2023 Bird Dog Instinct Clinics

MSDA will hold Bird Instinct Clinics on Friday March 3rd, Saturday March 4th, and Sunday March 5th during the MSDA “Spring Event” at the Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Rd, West Friendship, MD 21794). For a bird dog with little or no field experience, this is a great way to get started.

This is a fun, relaxed, and encouraging activity. The clinic consists of individual work with each dog and handler. Each dog gets 10-15 minutes in the field, ending with a bird contact (e.g., flush, point, retrieve). Trainers get the dogs excited about the birds, and then the dogs are able to scent 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. There is lots of fun, and great information, too!

Instinct Clinic 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 for the AKC Hunt Test programs, or to simply see how much fun you can have when your dog gets turned on to birds!!

All potential bird dogs are welcome. Your dog does not have to be entered in the MSDA dog show or obedience/rally trials at Spring Event to participate in the Instinct Clinic.

Trainers will be available to work with dogs from 11 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 4 pm each of the three days. There is no pre-registration for the Instinct Clinics. Just come out to the field and sign up when you’re ready for some fun – it’s first come, first served. The number of dogs we can handle is limited, however. Usually Saturday and Sunday afternoons are the busiest times, so aim for Friday or the mornings if you can.

The clinic fee is $20 per dog – cash or check, payable when you sign in at the field. Payment by credit card is also an option, with an additional $1 fee. Also, Spring Event parking at the Fairgrounds is $5 per vehicle.

For Instinct Clinic, your dog needs a collar and leash (not just a slip lead) . Optionally, spaniels and retrievers may want to bring a favorite retrieving toy to get started. We’ll provide a very long lead and all other supplies. Dogs are never off-leash during these sessions.

Live birds are used. There is no gunfire; flushed birds fly away.

The Instinct Clinics are held outside, so please dress for outdoor fun! They will be in a grassy field less than 500 feet west of the main (conformation) building, near the fairgrounds’ horse ring. A map is below. Once on the fairgrounds property, when you are facing the main hall and annex, turn right (west) and follow the driveway past the line of trees. Then look to the left and you will see a collection of cars, a pop-up tent, tables, etc. in the distance. There will be some parking available up near the horse ring. Please don’t drive or try to park in low-lying areas — cars have gotten stuck in the mud down there.

Note that the ground is covered in grass, dirt and (some) straw, so you may not want to run your dog in an Instinct Clinic and then go directly to the conformation ring.

One or more sessions could be rescheduled or cancelled in case of severe weather. If so, updated information will be posted here on this web page, the home page of the MSDA website, and also will be shared via MSDA’s private Facebook Group.

For more information and lots of photos, see our Instinct Clinic page for 2022. A few very short Instinct Clinic videos are on MSDA’s YouTube channel. MSDA member Deb Kirk also offers a longer introductory training video that includes a lot of photos and extensive video from MSDA Instinct Clinics.

Questions? Please contact Steve Roth at huntingchair@mdsportingdog.org.

And, if you and your dog have fun at the Instinct Clinic, consider attending MSDA’s annual Field Day for an introduction to field training your bird dog. Field Day will most likely be scheduled for a Saturday in April. The exact date and much more information will be provided after the first of the year.

2022 Training Days for Flushing Dogs

MSDA has been holding Training Days for flushing dogs. The objective 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.

In 2022, there were five sessions, in March, April, May, June and September. The final 2022 Training Day for Flushing Dogs was to have been on November 11, but had to be canceled due to severe weather.

More information about these Training Days is below. We hope to continue flushing training in 2023.

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.

The typical day went from 8:30 am to 3:30 or 4 pm. Each Training Day allowed training at four levels (Newbie, Junior, Senior and Master). Exercises available included general advice, land quartering/ flushing/ retrieving, hunt dead, water retrieves and a water blind. Live birds (pigeons, chukar, or pheasant) were available for advance purchase. Each training day accommodated 16-18 dogs, usually divided into two groups, with a mix of dogs and handlers (Newbies, Junior, Senior and Master) in each group.

Training Days for Flushing Dogs in 2022 were 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. In 2022, Training Days were held at Thornhill Farm in Woodbine, MD and at Mount Ararat Farm in Fort Deposit, MD.

Fall 2022 Hunt Test Weekend

Saturday, September 17th & Sunday September 18th
9 am – 4 pm
Rebel Ridge Farms
295 Woods Road, Elkton, MD 21921

Something for everyone, including:

  • AKC-licensed Spaniel Hunting Tests (two days, two tests) on Saturday and Sunday.
  • WD (Working Dog) hunt tests for selected spaniel breeds on Sunday only.
  • On Saturday only:
    • Mock Junior Pointing Hunt Test
    • Mock Junior Retrieving Hunt Test
    • Open House for all MSDA members and potential members.

The rest of this web page is about the Pointing and Retrieving Mock Hunt Tests and the Open House, all on Saturday. Follow the link for information about the Spaniel Hunting Tests and WD Tests.

MSDA’s Fall Hunt Test Weekend has traditionally been focused on flushing breeds. In 2021, we added an “open house” for members and prospective members. This year, we expanded further to provide Mock Junior AKC Hunt Tests for pointing and retrieving breeds. For those who have done some hunt training, including perhaps at MSDA’s Field Day, and were either curious about pointing or retrieving hunt testing, were getting ready for a first hunt test, or just needed a bit of extra practice (and some feedback), this was a great opportunity. The mock hunt tests were no-pressure, fun and great learning experience.

21 dogs entered the Mock Hunt Tests with another half dozen signed up for Open House. This included one or more of the following breeds: Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, Clumber Spaniel, English Setter, Epagneul Breton, Flat-Coated Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Vizsla, and Weimaraner.

Here are some photos. (Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the slideshow.)

Of the Pointing Mock Junior Hunt Test:

Of the Retrieving Mock Junior Hunt Test:

And, of course, thanks to all the Pointing, Retrieving, and Open House attendees who contributed… the potluck lunch buffet!

If you’re on Facebook, more photos are posted on MSDA’s private group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mdsportingdog.

If you have questions about:

Last, but not least, if you are an MSDA member, and you learned something or just had a great day with your dog, please consider sharing your progress via our new “Member Milestones“.

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

ALSO this weekend:

Mock Junior Hunt Tests for Pointing and for Retrieving breeds and an Open House on Saturday 9/17, and Spaniel Working Dog (WD) tests on Sunday 9/18

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

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!) Thank-yous all around to the judges, George Cacchio, Noel Cacchio, Mary Lou Dunn and Jean-Marie Tate as well as the gunners, entrants, committee members, other organizers and the many volunteers who make this happen!

There were 37 entries on Saturday and 34 on Sunday. Also on Sunday, seven dogs participated in Working Dog tests for selected spaniel breeds. In all, we had one or more of the following breeds entered: Boykin Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Labrador Retriever , Standard Poodle and Sussex Spaniel.

Here are some photos. (Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the slideshow.)

Taken by Ken Harringer:

A few more:

And some of the happy recipients of ribbons this weekend:

If you’re on Facebook, more photos are posted on MSDA’s private group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mdsportingdog.

If you have questions about these MSDA Spaniel Hunting Tests, please contact Steve Roth via HuntingChair@mdsportingdog.org .

Last, but not least, if you are an MSDA member, and you learned something or just had a great day with your dog, please consider sharing your progress via our new “Member Milestones“.

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 .

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).