YFTA’s mission is to grow youth field trials around the country and promote young people’s involvement with bird dogs. As in adult stakes, most youth trials in the southeast where they are most prolific, dogs are handled off horseback. Many of the participants are the children of parents who field trial, bird hunt, manage private quail plantations or shooting preserves. Many have access to horses and grow up riding.
Walking trials are increasingly popular around the country and in many locations, they have always been the norm (coverdog trials). If we are to grow youth trials, not having a horse or access to one should not be the obstacle that prevents a child from participating. The answer, we believe, is to promote walking stakes for clubs who are able and willing to host them.
This past summer YFTA had a productive discussion with National Bird Hunter’s Association (NBHA) president Ken Sauer on how our two organizations can be helpful to each other promoting youth participation in our sport. Founded in the early 1980s as a walking only field trial organization, NBHA is popular throughout the Midwest and has been expanding to many more areas of the country including the Southeast. This 2023-24 field trial season, YFTA will be actively promoting area clubs to offer both horseback and walking stakes, if possible.
If youth walking stakes are advertised as NBHA recognized, a youth handler (16 years or younger) who secures a placement, both handler and his/her dog will be awarded points towards NBHA’s Youth Handler and Youth Handled Dog of the Year Awards which are presented during their Annual Awards Banquet. NBHA recognized trials do not feature youth stakes. Instead, all youth handlers and the dogs they handle in any stake (open or amateur) are awarded points if they place. NBHA also has an Amateur Shooting Dog (JC@F) stake that is run to Gundog Standards where judgement ceases at flush.
As NBHA trials expand their territory, more opportunities will become available to youths who would like to handle their dogs off foot. Of course all youth handlers are welcome to enter their dogs in both walking and horseback stakes…giving them more opportunities to learn and win!
If your club is interested in hosting walking youth stakes and participating in NBHA’s Youth Award program, please contact YFTA or NBHA for more information. http://www.nbhadog.org