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AKC field trials are a hunting competition where the handler can either be on foot or on horseback. The dogs are run in braces (pairs), and must meet minimum performance standards and beat the other dogs entered in the same stake (class) in order to be considered for a placement. The dogs are run in braces (pairs) for 20-30 minutes over a course where birds have been turned loose.
There are performance expectations for each level of competition and dogs are removed or "picked up" from the course if they fail to meet certain criteria. Only one dogs wins each stake, but there may be four placements and awards of merit. Each first or second place, depending on size of entry, earns points toward AKC field titles.
Field Trials are a very competitive yet good-natured sport that looks for the best of the best during that particular stake. The objective is to identify high-class bird dogs. The dogs may compete against all other pointing breeds, or the host club might only allow other Vizslas to compete.
Field trials have juvenile and adult levels of competition, defined by age of the dog and performance standards. Young dogs are generally judged on potential and more mature dogs, usually over the age of 2 years, are expected to stand on point, be steady while a bird is flushed and retrieve the bird if the competition includes shooting by official gunners. If dogs win the required number of competitions, they are awarded Field Championship (FC) or Amateur Field Championship (AFC) titles (or both.) If a dog achieves both a Field Championship and a Conformation Championship (show CH) it will be recognized as a "Dual Champion", a very difficult title to achieve. Fewer than 200 have done this in the 50 year history of the breed. Field trials can be found almost every weekend of the year in some area of the country and generally follow cooler weather and vegetation growth conditions.
Field trials have five categories of competition (Puppy, Derby, Gun Dog, Limited Gun Dog, and All-Age), and each of these stakes can be offered in Open (professionals allowed) or Amateur. These events can be found almost every weekend somewhere in the country. Points are awarded for wins (depending on the number of entries, points may be awarded for 2nd or 3rd placements). Dogs awarded enough points will earn their Field Champion (FC) or Amateur Field Champion (AFC) titles.
Complete Field Trial regulations can be found on the AKC web site.