EVERYONE LOVES GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP
By Tim Jorstad
It really feels good, completing a title on your Vizsla! Competing is often a draining experience! The old ABC Sports "thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat" quote certainly applies to our efforts! I can recount knotted stomachs, sweaty brows, thumping hearts and anxiety attacks myself when going forth to compete. Achieving a title usually whets your appetite for "More! More!"
I'd like to discuss what I see as a point of good sportsmanship... which truthfully holds true as your advance in all the performance arenas-hunting, obedience, and I would think tracking and agility, etc. You really should have a developed chance at passing prior to entering a specific test level. Doing so also gives your bracemate or fellow obedience (etc.) trialer a better chance of succeeding, too.
In obedience trials, you start off with group exercises at the Companion Dog level. Same holds true with the Vizsla Club of America Versatility program obedience test. In those exams, a good part of your chance for success will depend on the steadiness of the dogs left at stay in the ring with you! If your dog has neighbors who are not ready for the Stay exercises, you may find your dog negatively affected. Poof! You're out the entry fee, the time to prepare and attend, and your blood pressure likely spikes.
Having your dog "ready" to compete at a given level is important to save you time, money and frustration! But having your dog ready to compete at a given level BEFORE YOU ENTER is also good sportsmanship to those others being tested.
We had a number of our Vizslas recently finish their Junior Hunter titles. Congratulations to them, their handlers and owners!
However, if your dog is a new JH titleholder, please recognize it is a big leap from Junior to Senior! And you need to be sure you are ready to compete effectively at the Senior level before entering. If not, there is a considerable chance your Vizsla will not only knock his/herself out with an error, but will take his/her bracemate out as well!
In Junior, the judges need to see your dog hunting and handling in accordance with the standard, responding to you, a point with you in reasonable shotgun range. Many of our young Junior dogs are still prone to bust the bird up after they have found and pointed it. In Senior, your Vizsla has to maintain the point until the bird is flushed AND the bird is shot before the dog is released. Senior dogs must also show they honor their bracemate's point. Those are two VERY SIGNIFICANT advances in steadiness and expertise. (The Senior dog can be "whoaed" once showing an honor and, if the handier gets there, he can be collared.) Over the last 15 years of so, I've seen a lot of Senior competitors take out their bracemates by not being truly ready to compete. (The same holds true in the obedience ring and in Master Hunter tests.) And it is a major bummer when your dog is wiped out by your bracemate's error.
Jumping from the Junior to the Senior hunt test usually will take some time and a lot of practice sessions. A reflection of the difficulty of successfully testing at the Senior level is the fact our club has only had three Vizslas earn the title to date (as well as I can remember). Be a good sportsman or sportswoman-know your Vizsla is ready for the Senior test before entering. Your bracemate will really appreciate your consideration!
The VCA Versatility hunt test is a good place to go after junior as you develop your Vizsla! In that test, which I would argue is a bridge between the AKC Junior and Senior tests, your Vizsla hunts alone, can be collared after the point, and does not have to honor. The retrieve must be two-thirds of the way back to the handler... in Senior, the retrieve must be within a couple of steps.
Thanks and happy training!