APLA Triple Crown Invitational Test (4XGMPRTC)


PURPOSE

The purpose of APLA’s Triple Crown Invitational test is to provide a format for the American Pointing Labrador to demonstrate the versatility, endurance, and the highest level of natural abilities and trained behaviors for which the American Pointing Labrador Association tests.

To accomplish this, all dogs entered will be tested over three consecutive days on Upland hunts along with a Land Retrieves, Land-Water Retrieves or Water Retrieving series with Blinds.

Over the three successive days, they will be scored on a noncompetitive basis in nine (9) categories. These categories are NOSE, COOPERATION, DESIRE, SEARCH, POINT, INTENSITY, STEADINESS TO WING AND SHOT, RETRIEVES (including LAND DOUBLE or TRIPLE, LAND-WATER DOUBLE or TRIPLE, and WATER DOUBLE or TRIPLE), LAND and WATER BLIND(s).

Nose, Cooperation, and Desire will be evaluated throughout all parts of the test. Search will be evaluated throughout all parts of the test except the Blind Retrieve. Point, Intensity and Steadiness to Wing and Shot will be evaluated in the Upland Field. The tests are designed to prove at a high level the versatility of the Pointing Labrador as an all-around working gun dog, bred and developed at the highest levels both for upland bird hunting on a variety of species and for waterfowl hunting.

Testing will be scored on a noncompetitive basis on a zero to five (0 to 5) scale in one half (1/2) point increments in each of the nine (9) categories each day, over the 3 day series. Any dog scoring a 2.5 or lower in any category will fail immediately and will not be allowed to continue the test. A minimum total score of 38.5 out of the 45 possible points each day is required in order to be called back to the next series and pass the test. While the test is demanding, experience shows that qualifying scores are attainable for dedicated hunters/trainers/handlers.


QUALIFYING FOR THE TRIPLE CROWN INVITATIONAL

A dog must qualify to enter the Triple Crown Invitational Series. It must be a 4XGMPR by test day, and must have passed three (3) qualifying GMPR level tests during the previous twelve months. Qualifying time runs from August 1st of the previous calendar year to July 31st of the current year. If a dog passes the Triple Crown Invitational to earn the Triple Crown title, that pass will count as one of the qualifying GMPR level passes for the following year.  For the first year of the Triple Crown Invitational Series only, two passes at the GMPR level are required to qualify for the 2020 event  These passes must have occurred during the August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2020 time frame and the dog must be a 4XGMPR by test day.   The APLA Triple Crown Invitational will be hosted every year on Labor Day Weekend. Three Senior Master Judges will judge together for the APLA Triple Crown Invitational series. The Judges will be picked solely by the APLA Hunt Test Committee.  


Dogs qualifying for the Triple Crown Invitational by earning their 4XGMPR title that year will have to requalify if they do not participate that year, regardless of whether they scratch or choose not to participate.


Dogs previously titled as 4XGMPR that qualified for the current year’s Triple Crown Invitational by earning 3 qualifying scores in that year, who entered the Triple Crown but scratched under the APLA scratch policy, will still be qualified for the following year.


Qualified dogs for the Triple Crown that do not participate in the qualifying year, will have to requalify each year.

  


GENERAL OVERVIEW

UPLAND

In the Upland Field, each bird contact should be looked at as an opportunity to perform to the APLA’s GMPR standard, clearly showing natural signs of pointing with intensity being present.

The Upland Field will consist of approximately 10 acres of varied cover (as available). Four (4) chukar will be placed at random throughout the Upland Field. The Handler will be allowed a maximum of 20 minutes to hunt the field. The Handler must indicate to the Judges whether he or she wants to put up the birds or wants the Gunner to put up the birds, when a successful point is achieved. He/She must also indicate whether he wants any birds shot that the dog puts up without having pointed. The dog and Handler must hunt the entire field, efficiently searching for multiple birds. Multiple bird contacts are required.  Once requirements are met in the Upland Field, time limit may be shortened at the judges’ discretion or may be shortened for the safety of the dog (heat, injury, etc.).The field party will consist of the Handler and dog, three (3) Judges, and a designated Gunner. Spectators may be present in a designated area. With the consent of the Handler, other designated individuals may accompany the field party, such as a photographer or one other "guest". Should those individuals "bump" a bird in the field or cause a dog to fail to hold a point, it is considered the responsibility of the Handler and the incident will not be considered for any type of protest or re-run. The guests in the field party may not give any type of verbal communication, directive, or support to the Handler and are required to remain in the holding area while birds are being planted. Should the guest offer the Handler guidance or help, there is a high risk of disqualification.

The minimum number of birds which the dog must locate and point in the Upland Field will depend on the overall Upland Conditions, including (but not limited to) wind, scenting conditions, and how well the birds are holding. It is the responsibility of the Handler to organize the overall hunt to maximize both the number of bird contacts and the likelihood of birds being successfully pointed when found. The Judges will determine the minimum number of required successful points for the dog after seeing enough of the day’s Upland work to evaluate the overall Upland Conditions. The dog’s required minimum may be two or three birds, but that minimum may be adjusted up or down depending on the Judges’ evaluation of the overall Upland conditions, which may change throughout the course of the day. Failure of the dog to locate and point a sufficient number of birds may be due to inadequacies in any or all of the following Categories: Nose, Point, Intensity, Search, Cooperation, Desire, or Steadiness to Wing and Shot.

 


THE NINE SCORING CATEGORIES

NOSE

Quality and use of the nose will be judged throughout the test. The dog must prove not only that it has a good nose, but that it can use it to efficiently find birds. In the Upland Field, the dog should indicate scent where game is present. The distance that the dog first encounters the scent cone and where the dog establishes point are good indications of nose. Repeated non-productive points may be an indicator of a poor nose. Both in the Upland Field and in marked Retrieves, quickly finding downed game in heavy cover also shows a good nose. (Weather and other factors will be taken into consideration in scoring.)

COOPERATION
In all parts of the test, the dog should respond to commands or signals given by the Handler. In the Upland Field the Handler will determine the overall pattern of the search, but a well-trained dog will need little assistance in hunting within this general pattern. Scores will be heavily downgraded for a dog that runs with disregard to the Handler during any part of the test.

All retrieves must be delivered to hand.

For all retrieves and blinds, the Handler is allowed an initial send (sending command from his location) and one re-send from the same location if necessary, but if there is more than one re-send throughout the entire Master test, “no go” will be called and the dog will be given a zero (0) for Cooperation.

DESIRE
The dog must demonstrate a strong desire to hunt, to retrieve, and to work with its Handler. Desire can be evaluated through the enthusiasm, self-motivation, and body language displayed by the dog as it performs its work. Scores will be downgraded in this category for a dog that requires repeated verbal encouragement to hunt or retrieve or for a dog that seems intimidated by its Handler.

SEARCH
In the Upland Field, the Handler must determine the overall pattern of the search with the clear intent to find four birds. Within this overall pattern, the dog should enthusiastically demonstrate purpose and pattern while using its sense of smell, showing a natural ability to locate birds on its own. On all retrieves, the dog should go quickly to the area of the fall, and search with purpose in the area of the fall. Aimless running or walking will not be construed as search for any bird, whether in hunting or in retrieving.

POINT/INTENSITY

The Judges are to allow for all styles of natural point, with no preference to any style. A bird must be produced from the point to allow the point to be scored. All points should demonstrate the natural ability to point a bird with relatively good intensity.

To establish point, the dog must become motionless in a standing position (movement of the head or tail is allowed). The dog must clearly establish natural point on its own prior to any type of command, cue, or signal given by the Handler. Only after the Judge has started the ten (10) second count may the Handler give a quiet, non-intimidating, steadying command. The dog must remain on point for a minimum of ten (10) seconds. The dog may reposition itself while on point, but upon re-establishing point, the ten (10) second count will be restarted. Repositioning which results in a staunch point indicating that the dog has confidence in bird location will not lower scores. However, creeping or repositioning to crowd the bird may lower the pointing score. The Handler may not reposition the dog once it has established point until the dog is released for the retrieve.

For top scores the point must be intense and unmistakable. Intensity shows that the dog has confidence that he or she has located the bird. But intensity should not be judged on a time limit. The wind could fluctuate or the distraction of the Judges and Handler approaching could change the dog’s intensity level. The dog must clearly show instinct to naturally point scent as opposed to sight. Dogs "blinking" or intentionally leaving the area of game are to be severely faulted.

Throughout the Upland hunt, any dog that willfully flushes game will be severely faulted. The dog may run into the bird from the upwind side, not aware of its presence and "bump" the bird without being penalized. A dog that "bumps" a bird on the downwind side (this is considered a willful flush) will be penalized in Nose, Search, or Pointing. Birds judged to have “flushed wild” well in front of a working dog should not be scored as bumped birds.

Throughout the Upland hunt, a dog that actually willfully catches birds will be failed, unless it is determined by the Judges that the bird flushed directly into the dog’s face or that after being flushed, the bird stayed in close proximity to the dog on point and was incapable of flight or other extraordinary circumstances existed. 


STEADINESS TO WING AND SHOT
 
Steadiness to Wing and Shot will be judged on what has been exhibited in the Upland Field. For the dog to receive top scores, cooperative and willing work will be required.

Steadiness to Wing begins any time the dog sees a bird flush, or any time a member of the Field Party is sent in to flush a pointed bird. The dog may reposition itself without crowding in, but only as needed either to see the bird being flushed or to see the flight of the bird.  Dogs must remain standing at point for the full ten (10) second count and shall not be directed to sit until the bird is produced; a down grade in steadiness will accrue if sit command is given before bird is produced.  Voluntary sitting in anticipation of the bird will not be downgraded. A sit command may be given at the time the bird is produced by the Handler or the Gunner. (If the bird takes flight or takes off running, the bird has been produced). During the flight of the bird or prior to someone going in to flush the bird, the Handler may quietly steady the dog, but may not reposition the dog from where it established point. If a shot is fired, the dog should remain steady. Throughout, the Handler may, in a non-intimidating way, reinforce the dog’s steadiness. Excessively loud or intimidating commands may result in failure. The Handler may also reposition himself a short distance, but only enough to get a reasonable view of the flight or fall of the bird or to keep his dog in view during its retrieve or if it breaks.


If a bird has been shot, approximately a three second delay will occur from the time the bird is down until the Judge instructs the Handler to release the dog to make the retrieve. The dog must remain steady until commanded to retrieve by its Handler.

If at any time prior to its release, the dog breaks, the Handler must quickly get it under control. If directed by the Judges, the Handler must call the dog back to a heel position. A Controlled Break will significantly decrease the dog’s score for steadiness. A Controlled Break is defined as the dog showing intent to retrieve before being released by the Judges.  Either an Uncontrolled Break or three Controlled Breaks in the Upland Field over all three days will result in a zero (0) score for steadiness.


RETRIEVING REQUIREMENTS

There must be 2 triples during the 3 series over the 3 days. (At the Judges’ discretion, either the Land Retrieve, the Land-Water Retrieve, or the Water Retrieve but only one, may involve a “walk-up” in which the birds are thrown as the Handler and dog approach the line from which the dog will be sent.)  Additionally, at the Judges’ discretion, a non-working dog may be required to “honor” the retrieve of a working dog.  Again, this can only be an element of one of the three retrieving series.

LAND / LAND-WATER / WATER RETRIEVES
Scoring in this category will reflect work performed on the Upland Field as well as during the Land Retrieves. Retrieves must be efficient.

In the Upland Field, the dog should mark the fall; however, if necessary, the Handler may assist the dog with hand or whistle signals. Excessive handling in the Upland Field will lower the score for Land Retrieves. Handling in upland field does not count against retriever series handles.

On those occasions when the Gunner fails to down a successfully pointed bird within the Upland Field, a retrieve will be simulated by firing the gun and throwing a dead bird. The dog must retrieve all cleanly killed game and all birds from simulated retrieves that it should see fall within the boundaries of the course.

For the retrieving series, pheasants and/or ducks (Ducks are to be used on all water retrieves) will be thrown, with each mark approximately 100 yards or less. For Water retrieves, each line shall cross a fair or significant amount of water.  The dog must remain steady until the Handler is instructed by the Judge to make the retrieve. A delay of approximately three (3) seconds will occur from the time the third bird hits the ground until the Judge instructs the Handler to make the retrieve. The Handler may quietly speak to his dog in a non-intimidating fashion while waiting for the Judge to signal him to make the retrieve. The dog must stay at the line where it has been sat for the marked retrieves until the Judge’s signal is given. (If the dog does not stay in close proximity to the line where it has been sat, the Judges will instruct the Handler to re-heel the dog before giving the signal to make the retrieve.)

A judge may ask the dog to re-heel if the dog creeps without it being considered a Controlled Break.  Excessive creeping may result in a Controlled Break or a lower score in cooperation.  

If at any point the dog starts to break before the Judge’s signal is given, the Handler may stop the dog using whistle commands and/or strong voice commands. If the Handler has to give a whistle command or a strong verbal command to hold the dog at his side, the Judges may ask that the dog be re-heeled to its Handler’s side, and it will be considered a Controlled Break. A Controlled Break is defined as the dog showing intent to retrieve before being released by the Judges, and having to be stopped from doing so by a strong voice and/or whistle command from the Handler.  Each Controlled Break will significantly lower the Cooperation score. An Uncontrolled Break will result in a zero (0) in Cooperation. Three Controlled Breaks on the marks of the Land Retrieves, Land-Water Retrieves and Water Retrieves over all 3 series over the 3 days will result in a zero (0) in Cooperation.

Dogs may pick up the birds in whatever order they or their Handlers choose. But dogs that hunt the area of the fall, fail to recover the bird and leave the area of the fall to search another fall area are said to have switched. A dog that switches lacks perseverance and will be scored a zero (0) in the retrieve.

Judges are looking for retrieving desire as well as the efficiency of a reasonably direct line.

All retrieving series Land, Land-Water and the Water are marking tests. Handling will not be required if the dog can mark the fall and remember the location of all birds. Should the Handler elect to handle, handling must be crisp and precise. Once the Handler chooses to handle, the burden of bird recovery switches to the Handler. In other words, the dog must be handled directly to the fall, not just put in the area and allowed to hunt.

The retrieving series also test memory skills for the dog.  If it is necessary to handle on more than two of the marked retrieves of the land, land-water and water retrieves it is normally expected that the dog will be failed on retrieving due to deficient marking and/or memory.  Also, if more than one handle is used in any one retriever series, it is normally expected that the dog will be failed on retrieving.


All birds retrieved will be examined for evidence of hard mouth. Should a dog exhibit hard mouth, it will receive a zero (0) in Land Retrieve. Evidence of crushed bone structure, canine tooth penetration or audible crunching while the dog has a bird in its mouth are sufficient to result in a zero (0) score in Land Retrieve.


THE DIVERSION BIRD
One of the three (3) Series will include a “diversion bird”. This will involve the simulated shooting and throwing of a dead duck or pheasant from behind a blind or other concealed location. This location should be well away from either of the lines to the marked retrieves. The throw will occur while the dog is returning to the Handler on its final retrieve of the series, and the throw will be preceded an attention getter: voice, popper and/or some form of call.

The goal is to demonstrate the dog’s willingness to complete the assigned retrieve before carrying out the diversion retrieve. The dog will be failed if it switches and picks up the diversion bird before returning the marked retrieve. No intimidating gestures or commands may be given to prevent a switch. However, the dog may be whistled or otherwise quietly called off the diversion bird. If the dog drops the bird it is carrying and it must be handled to avoid a switch, it will be penalized in retrieving, perhaps severely.

The arc of the diversion bird should be readily visible to the working dog as it returns to its Handler, but the bird should not fall so near as to make the temptation severe. The bird should land at least 10 yards from the return line of the dog, and should be placed so that the dog can easily see the bird as it falls.

After the return with the marked retrieve it is carrying, the dog will be sent to retrieve the diversion bird (handling if necessary).

BLIND RETRIEVES

Blind(s) shall be included in each of the Retriever series.  There must be a Double Blind in one of the three (3) series. A dead duck will be used for the blinds. The Judges will identify the location where the bird is located. The distance of the blind(s) will be 100 yards or less from point of origin to the location of the bird. (At the discretion of the Judges, a shot may be fired.) The dog must be handled to the blind, without being turned loose to hunt the bird.

This is a test of how well the dog handles, so the Handler should “challenge the line to the blind”. That is, the dog should be handled to keep a reasonably tight line to the blind.

A “No Go” on the initial send will be severely down scored.

TITLES
A dog who earns a qualifying (i.e., passing) score over the 3 days of testing will be awarded a Triple Crown Invitational qualifying score ribbon. A qualifying score over 3 days of testing is 115.5 minimum out of 135 possible. A dog must already hold the 4X Grand Master Pointing Retriever title. A dog may be entered in each year by qualifying for the Triple Crown Invitational Series tests, and each additional qualifying score will be awarded a ribbon and a prefix will be added to its title. (Prefix 4XGMPRTC, 4XGMPRTC2, etc.)


"Approved by the Board 3/5/2020, effective immediately.  Amended by the Board 8/13/2020.


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