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The Gundog – in the field and in the showring

The Gundogs and their owners together with speakers,
Iams staff and Three Ridings Labrador Club officials

This was the theme of the seminar held at The Cedar Court Hotel, Wakefield, hosted by the Three Ridings Labrador Club. Around 50 people settled down to listen to some stimulating presentations by a panel of speakers, who each contributed a different dimension to the day, which was generously sponsored by Iams Eukanuba.

The first speaker was David Morgan, a Veterinary Surgeon employed by the Iams Company, who was flown in from the headquarters in Geneva to give a presentation on Nutrition in the sporting dog, both for growth of young animals and for the endurance required when working. Potentially a dry subject, the speaker was both knowledgeable and entertaining, illustrating his talk with some superb photographs. Of particular interest to the audience were the research-based findings about the recommended levels of calcium in the diet in relation to growth disorders such as Hip Dysplasia or OCD.


The differences in the requirements of sprinters versus endurance athletes were also very informative, the endurance athletes in this case being sled dogs and Pointers in the research referred to, the conclusion being that a high level of fat in the diet was the most important source of energy for this kind of muscle activity.

The next presentation was from Kelly Kelly of the Kelford Gundogs in North Wales. Kelly is a canine behaviourist and HPR trainer, owning German Wirehaired Pointers and her talk was aimed at reducing the great divide between show and working animals in many of the gundog breeds, where physical appearance and temperament can differ so much. She advocated encouraging show and working gundog enthusiasts to find some common ground when considering breeding programmes, in particular the tempering of "hot" working lines by introducing blood from more steady show-bred stock in order to produce more biddable and controllable gundogs, whether these be for the working or pet market. Her presentation was illustrated by some "live models", two 10 month old GWP puppies who conformed to the breed standard and were described as having suitable temperaments for work.

To emphasise the point that working gundogs could be produced to their respective breed standards, there were also three examples of other breeds, the representatives of which were all successful in the field and in the show ring. The Flatcoated Retriever bitch was bred from show stock and is successfully shown at Championship Show level, however, her owner recognised the bitch's natural working ability, trained her and now works her on shoots as a picking-up dog. The English Springer Spaniel again was primarily bred for showing, but really enjoys his work; he recently gained his Show Gundog Working Certificate and has 2 Reserve CCs to his name as well as many other wins. The German Shorthaired Pointer has two Field Trial awards and was bred primarily as a working dog, however, he is shown regularly at Championship Show level and won two classes at Crufts this year.

The final speaker for the afternoon, after a superb carvery lunch, was Anne Greeves, the Kennel Club's Field Trials Manager. She gave a very interesting and amusing talk, accompanied by some excellent photographs from Field Trials and competitions over the years. She outlined her own professional background and how she had come to work for the Kennel Club, her personal interest in working gundogs through her husband's involvement in Field Trials as handler and judge, and her mission to improve communication with the grass roots competitors. There was an explanation of how the new Working Gundog Certificate had been developed and of future plans to involve young people more in the working gundog scene. Many in the audience were very appreciative of the opportunity to meet the "human face" of the KC Field Trials department and get direct answers to the questions raised.

The day could not have taken place without the generous sponsorship from Iams or the work put in by the committee of the Three Ridings Labrador Club and it is hoped that more events such as this can take place in the future.

Special guests at the seminar were these dual purpose gundogs: l-r: GSP 'Asa' with Stevie Allerton, ESS 'Sonny' with Ann Geddes, F/C Retriever 'Vicki' with Gary Ellison, GWP 'Jester' with Andy Povey and GWP 'Sommes' with Lyndon Ford