AKC Retriever Hunting Test Advisory Committee (RHTAC) Report

Master National Retriever Club’s Annual Event

October 26, 2023, Thomasville, Georgia
Submitted by Jack Combs, Chair RHTAC

On behalf of this committee, I express our thanks to the MNRC Board and the American Kennel Club for the opportunity to make this report. There are copies of the charge, responsibility and authority for the committee, its membership and this report available online at the Master National web site. It is not designed to be a ‘gripe’ session but rather tries to look at the overall benefits of any potential change to the entire program. The committee has operated mostly by e-mail and conference calls this year and has received an abundance of submissions. I know this info is “old hat” to some of you but it is included here for new participants in the sport that might be here for the first time.

At this time, I’m honored to introduce the committee members who are here today. I’m asking each of those in attendance to stand. (Introduce each as listed on the July, 2023 Roster) You’ll note this committee is annually appointed by the AKC’s Executive Vice President for Sports & Events, Mr. Doug Ljungren in consultation with AKC Field Director, Retrievers Sporting Group, Mr. Russ Reavis. The AKC has also appointed additional field Representatives: Jerry Mann, David Christianson, Kevin Bunnell, Trish Jagoda, and Greg Lister, so the good news is that we’ll be seeing more AKC reps in the field at our events. We applaud these appointments and welcome each of our friends from the AKC.
The committee will address submissions by any individual involved in the retriever hunting test program, any club that holds licensed AKC events or from the AKC. Only written submissions to the committee are accepted to reduce the chance of misinterpretations.
The submissions are discussed in detail and a committee decision is reached. The decision may be by ‘consensus’ (all five agree) or by ‘majority’ (4-1, or 3-2 vote). Once the committee has agreed on a recommendation, it is sent to AKC. AKC can accept, reject, or modify the recommendations. Additionally, the AKC can implement changes in the regulations and guidelines without consulting the committee. The committee has operated openly and sincerely appreciated each submission.

I know our time on the program is limited, so if you have questions, any member of the committee will be happy to discuss them with you later.
Since our report last year, the Committee has reviewed multiple submissions and recommended only two significant changes in the Regulations.
NOTE: It is expected the regulations will be used in good faith, good sportsmanship, with the intent of the regulation fulfilled and not abused or used as not intended.

Since our last report (September 29, 2022) the committee has reviewed or is reviewing many issues submitted that requested the regulations be reviewed and/or revised. Samplings of issues include:

 Prohibit a “client” or kennel help from judging their professional trainer’s dog(s) within one year of the last date the client and professional trainer did business
together. (Committee unanimously recommended this suggestion to the AKC.)
 The maximin number of dogs an amateur can enter or run in the Amateur Set Aside Process is three dogs. (Committee unanimously recommended this suggestion to the AKC.)
 Judges are only allowed to judge a limited number of times in one region.  Perhaps no more than 2 events at a particular level in a region, and perhaps a limit on the total number of times a judge is allowed to judge in a year, perhaps 5 times per level. (Committee will not recommend these suggestions to the AKC.)
Concern over excessive passing rates & quality of judging on master dogs at hunting tests (Committee concurs & is working on it as is AKC)
 Change handlers with more than three dogs in a Master test a higher entry fee. (Committee will not recommended this suggestion to the AKC.)
 Judges shall call the number of the dog ordered to retrieve or say “Dog”, (Committee
unanimously recommended this suggestion to the AKC.)
 “The blind must be clearly marked with a conspicuous object.” (Committee unanimously
recommended this suggestion to the AKC.)
 “Blinds shall not be run between marks in Senior Hunting Tests unless they are run first.”
(Committee unanimously recommended this suggestion to the AKC.)
 Honoring. In Senior and Master Tests, every dog shall honor in at least one hunting situation involving the retrieve of a marked fall(s) by remaining on the line off-lead while the working dog is sent for a marked retrieve. dog retrieves, unless otherwise directed or until dismissed by the Judges.

Please note that with the exceptions noted above, these are samples of issues submitted to the committee, so please don’t leave here saying they are new regulations. Each is being reviewed and is being discussed but they are not rule changes at this time!
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to each of my colleagues on the committee. They have diligently addressed each submission with the goal of improving the retriever hunting test program, and I’m honored to serve with them.

I would like to thank each of the submitters for their interest in improving the retriever hunting test program; the vast majority were well thought out and presented well. We also express our deep appreciation to Doug Ljungren, Russ Reavis and Caroline Murphy at AKC for their superb collaboration on difficult challenges. Without exception, each has been open minded, progressive in their thoughts and strongly supportive of changes that will improve the program.
The AKC notifies the Club ‘secretary of record’ of AKC decisions on new/revised regulations via e-mail.

Please ensure your club’s records are updated with the AKC. Please ensure the AKC has current contact info on your club secretary. The committee reminds you that any regulation change implemented will be carefully monitored and, if deemed appropriate, additional recommendations will be made.

Thank you again for listening and we wish you and your dog the very best in the week ahead.
Members of the RHTAC:
Robert (Bob) Montler, Eastern Time Zone
Carol Hynes, Central Time Zone
Rex Gibson, Mountain Time Zone
Laura Judd, Pacific Time Zone
Jack Combs, Chairman, North Carolina
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the RHTAC by Jack Combs

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