some experienced dogs in action, or just enjoy the day on this beautiful property.

    The only price for attending was a generously-sized potluck lunch dish contribution. On the same day at Rebel Ridge, MSDA was holding a Spaniel Hunting Test. Members’ Open Day potluck dishes, supplemented with purchased items, also provided the day’s lunch for the hunt testers.

    Members’ Open Day was very informal. There were no structured activities, though Sally Eck, who leads the Pointing Group at MSDA’s annual springtime Field Day, and Gary Seibel, who leads the Retrieving Group at Field Day, were there and were happy to provide demonstrations, encouragement and advice to others. We hope that everyone had a great time, learned something, and made some new friends.

    If you have any questions about Members’ Open Day or have any follow-up comments, please contact the Event Chair Pamela DeSmidt (Secretary@mdsportingdog.org).

    AKC Spaniel Hunt Test Seminar for Judges and Handlers (with Hunt Test) – Fall 2021

    Friday, September 17, 2021
    Rebel Ridge Farms,
    Elkton MD

    MSDA hosted a unique AKC Spaniel Hunt Test Seminar for Judges and Handlers in conjunction with our September Hunt Tests. This event was presented by Tom Meyer (AKC lead rep for Spaniel Hunt Tests/Field Trials) and was conducted entirely in the field, revolving around a licensed AKC Spaniel Hunt Test. Tom conducted the seminar as he was judging the test with one other judge, and used the actual field set-ups and dog performances for teaching in lieu of a classroom lecture.

    Thanks to Tom Meyer and all of the participants and volunteers.

    If you have any questions about how the seminar and hunt test were conducted or have some follow-up comments, please contact the Event Chair, Steve Surprenant (Surprenant@mdsportingdog.org).

    2021 Fall Spaniel Hunting Tests

    Saturday September 18 (AKC Event #2021441910) and
    Sunday September 19 (AKC Event #2021441911)
    at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton MD.

    MSDA held two days — two separate events — of AKC Spaniel Hunting Tests at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton MD. Rebel Ridge provides spacious grounds, ample ponds, and excellent fall cover. (They let the grass grow extra tall just for our hunt test weekend!)

    One or more of the following breeds ran in the hunt tests: Boykin Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Poodle, Standard Poodle and Welsh Springer Spaniel.

    Thanks to all the human and canine participants, judges, gunners, committee members and all volunteers who helped make this weekend a success. Thanks also to members who attended the Members’ Open Day on Saturday for providing the awesome potluck dishes for the hunt testers’ buffet lunches for the weekend.

    If you have any questions about how the hunt tests were conducted or have some follow-up comments, please contact the Event Chair, Steve Roth (huntingchair@mdsportingdog.org).

    Upland Dog Fundamentals Workshop June 19-20, 2021

    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 was pleased to hold a late-June training workshop led by professional trainer/handler Jordan Horak. Jordan is an accomplished upland dog professional trainer and handler, winner of both the National Open and National Amateur Cocker Championships, and the inventor of the Cato Board placeboard (named after his English Cocker Spaniel).

    The workshop was held on Saturday June 19 and Sunday June 20 at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD. A limited number of private lessons were available on Monday, June 21. Eleven working teams (dog + handler), as well as auditors, participated.

    Participants and their dogs were at all skill different levels. On Saturday and Sunday, working teams took turns training with Jordan both on the lawn and in the field, while everyone in the group was able to observe. After each exercise, there was a discussion of key points, what went well and how to achieve improvements. Emphasis was placed on developing the bond between dog and handler. Jordan’s deep knowledge of sporting dogs was evident throughout the weekend.

    Photos of the weekend are below. Click on any image to enlarge. Thanks, Roseanna Bennett and Steve Roth, for taking pictures!

    If you have questions regarding this training weekend, please contact the Event Chair, Steve Surprenant at Surprenant@mdsportingdog.org.