The second annual youth field trial hosted by the GA/FL Invitational Field Trial Club was again held on the beautiful Hale’s Place Plantation in the Red Hills area north of Tallahassee, Florida. The first event was held in the spring of 2019, last year’s cancelled due to Covid. The club and those who participated are grateful for the generosity of landowners, the Chuck Roberts family to allow the youngsters to handle their charges over their quail-rich private hunting facility. Thanks to the determination of club members, many of who are professional dog trainers/plantation managers, to make sure kids — theirs as well as any others — are exposed to the wonderful world of bird dogs, quail hunting and pointing dog field trials. Special thanks to Jason Loper, the hands-on force behind this event. The trial is open to any youth handler under the age of 17. Thanks to this year’s judges, Tommy Rice and Sean Derrig — neither men require an introduction — both share in their dedication to bring youngsters to our great sport.
The trial began Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the GA/FL Invitational Derby stake held nearby at Seminole Plantation. It was a hot afternoon but the heat and accompanying “gnats” proved no kind of deterrent to the handlers, their dogs, the judges and large gallery of onlookers. Five braces were drawn of ten different dogs and handlers. At the conclusion, the judges named the following placements:
1st: Foshalee Lou, Wyatt Rehberg, handler
2nd: Mays Pond Kaye, Dalton Drew, handler
3rd: Hale’s Place Hart, Noah Popiel, handler
Honorable Mention: Lynn, Paxton Horne, handler
The winning handlers received trophies, beautiful leather halters courtesy of judge Tommy Rice and a drawing was held for a leather breast strap which was won by Paxton Horne. No participant left empty-handed; Hale’s Place provided engraved caps and bags to all the handlers and YFTA provided decals.
Anyone who has watched these kids at area youth trials over the past couple of years cannot help but be astounded and impressed at how much they have improved and how much confidence they exhibit. Many are already excellent riders and have no qualms handling dogs that range out of sight in pursuit of birds. Some are also scouting for other handlers, giving them to an even greater understanding of how dogs use the wind to hunt and where to look for them on point.
Though the young handlers certainly take the challenge of competition seriously, they also exhibit excellent sportsmanship and shear enjoyment of the animals and the outdoors. The GA/FL trial was marked by one particularly comical incident when eventual first place winning handler, 9-year old Wyatt Rehberg, had the gallery in stitches. He spun around as his dog suddenly pointed a sleeper from the covey he had just flushed. “Hands Up!”, he hollered at the single bird as it made its getaway!
Thanks to everyone who came and supported the young handlers. Sound like a great time? If you weren’t there, please come join us next spring and support youth field trials!
1st. Foshalee Lou, Wyatt Rehberg, handler. 2nd. Mays Pond Kaye, Dalton Drew, handler. 3rd. Hale’s Place Hart, Noah Popiel, handler
For more photos, please visit 2021 GA/FL Invitational FTC’s Youth Trial