2022 NGSPA Region 8 Championship
By Keith Richardson
The Region 8 Championship was a huge success, with a strong entry in all stakes with participants coming from all over. Most of the competitors also attended the NGSPA Hungarian Partridge Championship held previously.
The venue is not only scenic, but provides great objectives for dogs to hunt and display their ability to find and handle difficult game birds. The course is unlike any other in the country. The cast off is over several hundred yards of prairie to Suicide Hill, named for the large number of birds inhabiting it, and the fact that most infractions may be seen ¼ mile away. There are two large coveys on this hill, a low covey and a high covey. Then around the hill’s base there is a cove defined by Chukar Bench, a curving high-bench about a mile long with steep faces, large rocks, and dense shrub cover. We pass Derby Draw and continue along the base of the high bench to Shooting Dog Draw. We climb to the top of the bench and spend 15 to 20 minutes hunting the upper brushy edge of this steep chukar habitat. The next leg offers a run through the prairie on the left or a steep series of draws known as the Badlands. The High Gate is entered and the dog finishes in the prairie where its stamina and range are visibly demonstrated.
The dogs will experience running coveys, large explosive covey flushes of 20 or more, with birds flying back over their heads, and concentrations of “old” scent left by recent coveys which have flown off. The birds are healthy, young, and strong fliers. Any dog that completes this course is ready for Eureka!
We were pleased to have had several pros in attendance: Dan DiMambro, Josh Nieman, Rich Robertson and Art Armbrust. We were also happy to welcome a large number of amateurs: Dean and Diane Crabbs (OR), Keith Bryant (CO), Brandon Blum (CO), Keith Richardson (WY),Tom Kosmack (UT), Kirk Loftin (TX), Shari Tangsrud (MO), Hank and Dina Lewis (OH), and Joe Amatulli (CT). Terry Zygalinski (CA) brought a nice group of horses but left early and his assistant Lindsay Marshall did a fabulous job caring for the horses and getting them ready for the judges.
We brought in some top-notch judges with years of experience in many Championship venues: Ray Dalton (Fallbrook, CA), Chris (Tree) Meyer (Fountain, MN), Rich Burgi (Sandy, UT), and Diane Vater (Burgettstown, PA).
We are grateful for our sponsors. Purina provided financial support and the bags of Pro Plan for the winning dogs. Their support of the Purina Handler of the Year program is also very important as contenders often travel to Championships hoping to earn points. We encouraged all contestants to feed Purina. We also welcome the sponsorship of Sport Dog with training collars. Cash purses, gift certificates, Purina food, and Sport Dog collars made up the offering of prizes.
A special thanks to the organizational abilities and hard work of Keith and Bobbi Richardson. A big thanks also to the other folks who helped: Joe Frauendienst (many tasks including planting birds), Japheth Frauendienst, Gary and Chris Kercher (bird planter and paperwork). Marya Kerchner was our new cook and did a marvelous job. Several folks commented that they would like to take her home with them. Diane Crabbs was a phenomenal help to Marya along with Sylvia Peppers for most lunches. Our ranch crew helped in many ways often unseen, but always with a smile: Justin Peppers, Brittiny Habercorn, David Clifton. Kaitlin Guakel and Penny Robertson ran the dog wagon and booted all of the dogs.
The AKC ended the successful Dual Sanction program, so we ended retrieving stakes.
Amateur Shooting Dog Championship
By Keith Richardson
Judges: Don Dalton (CA) and Chris Meyer (MN). Starters: 22 GSPs.
Hi-N’s Allison Miranda (Allie), owned and handled by Dr. Kirk Loftin, was named Champion.
Allie ran in the first brace on day 2. On her cast off she and her bracemate took the fence-line road as so many dogs did and rather than heading up Suicide Hill, she rounded the corner and dropped into the Hun Habitat where she had a find at 5. She was returned to the Region 8 course and had a second find along the base of Chukar Bench at 12. Her third find was on top of Chukar Hill where she was brought back down to the base of the hill and cast off. She then worked the base of Chukar Bench and had a find at 30 at the corner of Shooting Dog Draw where she took the left-hand side of the draw forward for the two minute climb, rather than taking the cow-path to the top which is the common move. She was rewarded with a find at the crest of the draw where she was seen standing in a picturesque pose, and this move was impressive to the judges. She worked the rim nicely and had a big finish after the High Gate where she was found in the east end of the Habitat. Throughout her hour Allie showed excellent stamina. Her biddability was impressive as she required no hacking nor scouting. She hunted efficiently and fast, and her style and performance on birds was classic. All in all she presented the picture of a deserving shooting dog champion.
Twin Creeks Running Rocky (Rocky), owned and handled by Dr. Kirk Loftin, was named Runner-Up.
Rocky ran in brace 5 on day 1. He had finds at: 3,19,24,32,38,43,48. The first four were on the lower course and the last three were on the upper course after cresting Shooting Dog Draw. His style on birds was excellent and his work was classy. He required very little handling, no hacking, and only a little scouting. He hunted the steep hillside where his progress was slower than those dogs hunting the base because he had to negotiate rocks and thick shrubs. At times he got a bit “sticky”, whereas, the Champion moved more quickly through cover. After his find at 32 at the base of Shooting Dog Draw he also took the left hand side for the two minute move to the top rather than the cow path which was the most obvious way up. The judges liked this pretty move which showcased the dog as it worked its way through the cover and rocks. He then hunted the top edge of Chukar Bench on the way to Derby Rim, having three finds along the way. He then dropped into the Badlands and hunted deep into them, which also slowed down his progress vs. the Champion which spent more time in the open prairie. He stayed front but his finish seemed slower. Overall, he had a good shooting dog race with a lot of finds and quality bird work. His bracemate showed more speed.
Open All-Age Championship
By Keith Richardson
Judges: Don Dalton (CA) and Chris Meyer (MN). Starters: 25 GSPs.
BMB’s Samsquanch (Sam), handled by Brandon Blum, was named Champion.
Sam ran in Brace 3 on day 1. Sam had two finds at 20 and 27. Sam took the road around the base of Suicide Hill and was later seen at the far end of the Habitat. Scout and handler were able to get him back on course. He ran in their direction and then headed up Shooting Dog draw where he was found standing at 20 on the rim. Sam’s next find was on Derby Rim at 27. He then made it through the High Gate with a lot of time to spare which he spent on the prairie. He covered a lot of ground as he took the draw on the left side of the course to the Guest House and then he headed south to the Habitat where he finished at the far west gate. Sam required very little handling and scouting once he was pulled out of the Habitat. He was excellent on his birds with great style. He had a big, powerful finish.
Prairie Wind Bert’s Joke on Us (Bart), Rich Robertson, was named Runner-Up.
Bart ran in the first brace on day 1. He had four finds at 5,12,19,27. On the cast-off Bart took a fast, direct-line across the prairie to Suicide Hill where he had his first find at 5 on a covey of running chukar which he handled beautifully with high style. He again forsook the road to hunt the hills and soon disappeared over the next ridge. He was seen heading up Chukar Hill where he had his second find on another covey of chukar, which flushed over his head and were handled in fine form. Bart’s third find at 19 was at the end of the bottom course on the hill before the turn up Shooting Dog Draw. He was clearly seen on point about 1/4 mile away. A single bird was flushed with all in order. He was cast off up Shooting Dog Draw where he crested the top far ahead of the handler who found him standing a hundred yards from the top of the draw with his fourth find at 27. Handler cast him off into the prairie where he made a huge cast to the far hill near the highway (with dog proof fence) and hunted the contours forward to the fence line and up to the High Gate.
He jumped into the water and ran through the gate making a powerful cast forward along the rim and was seen sky-lined by Cathy’s Bench before disappearing. Handler just sat back and pointed him out rather than following the dog which provided an impressive sense of the range and power of his move. He was next seen taking the Habitat to the west where he was gathered up and headed north to the Guest House. It was an All-Age finish to an All-Age run with excellent bird-work. He needed very little handling or scouting and was in contact with his handler just enough. The judges felt his four finds slowed him down vs. the Champion with two finds.
Open Shooting Dog Championship
By Keith Richardson
Judges Diane Vater (PA) and Rich Burgi (UT). Starters: 27 GSPs
The judges found this to be a very competitive stake with a lot of good dogs. The grounds and birds were very challenging and set the dogs apart. Two dogs running together in Brace 11, the fifth brace of day 2, set the bar and rose above all of the rest with powerful shooting dog races, excellent bird work, application to the course and kind handling with little scouting.
PW Evolution’s Recreation (Spike), handled by Rich Robertson was named Champion.
Twin Creek’s Running Rocky (Rocky), handled by Dr. Kirk Loftin was named Runner-Up.
These two dogs were neck and neck through the entire brace with big powerful shooting dog races and a lot of quality finds, mostly on large coveys often exceeding 25 birds made more challenging by the wind which often forced the birds to fly back over the heads of the dogs. Spike had six finds at 3,9,15,21, divided find at 35, and 40. Rocky also had six finds at 10,20,25,30, a divided find at 35, and 40. Both had four finds on the lower portion of the course and two finds on the upper portion. Despite having a lot of finds their moves between finds were reaching and powerful intent on searching the cover and not running the roads or open country. They were always forward, trading the front between finds. After their last finds on Derby Rim they hunted the country until reaching the High Gate where they were watered and cast off into the prairie to show their finish. Both dogs took different paths strong with undiminished power, and to the front. Both ended up in the Habitat near time. Spike’s handler was able to pull him back up the hill and send him off with two minutes to go, and he showed strong to the front before time was called. Meantime Rocky was also seen in the Habitat, but the handler and scout both had a hard time getting him out of it. He was finally seen and was shown to the judges after time. This difference in the last five minutes is what differentiated the two dogs in this exciting brace.
Open Derby Classic
Judges Diane Vater (PA) and Rich Burgi (UT). Starters: 12 GSPs
We use the Hun course in the Habitat. It is a three mile section of creek lined with willows and dense cover, with open cut grass and plenty of objectives between the willow line and the fence-line. This course does not have cactus so dogs are not booted. It is an out and back course with opportunities to find chukar or huns. There is good visibility of the dogs, so that a dog with all-age potential can be seen making huge moves. All of the braces had bird contact.
PW Follow Me (Meme), handled by Keith Richardson, earned First Place
Meme had a strong race to the front hunting all the way. Her last move was about ¼ mile to the front on the final willow line before the end of the course. She locked up and it was a ride of several minutes to reach her while she stood stylish and patient. When the handler was near she released herself and followed the line around where she produced a covey of huns, but meantime a judge rode up a covey where she had been pointed. It was pandemonium for a minute with birds flying everywhere, but Meme was able to be gathered up and brought to the dog wagon at time.
Stoney Hill’s Lucky Charm (Jade), handled by Dr. Kirk Loftin, earned Second Place.
Jade had a big race and had a nice pattern on the ground, but she checked in a few times.
Caprock’s Bella’s Country Gamin (Bella), handled by Dr. Kirk Loftin, earned Third Place.
Bella started with less power but built as time went on and ended up having a very nice race.