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Rules, Regulations, and A Working Relationship for 100 Years

June 1, 2024

Source: Domenick Muoio
Job Title: Field Trial & Hunt Test Program Manager
Department: Hunting Ops

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The American Field/UKC, Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB), and Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America (AFTCA) have had a working relationship for more than 100 years. Because of that relationship, American Field/UKC field trials, Open or Amateur, operate under the same rules, regulations, and minimum requirements.

Wise decisions were made long ago to keep rules, regulations, and requirements to a minimum and build standards, traditions, and policies around them. It has long been the policy that each Club's events follow the same set of simple rules, regulations, and requirements, regardless of location, so the results from their stakes are meaningful compared to similar stakes in other places. Relativity and relatability are critical components for competition or even when trying to improve the breed, which historically is the primary purpose of trials. When drawings occur in the same way when there is the expectation and reality that the rules, regulations, and standards will be followed, whether judging, handling, or running events, the sport remains familiar to all, and that encourages fair competition. The sport benefits where there is certainty and consistency and suffers with exceptions and inconsistency.

When putting on an event, finding ways to work around them or make unique and uncommon interpretations of so few rules, regulations, and requirements for personal benefit is not particularly difficult or honorable and certainly not sustainable. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of participants work positively within the spirit of our few rules because they have long realized that the discipline to remain true to the sport actually benefits the sport. When issues arise, the responsibility to interpret the same rules and regulations for Open events rests with the UKC, and Amateur events rest with the residing President of the AFTCA. Club officials who translate rules and regulations outside of tradition and long-held interpretation at their events do so at their own risk.

Each summer, trustees of the AFTCA meet to discuss, amongst other things, the rules, regulations, minimum requirements, and standards of our sport. Trustees bring hands-on experience in all facets of the sport from across the United States and Canada to meet on these issues. At that meeting, an American Field/UKC representative attends to contribute, advise, and discuss with the AFTCA Trustees and ultimately adopt the motions passed by the AFTCA so that the sport, Open or Amateur, remains one in purpose and function.

The following two resources are indispensable to help provide consistency across our sport for all involved. Standards to Field Trial Procedure, Judicial Practice, Handler and Bird Dog Performance is available from the AFTCA and is a must-know for anyone investing time and effort in the sport. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each participant to know and follow the rules and regulations. AFTCA Running Rules and Minimum Requirements are updated yearly and available on the AFTCA website. They can also be easily resourced by club members or trustees. Field Trial Clubs, Event Chairs, and participants are encouraged to have both at their disposal during all of their events.

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