Westminster Hunting Test
By Laura Bedford
Despite the threat of rain, handlers, dogs and Hunt Test Committee assembled on Sunday, Sept. 22, for the Sixth Annual Westminster Kennel Club Hunting Test, held on the spectacular grounds of the Tamarack Game Preserve in Amenia, NY. Thankfully, skies cleared, and the breeze picked up, making the conditions ideal for scenting the chukars that had been planted on both courses.
This year, professional photographer Steve Surfman was in attendance, documenting the event. His photographs bear witness to the enthusiasm and skill of dogs of various breeds, competing in the test. Handlers, spectators and committee spent the day watching these dogs joyfully work the fields, pointing with intensity, and in the case of the Senior and Master stakes, retrieving birds to hand. The judges were duly impressed by the performances, and the entrants expressed gratitude for the kindness and helpfulness of the judges. In the Junior stake, out of 14 starters, there were 9 qualifiers, out of two Senior dogs, one qualified, and of the five Master dogs, two qualified.
Adding to the stunning grounds and the bird sense of the dogs was the fact that these dogs are great examples of their breed. Four of these dogs had been shown at the Westminster Kennel Club bench show in the past and many have plans to attend in 2014. Grand Champions and National Specialty winners were among the entries, and many have parents who have been shown at "the Garden." They come from lines that repeatedly produce high quality dogs in conformation, while successfully maintaining the ability to do the job they were bred to do. The world of dogs is in a good state when the dual qualities of these dogs are encouraged -- "form follows function."
As a special bonus, this year, artist Paul Chinelli made a generous offer as well. He donated a life-size graphite portrait of the owner's dog to the winner of our "Drawing for a Drawing." All who entered the test, and all who attended were entered into the drawing, at no cost, and the portrait was won by hard-working hunt test secretary Harvey Wooding.
This year's hunt test was clearly a success, thanks in no small part to the hard work by the Westminster Hunt Test committee, headed by Chairman Steve Bedford, who said, "It was gratifying to see dogs that are traditionally associated with the bench, performing so wonderfully in the field. I appreciate the hard work of the committee and all of our helpers. We hope to continue to provide a first-rate test."
Judge Richard Dwyer, who judged the Junior Hunters, had this to say: "This was the most organized and most efficient event I have ever judged, great job by the committee. The grounds were perfect for a Junior course - sufficient running area at the breakaway, nice channeled back course and a wide bird field to allow the young dogs to do their work without being crowded by a brace mate. It all made for a good day observing some wonderful dogs."
Comments from the participants echoed the sentiment:
"We had a great time and the grounds are great. Thank you for a great day."
"My husband and I would like to commend WKC on a wonderful event. Our 8-hour drive from Virginia was well worth it."
"Keep up the great work!"
"The grounds were beautiful, the event was well organized and friendly, and both my dog and I enjoyed it tremendously!"
"Thank you and all the club members for putting on such a great event. We enjoyed the day ... hope to see you next year!"
Entries: 21. Judges: Steve Kreuser, Canterbury, CT, and Don Bristol, Oakville, CT, Senior and Master Hunter; Bill Fralick, Deerfield, NH, and Richard Dwyer, Warner, NH, Junior Hunter.
MASTER HUNTER: Banjo's Teddy Redboy MH, Vizsla, owned by Lance & Susan Morrow, handled by John Boyles; Mondai's Soar 'N Precious Tawny Heart MH, Vizsla, owned and handled by Deborah Field.
SENIOR HUNTER: GCH Seasyde Berries Jubilee JH, Pointer, owned by Lisa Canfield, Helyne Madeiros & Michael Scott, handled by Jeff Reis.
JUNIOR HUNTER: GCH Seasyde Wynot Can Only Imagine, Pointer, owned by Katherine Shorter & Helyne Madeiros, handled by Kathy Shorter; Wynot Valcopy Step Right Up, Pointer, owned and handled by Kathy Shorter; Rose Mountain's Royal Rock n' Roll, German Shorthaired Pointer, owned by Barbara Von Blarcum & Raymond Scarth, handled by Barbara Von Blarcum; Halcyon Xemplar, Gordon Setter, owned by David and Mary Myers, handled by Laura Bedford; GCH Sweetbriars Unforgettable Fire, English Setter, owned and handled by Jane Danek; Shadybrook Coralwood String of Pearls, Pointer, owned by Susan London & Sally Barton, handled by William Bradl; Cady Falls Kaia's Harmony Four Seasons, German Shorthaired Pointer, owned and handled by Dawn Bradshaw; GCH Shadybrook Coralwood Harlington of Madison, Pointer, owned by Susan London and Sally Barton, handled by William Bradl; Blackthorne Snap Crackle Pop, Pointer, owned and handled by Debra Freidus, DVM.