Result: 6th NGSPA Open All-Age Invitational
Location: Gentry, Missouri
Post Date: Jan 31, 2024
Submitted By: Keith Richardson
NGSPA Open All-Age Invitational Winner (l-r): Alan Davison, Brandon Blum, Joey McAlexander, Josh Nieman with B M B's Free Ride, Keith Bryant, and Keith Richardson.
The sixth NGSPA Open All-Age Invitational was held on January 4-6, 2024, at Hell Creek WMA, Blue Mountain, Mississippi. These grounds are considered by many wide-traveling field trialers to be the best all-age grounds in the country. The MS Department of Wildlife, Fish and Parks has been kind enough to slot us into this time slot, which has proven to be very good over the years as far as weather is concerned. We are the only NGSPA event to be held here.
Hell Creek WMA is owned by the state of Mississippi and managed by their Department of Wildlife, Fish and Parks, led by Lynn Posey, Executive Director, and under the management of Nathan Blount, Regional Biologist. Nathan has been great to work with over the past six years. He helped us secure our time slot the first year and every year since. For most of our trialers who have never run here, these grounds were opened in 1999 and include dog kennels, a horse barn with 38 stalls, outside paddocks, a spacious clubhouse with cooking facilities, and a hard-pack lot with some electrical hook-ups. Good grounds are essential to a good field trial, and these grounds are exceptional. They are large enough to accommodate three hour-long courses, with plenty of challenges to test our bird dogs. They are multi-use grounds, and we field trialers share them with hunters and others who love the outdoors and appreciate God's creation. We value the commitment to multi-use recreation found in the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fish and Parks and are deeply grateful to them.
Although he retired in 2020, Jack Griffin remains the "face of the Hell Creek WMA." Recognizing the need to stay on top of the grounds, Nathan Blount has retained him to keep the grounds in top shape, which benefits the quail, deer, and turkey that call these grounds home, as well as the field trialers who hold Hell Creek in the highest regard. Jack shows up at every event and is always a big help in many ways, from opening gates to ensuring the facilities are in top shape. His work is extremely evident in the condition of the grounds, which keeps the forest from encroaching onto the grass bottoms and reducing game habitat. Thanks also to Jeremy Taylor and the Hell Creek Field Trial Club, who work to keep the area clean and in good condition during the year.
The grounds are varied and challenging, with a number of long bottoms, some piney woods, and smaller tree-lined fields. Despite some heavy rain before we arrived, Hell Creek dropped to a safe level so we could use all three courses. There is plenty of dense cover to hold quail. The grounds demand a powerful all-age dog that stays to the front, carries a line to the end, and seeks timely guidance from its handler. Absences of 10 minutes or more are common. The courses flow nicely but penalize dogs that get behind, won't carry a line, are seen too often, or won't respond to their handler.
We were blessed to have Korry Rinehart and Nick Thompson advise us on how to best utilize the grounds to produce three courses, and then they used their knowledge to plant quail in strategic places. All three courses provided their own challenges and opportunities to show and evaluate an all-age dog.
We were honored to have two outstanding judges: Joey McAlexander from nearby Holly Springs, Mississippi, and Keith Bryant from Denver, Colorado. Joey has won the National Amateur Invitational and has placed in many all-age championships. He is a third-generation dog man, and his father and grandfather have judged the Nationals at Ames. Keith has been running competitive German Shorthaired Pointers for many years and has won the Open Shooting Dog Invitational and other prestigious events. Both men are intimately familiar with the all-age dog and enjoy watching them perform. All participants agreed they did an outstanding job evaluating each dog in our event and selecting the All-Age Invitational Champion.
A talented crew came together to put on this quality event. Christy Harris and Tireca (ReRe) Turner teamed up this year to provide three wonderful meals each day. Both have prior experience cooking for this event, and many have said that our meals here are the best. Joe Frauendienst oversaw tons of details both in preparation for the event and throughout it, including dog wagon duties and many other preparation details. Fred Ryan pitched in to help with the administration responsibilities, and we all enjoyed the performance of our new auctioneer, Brandon Blum. We could not have put the event on without the oversight, attention to detail, and hard work of Bobbi Richardson and our Executive Assistant, Brittiny Haberkorn.
The grounds tend to be confusing for new handlers, and it was a tremendous help to have Korry Rinehart serve as lead marshal with assistance from Hunter.
Our incredible sponsors made this trial possible. Greg Blair and Purina support all three of our NGSPA Invitationals, which showcase the excellence of their product that is currently being fed to all dogs competing in this challenging endurance event. They provided important financial assistance, including 12 bags of product for the champion handler and 12 bags to auction, and helped with a Ross Young original oil painting of the champion gifted to the owner. Garmin provided an Alpha 10 tracking device to the champion's owner, and SportDOG gave us a tracker, the Tek 1.5. Ross Young donated much of his time because he is not charging full value for his truly fabulous works of art. The winning handler also earned a $5,000 purse.
All attendees received an exceptional package of gifts, including a warm and attractive Eddie Bauer vest with dog and owner's names and logo, a beautiful multi-use handmade knife, a dog vest with logo by Ruff Wear, and other items.
The Guidelines and Philosophy are essentially the same as the NGSPA Shooting Dog Invitationals. We ask the judges to pay close attention to our NGSPA All-Age Standard. The 12 top-winning all-age dogs from the past year are invited. There are three continuous days of running. The first two are hour stakes, and the third day is a 90-minute callback, which tests the endurance and stamina of the top dogs like no other trial in the GSP world.
The judges maintained a consistent pace, stayed on course, and expected the handler to "show them their dog," explaining that it was the handler's job to show his dog, not the judge's job to follow him around. Handlers were free to leave the "path" and do what they needed to show their dog to the judges. They wanted handlers to quickly gain the front after birdwork. They were both very experienced, and their depth of knowledge and "bird-dog sense" was apparent in their evaluations.
The judges had one dog that couldn't be beaten if it had an exceptional run in the callback. They decided to call back four dogs, with their number one dog in the first brace and holding the second brace in reserve. As things turned out, they decided to run all four dogs.
General Comments By The Judges
The judges said this was truly a premier all-age event. The grounds are totally different from any other NGSPA grounds and proved to present difficult challenges to dogs and handlers, accounting for a fair number of dogs that were gone for substantial amounts of time. The ground was firm the first two days, when we usually have quite a bit of mud. On the third day, after a front dumped a lot of rain overnight, the ground was a bit muddy but not too bad. There was plenty of moisture at dog height, and the dogs were unaffected by the wetness and cold. During the trial, it seemed that the dogs were all in excellent physical condition, and it was noted that no dog appeared to be struggling with fatigue at any point in all three days.
THE RUNNING OF THE DOGS
B M B's Free Ride (Lewey) is owned by Brandon and Jennifer Blum, handled by Brandon Blum, and scouted by Josh Nieman.
Day One: Lewey had two finds early in the brace and one NP at 47, plus an impressive back at time. He was absent a bit in the middle of his run but had a strong run overall.
Day Two: Lewey had finds at 2, 6, 16, 20, and 26, with an NP at 9. He had a flat spot in the middle but had a good ground race overall.
Day Three: This was a 90-minute callback, and Lewey had finds at 3, 13, and 45 with an NP at 23. His second find was difficult due to a prolonged flushing attempt. He started slow but built during the 90 minutes. He made three huge all-age moves and finished strong. The judges noted that Lewey is 10 years old and showed no sign of slowing down at any time during the three days.
Overall, Lewey's birdwork was flawless. His head and tail were high and staunch, with no movement on the flush. His intensity was remarkable, and he pointed his birds a long way off. He had two difficult finds with long flushes. During each of the three days, he tended to get stronger during the brace with big finishes. He was biddable and required only a little scouting. He was always to the front and exhibited all the qualities of a true all-age champion.
OTHER CALLBACK DOGS
Uodibar's Robbi Jo (Robbi), owned by Sherri Tangsrud, handled by Kirk Loftin, and scouted by Sherri Tangsrud.
Day One: Robbi had three finds early and ended the hour with a huge move, ending in a limb find at 50. She handled pretty well and was stronger as the hour went on. Her range was all-age, and she exhibited plenty of power and speed.
Day Two: Robbi had a find at 27 at the end of a huge move and finds at 40 and 44 with a back at 11. Her finish was not as strong as day one.
Day Three: Robbi was in brace No. 1 with the champion for their 90-minute run. She had a back at 45 but no finds and a lot of absences. She ran big, was a bit rogue, and required some aggressive scouting. She was stylish on her birdwork but not as strong as Lewey.
In looking at all three days, Robbi had plenty of power and range and was mostly to the front. The judges said that if she had done on the callback what she did on the first two days, she might have been named champion.
P W Bert's Joke On Us (Bart) is owned by Keith and Bobbi Richardson, handled by Rich Robertson Jr., and scouted by Nick Thompson.
Day One: The judges said that this run of Bart's was the best run of the entire trial. His first find at 3 required an extensive flushing attempt, and the first bird flushed right over his head, and the other took flight at his feet, during which he was impressively staunch with nice style. His second find at 45 was impressive. He made a huge, exciting move along a long edge where he disappeared in the distance. The handler rode to where he was last seen and eventually found him standing. Throughout the brace, Bart made powerful, fast monster moves and didn't need much handling or scouting. He was the clear number one dog on day one.
Day Two: Bart had a find early on and became a bit rogue after that, where he was brought from behind a couple of times. His range and power during the entire 60 minutes were the epitome of an all-age dog.
Day Three: Bart ran in the second brace during the callback. He took a wrong turn around the first corner after being cast off, and the handler could not call him around. He was not seen again.
Chicoree's Glitter and Gold (Glitz), owned by Dr. Fred Ryan, handled by Dan DiMambro, and scouted by Stegan Smith.
Day One: Glitz had finds at 6, 13, and 50, where she handled nicely during a very difficult relocation. She had a nice run but experienced a few flat spots. Glitz had excellent birdwork with classic style.
Day Two: Glitz was much stronger with finds at 2, 6 (at the end of a huge move), 9, and 26, with an NP at 40. She seemed like a different dog this day as she made some nice all-age moves, exhibiting more power and motivation. Glitz handled very kindly, and her birdwork was pristine.
Day Three: Overall, Glitz did a good job, but day one hurt her.
THE REST OF THE DOGS
B M B's Freeloader (Hewey) is owned by Brandon and Jennifer Blum and handled by Brandon Blum.
Day One: Hewey had one find and disappeared soon after that.
Day Two: He was scratched by the handler.
Chicoree's Riden High Trixie (Trixie), owned by Dr. Fred Ryan and handled by Dan DiMambro.
Day One: Trixie had two finds but came from behind once.
Day Two: She had two finds but came from behind twice.
Hi N's Allison Miranda (Allie), owned by Kirk and Larry Loftin, handled by Kirk Loftin.
Day One: Allie had two finds and one back.
Day Two: She was lost early in the brace.
Tulli's Faraway Giddyup (Fairgo), owned and handled by Joe Amatulli.
Day One: Fairgo had three finds at 19, 29, and 59. He pointed with intensity and high head and tail. Fairgo started slow but finished strong. The judges liked his first-day performance and rated him No. 3.
Day Two: Fairgo had a find at 20 and an NP at 12, then he checked out.
B D K's Twelfth Man (Aggie) is owned and handled by David O'Brian.
Day One: Aggie checked out at the cast-off and checked back in at 58.
Day Two: Aggie was gone for the hour.
High Standing Cuttin Edge (Woody) is owned by Anthony and Dayna Rusciano and handled by Dan DiMambro.
Day One: Woody was not seen.
Day Two: Woody was gone until 45, then showed up and had two finds at 48 and 54, displaying very nice style.
AO Tripps To Win (Tripp) is owned by Alan O. Davison and handled by Josh Nieman.
Day One: Tripp had a back at 18 and a divided find at 25. He was gone thereafter.
Day Two: Tripp had a find at 11 and was not seen again.
Stoney Hill's Pinnacle Dee (Dee), owned by Kirk and Larry Loftin and handled by Kirk Loftin.
Day One: Dee had a divided find at 28 and finds at 39 and 44. She did not have enough punch for the judges. Dee was beautiful on point.
Day Two: Dee showed up for the first time at 30 and had a find at 40 with a strong finish.
Myrtle, Miss., January 4
Judges: Keith Bryant and Joey McAlexander
NGSPA OPEN ALL-AGE INVITATIONAL [One-Hour Heats on Two Consecutive Days; Ninety-Minute Finals] - 28 German Shorthairs
Winner-B M B'S FREE RIDE, 1660979, male, by Kimber Tactical-Time To Pay The Piper. Brandon & Jennifer Blum, owners; Brandon Blum, handler.