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) to be considered for a placement. The dogs are run in braces for 15 to 60 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 specific criteria. Only one dog wins each stake, but there may be four placements and awards of merit. Depending on the size of entry, each first or second place 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 allow only other Vizslas to compete.
Field trials have juvenile and adult competition levels defined by the age of the dog and performance standards. Generally, young dogs are judged on potential. More-mature dogs, usually over the age of two 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 win a Field Championship (FC) or Amateur Field Championship (AFC) titles or both. For dogs who earn both a Field Championship and a Conformation Championship (show CH), they will be recognized as a “Dual Champion,” a very difficult title to achieve. In some areas of the country, field trials are held almost every weekend of the year and often follow cooler weather and vegetation growth conditions.
Field trials have five categories of competition (Puppy, Derby, Gun Dog, Limited Gun Dog, and All-Age). 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 second or third placements). Dogs awarded enough points will earn their Field Champion (FC) or Amateur Field Champion (AFC) titles.