Last month the MNRC board shared with our members clubs an idea to change the qualifying process for the Master National annual event. After initially showing the concept of the event we heard back from many of you that supported the concept of holding Qualifiers and we also heard many suggestions for potential improvements to the plan. A special committee was formed to review the suggested changes.
This report will review the current plan that has incorporated those changes. First, let’s accurately define the problem that the Master National event currently faces. Simply put, there are too many dogs in one place at the same time. The Master National is the premier AKC Hunt Test and everyone wants to be there. We struggle to find grounds that can host the event and we struggle to find enough judges that can commit to the two weeks necessary to plan, set up, and judge the event. Then, because of the number of dogs in each flight, the judges are faced with a problem of time constraints to complete each series. This time problem is significant and over the last several years we have seen a gradual decay in the quality of the tests. It’s not really the judges’ fault. They just don’t
have enough time to test the dogs in a manner that was envisioned for the Master National event.
In January of 2023 the AKC met with the MNRC board and told us that they expected the MNRC to address the problem and correct the course that the event had taken. They told us that they had been approached by two separate groups that wanted to form a new club for the purpose of putting on a national event. AKC also told us they were mindful of their history with the Master National Retriever Club and wanted to protect that history and the accomplishments of all that have participated since our event first took place in 1991. But they reiterated that we must address the problem. Their message could not have been clearer: Fix the event or be prepared to lose it.
Over the last 20 years various strategies have been discussed and sometimes tried to make the National event more manageable. As recently as last year, 3 separate plans were laid out for the clubs to vote on to “fix the event”. They all failed with the overwhelming message sent back being, “Keep this a National Event.” The plan we have developed does exactly that as well as several other key improvements. It will allow better testing of the dogs, it will allow more people an opportunity to experience the Master National, and with fewer dogs the National event should be shorter and less costly.
AKC has reviewed this plan and likes it for several reasons. They believe that it solves the fundamental problem of too many dogs and that it will allow the testing of the dogs to be at a level that is worthy of a national event. They believe that this plan is one that will protect the MNRC’s ability to hold this national event and will preserve the 32 years of history with the AKC and the Master National Retriever Club.
Our plan is to create a series of Master National Qualifier tests across the country. Dogs that successfully pass the Master National Qualifier will then be eligible to enter the Master National Annual Event. We urge you to keep an open mind and carefully read details of the Master National Qualifier and Master National Annual Event Model. We are confident that you will see how much thought and planning has gone into this model. If you have questions, please contact a MNRC board member directly and do not
rely on “what you heard in the gallery” or “what you read on some forum”.
Time Frame for Eligibility to run a Qualifier remains current August 1-July 31. The current time frame to earn the 5 passes of August 1-July 31 will remain intact. The time frame for
passing a Qualifier will also be the same August 1-July 31. Dogs must first become eligible to enter a Qualifier and then pass a Qualifier during the same August 1-July 31 time frame. This change was requested by many participants that believed the original time frames were too long and kept pro run dogs on the trucks too long.
Eligibility To Enter a Qualifier reduced to 5 passes and dogs with a MNRC plate can run Qualifier. The current version of the plan reduces the number of required passes from 6 to 5. This was done to address the concern that we were adding another weekend test and making it more expensive to become eligible to run a Qualifier. The other change is a big one. Dogs that have previously passed the MNRC event and have earned a plate are exempt from having to accumulate the required 5 passes. These dogs are automatically eligible to run enter a Qualifier. We are confident that this change will be
MNH Dogs are Exempt from the Qualifier
MNH dogs will be exempt from the required number of passes and exempt from running a Qualifier. MNH dogs will continue to automatically eligible for the annual event.
Number of Qualifier Attempts remains at 1. We discussed the possibility of allowing two attempts at a Qualifier. While we understand why this was suggested, as we worked through the logistics of when and where the Qualifiers would be held, we realized quickly that adding a second attempt would make the plan too difficult to manage effectively; especially for the protection of host clubs to not be pressured to host multiple qualifiers. We also recognize that the Qualifier is a key element of this new national format. Allowing more than one attempt would lessen the significant importance of the Qualifier. We ultimately decided that the original idea of one attempt was the better solution.
The MNRC will choose the locations, dates, and judges for each Master National Qualifier. The MNRC will coordinate the event with a host club in a similar manner to what it currently does for the Master National Annual Event. The Master National Qualifier could be a standalone event, or it could be in conjunction with a host club’s normal weekend event. If the Master National Qualifier is held in conjunction with a regular club test, the Master National Qualifier could take the place of the regular Master test or could be a separate “Master National Qualifier” master flight. Clubs that host a Master National Qualifier will still have their full ability of holding licensed tests preserved.
It is the Master National Retriever Club event license that will be used by AKC for the event. The host club reimbursement package has not been finalized. However, it is the position of the Board that each host club will be compensated appropriately to ensure they do not lose money by hosting. A few ideas being discussed include a ‘minimum compensation monetary value’ as well as a plan that would ensure Clubs that host a Qualifier will have 100% of their expenses reimbursed and receive $22 per dog for hosting
the event. $2 of the $22 is to recognize that some expenses are too tedious and difficult to document.
Dogs that pass the Master National Qualifier will be credited with one pass and will be eligible to enter the Master National Annual Event.
What will the Master National Qualifier look like?
Host Clubs will be permitted to limit entries based upon their abilities to accommodate flights of dogs. We heard from many clubs that they needed this ability. We also will consider mid-week tests for Qualifiers, but the preference is for weekend tests. We recognize that in some cases, mid-week tests may be appropriate. We do not anticipate this change adversely impacting our abilities to schedule Qualifiers.
If a host club requests to limit entries, an amateur set aside will be available. Participants will use the MNRC entry system in a manner like the Master National Annual Event. Judges
for the Master National Qualifier will come from a different region. Qualifiers will uphold the Master National Standard and be a series of tests that could be seen at the Master National Event.
Dogs that pass their Master National Qualifier are eligible to enter the Master National Annual Event.
The Master National Annual Event will be held in the traditional time frame and moves from Region to Region as it does now. Pheasants may be used on land tests. Since the flights will have fewer dogs, the judges will have more time to set up challenging tests. Expect to see test setups that will test dogs to the maximum of the standard as set out by AKC. To obtain the maximum of the standard there shall be such utilization of terrain, bird placement, and natural conditions to provide a significant challenge to the abilities of a master hunting dog. We anticipate that the Master National Annual Event will be completed in fewer days than it does currently.
We have included a series of Q&A that should help answer most of the other questions that might arise as you think about this plan. If you have a question that is not included in the Q&A, please contact a member of the MNRC Board of Directors.
We have been discussing this plan with representatives from member clubs for several weeks now and we are already getting commitments from clubs to host one of the Qualifiers.
In conclusion we urge you once again to read the attached Q&A document. We would also like you to discuss this plan with your MNRC regional board members. We are confident that not only will this plan “fix the event”, but it will also dramatically improve the quality of testing. We showed this plan to AKC several weeks ago. It has their approval, and they also agree with us that the quality of testing will be enhanced because of its implementation.
Questions and Answers
Why are you making this change in the Master National Event?
It’s obvious to all that participate in our event that the number of dogs that compete has grown since AKC started awarding the MNH title. Because of the number of dogs, we are extremely limited to the locations around the country that can support the event. Additionally, it is very difficult to maintain the quality of the testing that was envisioned for this National event. In January of 2023, at the Board of Directors winter board meeting, the AKC met with the board to tell us of their extreme concern about the quality of the event and that, from the standpoint of AKC, something must be done to address the problem. They also told us that they have received 2 inquiries about starting another National Retriever Hunt Test club. We learned later that AKC was considering no longer awarding the MNH title to dogs that pass the Master National event 3 times. Clearly, if we want this event to continue, we must take decisive action or we stand to lose 32 years of rich history and tradition.
What makes this proposal different from what has been considered in the past.
Last year the proposals attempted to split the event into 2 or 4 smaller regional events with dogs being limited to where they could go. One proposal had the event being held in one location, with the regions coming in at different times to run the event. None of these proposals came anywhere close to having support from the MNRC Member Clubs. The one thing that was heard loud and clear by everybody concerned was that we needed to keep the Master National Annual Event as a national event.
This proposal is completely different from anything that has ever been considered before. It keeps the National aspect of the event intact and it will still move around the country as it does now. The Master National Qualifier will give more dogs around the country an opportunity to participate in the Master National program without having to make the commitment to attend the Master National Annual Event.
The Qualifiers will be held in areas and timeframes that will be fair to dogs in the north and the south.
How does my dog qualify?
Dogs must earn 5 passes at MNRC Member Club tests from August 1 – July 31. Also any dog that has passed a Master National Annul Event is exempt from the 5 pass requirement. These dogs then become eligible to run a Master National Qualifier that will be held from August 1 – July 31 There will be at least 2 qualifiers in each of the 4 Regions with one located in the north part of the region and one located in the south part of the region. Dogs that pass their Master National Qualifier are eligible to enter the Master National Annual Event.
Why can my dog only enter one Qualifier.
The purpose of the Master National Qualifier is to conduct multiple tests, around the country, so that the dogs that go on to the participate in the Master National Annual Event have already undergone more stringent testing than what is seen at the usual Master test. The Master National Qualifier is not intended to be an extension of the weekend testing format where you just keep running until your dog is qualified.
Will this limit the number of regular Master tests a Club can hold?
No. The Qualifier will use the MNRC club number from AKC and the host club will be able to hold as many tests as they currently are allowed by the AKC.
What can I expect at the Master National Qualifier?
Judges will test and evaluate the dog’s based on the AKC Guidelines and requirements for a Master Hunter. The test will be the traditional weekend format with Master level test setups that will test dogs to the higher end of the standard as set out by AKC. Judges are expected to utilize terrain, bird placement and natural conditions in designing their test so a dog’s abilities can be evaluated beyond the minimum requirements.
Can I run a Master National Qualifier in a different Region from where I live?
What if I enter a Master National Qualifier and I must scratch for being in season or a medical reason?
Scratches for injury/in season before or during a Master National Qualifier will allow the dog to enter another Master National Qualifier, provided the customary vet letter is received by the time prescribed in the event premium.
What incentive is there for clubs to host a Qualifier?
The host club reimbursement package has not been finalized. However, it is the position of the Board that each host club will be compensated appropriately to ensure they do not lose money by hosting. A few ideas being discussed include a ‘minimum compensation monetary value’ as well as a plan that would ensure Clubs that host a Qualifier will have 100% of their expenses reimbursed and receive $22 per dog for hosting the event. $2 of the $22 is to recognize that some expenses are too tedious and difficult to document.
How will judges be selected?
The MNRC Board of Directors will select the judges for the Master National Qualifier in the same manner they select the judges for the Master National Annual Event. Judges for a Master National Qualifier will come from a different region.
This looks like it is going to cost the amateur more time and money than they currently spend attending a Master National event.
We have discussed this plan with many amateurs that attend the Master National. Every one of them, after examining the plan, has concluded that it will cost them less money and time than they currently are spending. They all believe that the Master National Qualifier will take the place of a weekend test that they usually run. We also believe that the Master National Annual Event will be shorter in duration and will require less time off from work.
What is the Master National Annual Event going to look like?
Expect entries between 600-640 dogs which was the size of the event 10 years ago. There will still be an Opening Banquet, the MNRC store, Registration and Check-In, the Annual Meeting, and the Workers Appreciation Event.
Will this allow more clubs and locations the ability to host a Master National Annual Event.
Yes, because the number of dogs participating at the annual event will be less, many more clubs will have the ability to host the event because their available grounds will support this new event framework.
How are you going to keep the Master National Qualifier from having the same problem as the current Master National Annual Event, that is too many dogs. Master National Qualifier flights will be limited to flights of 100 dogs and testing over three days. We
have extensive data on where dogs come from and how the movement of the annual event across the country increases or decreases the number of dogs participating. We know that some areas of the country will always have a Master National Qualifier regardless of where the event is held. We also know that some Regions will support more than two Master National Qualifiers in some years.
Where will I enter a Master National Qualifier?
The dates and locations for the Master National Qualifiers will appear on the Master National home page. This information will start appearing after August 1. You will enter these tests using the Master National Entry System in a manner like past Master National events.
I still have some questions. Who should I contact?
You should contact one of the MNRC board members from your region. Their contact information is listed on the Master National Retriever Club website.
Board of Directors