Horseback Trials

What Are Horseback Youth Trials?

Horseback Youth Trials are where the handlers and the entire field trial party are on horseback: the brace of dogs, their junior handlers, the judges and the gallery follow a designated course salted with birds. (Youth trials can be but are generally not conducted on wild birds.) They are usually judged to Gun Dog Standards where the dog is not required to be steady to flush Dogs can be any recognized breed of pointing dog and should be animals that have experience being field trialed or hunted over and accustomed to being braced with another dog and the presence of horses. A retired field trial dog or older hunting dog will often be best suited for a young handler. Safe and experienced field trial type horses are a must. The handler should have an adult accompany them, acting as a kind of scout and to help keep the dog within reasonable range, assure safety and possibly help the handler mount and dismount. As much as possible, however, junior handlers should be encouraged to handle their dog, flush birds and shoot their blank pistol on their own. Much leeway must be given to the clubs as to how they see fit to conduct their trials to ensure the handlers enjoy and learn from the experience, whether they place their dog or not. Often, ribbons are awarded to all the kids who participated, in addition to those who won.