About: Spaniel Hunt Tests

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Each year MSDA holds one or two weekends of AKC Spaniel Hunt Tests (SHTs), which are actually open to all “flushing” breeds. The core of these weekends are two separate SHTs, one event per day, on Saturday and on Sunday. Each day is open to Junior, Senior and Master levels. Typically, we limit entries to about 35 dogs per day and run one panel of two judges. In some years, we have added a third test day and/or a judges’ seminar on Friday, or have expanded to add another panel and accommodate a larger number of entries. Great lunch food, a professional photographer in the field, a Saturday afternoon “tailgate”, a raffle for event volunteers, and a judges’ appreciation dinner also have been fun components of these weekends.

The Fall Hunt Test Weekend has been a signature event for MSDA for many years and is usually scheduled around the middle of September at Rebel Ridge Farms in Elkton MD. We added the Spring Hunt Tests starting in 2021, and they also have been held at Rebel Ridge, usually during early May. MSDA uses HuntSecretary.com to process all entries. Information is typically available there starting two-three months before the event.

Spring 2023 photos were taken by Michael Schellenbach. Many more are available at https://schellenbachphotography.com/maryland-sporting-dog-association.

Fall 2023 photos were taken by Matt Toth. Many more are available at https://mtfieldsports.smugmug.com/MSDA-Flushing-Dog-Test.

In the Spring of 2024, instead of it being an MSDA event, we assisted the Clumber Spaniel Club of America with their two days of hunt tests. Although it was held by the CSCA, other flushing breeds participated as well including English Cockers, English Springers, Goldens, Labs, an Airedale, a Boykin and a Field Spaniel. Spring 2024 photos were taken by Matt Toth. Many more are available at https://mtfieldsports.smugmug.com/Clumber-Spaniel-Club-Hunt-Test.

Spaniel Hunt Tests, unlike Field Trials, are not competitive events. Dogs are run individually through a series of land and water exercises intended to simulate actual upland hunting situations. Those achieving qualifying score for the day are awarded a ribbon, and the test counts as one “leg” toward a title. Usually (there are exceptions), once a dog earns four legs at a level, they are awarded a Junior, Senior or Master Hunter title. The main components of AKC Spaniel Hunt Tests are:

  • Land work (finding, flushing and retrieving birds) – Junior, Senior & Master levels
  • Marked Water Retrieve (retrieving a dead bird from water after a simulated gunshot) – Junior, Senior & Master
  • Hunt Dead (finding and retrieving a hidden dead bird on land) – Senior & Master only
  • Water Blind (traversing water to find and retrieve a hidden dead bird on land) – Master only

There are relatively few AKC Spaniel Hunt Tests held each year in the mid-Atlantic region and MSDA is proud to continue to offer these events.

The Event Chair for MSDA’s Spaniel Hunt Tests varies. If you have questions about these events, the current or most-recent SHT chair can be reached via SHTChair@mdsportingdog.org.