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Which comes first? The Chicken or the Egg?

There's a lot going on in the showbred/red setter thread, so much so that I'm getting confused and wondered if we could break it down into "little" (HA! not-so little!) topics. This is my second attempt to break that conversation down a little!

The following was on that thread: "How do you expect your dog to be able to go out and do his or her job if their conformation does not allow them to." Good question!

So what comes first? The Conformation? Or the work?

Does having what may be considered "correct" conformation mean that a dog can, or will, work, simply based upon conformation? Or does it mean that a good, sound, hard-working dog "does" have correct conformation, otherwise he would be unable to do his job?

How can that be when he is penalized severely, even disqualified, in the show ring? I have some opinions of my own, but would like to hear what others think – maybe I’ll learn something!

Londa Warren, Edmond, OK, USA

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"Mary Tuite and her daughter Colette work and show, one even whent B.I.S. at Crufts."

But as far as I know the dogs that they show are not the same dogs that they ran in field trials. The one that went BIS , Ch Astley's Portia of Rua, was a full champion with a show gundog working certificate. Did they make up any more more full champions? Did they ever run any of their show dogs in field trials?
Mary's FTCh Rua Marta was a fairly typical working bitch, not a show bitch. I have great respect for Mary Tuite and she has given me a good advice, and I think she tried really hard to do both, but the impression I get is that she became resigned to keeping her show and working lines separate. But maybe I'm wrong?
In answer to Margarets questions:- Champion Astleys Portia of Rua ran at Field Trials starting with Shap july 1976 when she was just 9 months old. She was my first dog to run at field trials and i was a complete novice.She ran consistantly at trials for the next 4 years.At that time it was recognised that she was a "show" bitch and purist field trialers did not have much time for show animals.I made mistakes handling her like when at one partridge trial the judges said "pick up"(Joyce Damarell founder of the famous Sparkfield pointers) but Portia was on point at the bottom of the field, instead of turning to the judges to say my dog is on point , I put my lead on as instructed.When i returned to the judges ,they asked me why i had put my lead on her when she was on point.Portia was regularly in the second round at most of the trials she attended.I know she did not have the speed that field trial judges would like to see. At the Scottish gundog field trial of 1980 ,the second day of the trial a day after getting her qualifier (which she did by running in the field trial itself) i was drawn to run against Harrie Fergies' famous Irish (who later became FT CH Rustler Boy) and was the star of the 80 field trial circuit as he ran with such speed, although he regularly crashed the birds before the end of the trials????? i remember thinking the fastest dog on the circuit and Portia, hm ,however we had spent all morning walking through low cloud with poor visibility and Portia was wet right through and shivering with anticipation as she loved working.Portia gave the performance of her life and even though i knew the judges would not have eyes for her (having stayed in the same accomodation as the judges and having heard them discussing the wonderful attributes of Rustler Boy,she gave him a run for his money and i was proud of her,although predictably he was brought back for the second round and i was not.

In answer to our show bred dogs being run at field trials:-

My mothers Rua Errigal(wendover souvenir x Suriats sweet syllabub of Rua)
got over 40 green stars plus a cc and would have been an Irish Champion under todays rules then he needed a field trial qualifier .He was regularly run at Field Trials and the judges of one of the trials where i ran him in lieu of Portia (as Portia was in season) told us he would have easily got his qualifier at the trial only there was an element of doubt if i should have run him, as Portia was in a joint ownership with my Mother and Errigal was in Sole ownership of my Mother.He got into the second round after outperforming Peter Stewart handling John Nashs' Moanruad Ablaze.
I later ran Rua's Fergus at Porschet at field trials where he had several points, although no awards.(Rua's Errigal xCh Astley's Portia of Rua)

I later ran Mildyke Celtic Maid of Porschet(Rua Flannigan x Porschet Romantic Reflaction)(Cornevon Diamond x Rua Brocade)(SHCH Scarletti Cockney Rebel xRua's Celtic Romance (a daughter of Portia to Wendover Rackateer).I have some lovely photos of her on Point as she was very stylish and had lovely game production although a field trial judge said it was too slow????Other people of repute in the field commented to me that they hadnt seen such a good work out in years as she put up individually 12 grouse in a covey.

By now i realized that i would like to have a more field trial bred dog to trial and hence got Misty who later became FT CH Rua Connemara of Porschet (Ballinasloe Blaze x Rua Highland Fling).
Sadly for me she suffered from Phantom pregnancies whish affected her performances during July and immediately 63 days after her seasons she would be a different animal ,consequently some of her 2nds i feel would have been firsts had she not had phantoms as she seemed to run as if her brakes were on but after 63 days the brakes came off..

Misty's sister was Rua Gale who when mated to Rua My Love (Double Dose of Errigal x Portia) produced FT CH Rua Marta

Yes these Field Trial Champions have more field lines however they were nice looking animals which My Mother felt was important.They would never have wun ccs at shows, However one of Ft Ch Rua,s Connemara of Porschets,daughters sire by the Swedish Import Oestraby,s Athos (Porschet Sweet Saffron) was a very good worker and she was structurally sound in all departments.When i first started showing dogs nearly 40 years ago she would have been capable of getting a cc under perhaps Hartsbourne type judges. Athos was a very handsome working setter with lovely dark eyes and soft expression. He brought to the table an amalgamation of dual purpose animals going back to the dual champion in both Norway and Sweden NIMBUS. (Ihave not heard anybody mention him on this site as i would have thought he was a very special dog.I feel that the efforts to have combined show qualities for field in these countries must help towards trying to maintain a good basis for an overall sound dog.

In Britain at the moment it seems that some eminent Field Triallers just want an ever increasing red flying machine.!!!!!,without regard for structure.

Over the past 35 years My mother has integrated nice looking field trial champioms into her bloodline so that we have a strong instinct for working even in our show stock .This is not altogether surprising as my Mothers foundation bitch came from Ireland and has incorporated Derrycarnes, Mullencluins Hartsbournes which she combined with our closely bred wendover original dog.

All the success my Mother and I had at trials was achieved by the 2weeks we spent on the grouse moors each year training our animals.The moors being about 260 miles away.Imagine the success we could have had if we had had facilities??????????
This will never happen, people want to win in the show ring and in the field. The dogs in the show ring are getting more extreme ie the coat is just ridiculous now, so much of it, that the structure of the dog seems to be lost when you put your hands on them, there is no depth or spring of ribs, but they are winning and that is the be all and end all to some, and some of these are big breeders so this becomes the type, the criteria, to have, I may not agree with it you many not agree but some of the ''top'' people DO so that is the ''way forward''
I said before that if you were to take one of the ''old type'' into the ring now you would be laughed out of it, perhaps not that, but you wouldn't win with it, and the price to enter and to go to shows is so high that we all go out there to WIN it would be a wast of your money, don't get me wrong I do agree with you but you have to look at the financial side of things. I myself would like to improve on what I have, I like the old fashioned type, a good head nice body structure and a good depth of chest AND GOOD BONE, these things seem to be lacking in our days. I just hope that I can keep all of this with a bit more coat. You know when I first started showing we just brushed our dogs before going into the ring nothing more now its bathing trimming preening etc etc etc. Dee and the girls
Unfortunatly you are very mistaken when you assume that the Irish red setter in Sweden is "held together" as a breed due to the field tests required to make up a show-champion. It is as much split-up in Sweden as anywhere else.
Do you think the split is as great in Sweden as it is in the UK or America?
Yes, I most certainly do Margaret.
It only takes one glance to see which type you are looking at...
Thank you, the last two, for taking some, of the flack........I do think that they have split and they probably will stay like that. It doesn't mean that they are any the worse for it as I said before ''Horses for causes'' we chose what kind of animal that we want for the job we want to do with it. And if you want to show only then get the 'show dog' if you want to work your dog then get a working dog, and if you want to have a go at both then go for it, but most of all you should love and cherish them for the beautiful 'people' they are. Dee
Regarding showing "old type" dogs and being laughed out of the ring: I don't believe this at all. If the dog was groomed to contemporary standards (not sculptured, shudder!), I think you would be surprised at how a good quality dog of the old type could do.

"I like the old fashioned type, a good head nice body structure and a good depth of chest AND GOOD BONE, these things seem to be lacking in our days"

You have to look for dogs like this. It's what I have, descending from old Draherin lines. Yup, Draherin within a 4 generation pedigree, usually you find that line beyond 5 generations. No one laughs at my dogs and they have done well in the ring. BIS, group placements, and puppy wins. Oh yes, and a Dual Champion too - who says the show bred dogs can't do it all?

Wendy Edgecombe
The Setters have been changed from their original function as a creature of endurance accompanying a hunter on foot when game was plenty (1800's) to a field trial speedster racing over a wide range searching for planted birds - hardly the same function of years long past. So the field dogs of today are just as much "tinkered with" as field folk often accuse show breeders of doing. If a showbred dog can earn advanced field titles, then obviously the dog has the drive, instinct, and build to do so. Most of them never get the chance to prove what they can do in the field, but that doesn't mean they can't hunt, nor that they won't pass the ability on. I am the breeder of Dual Ch. Can Ch. Highfeather Raisin 'N A Ruckus CD FDX MH - she is the only one of my breeding that has gotten the chance to show what she can do in the field. All show bred pedigree. She can do it all and has. She is a shining example that the "working ability and sound functional construction ... of show setters" is not lost. It's time to stop the denigration of show bred setters' field abilities based solely on their show background.

Wendy Edgecombe
Highfeather Reg'd.
AFAIK - North America is the only place that uses planted birds for P/S field trials. Planted birds or not, a good trial still tests a dog's endurance, intelligence, desire and nose. Yes there are some differences between hunting and field trials, but there are also a great deal of similarities.

There are also many field dog owners who hunt their dogs on foot in the pursuit of wild birds in manner that is almost identical to that of earlier times. For us the function of these dogs remains unchanged.
Why are my comments not at the end of the blog as they are the latest comments. I would hate to think that all my writing this sunday afternoon was wasted as it appears in the middle of the blog where it is unlikely to be seen.




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