A Retriever pigeon trial tests the dog and handler over land and water courses and the game retrieved can be either, thrown and marked by the dog or blind and unmarked by the dog. As the name suggests these trials are for the Retriever group of gun dogs.
Each section starts with a test of steadiness where the dog is walked up to a back peg on lead and then healed off lead to the front peg.The dog must remain steady as the game is released and shots fired by the handler until asked to retrieve the birds by the judge when the handler sends the dog. The dog must then retrieve each of the game within the allotted time going directly to each game and retrieving it in turn.
There are several levels of Retriever pigeon trial starting from puppy and advancing to open as the dogs gain proficiency.
Puppy The puppy marks and retrieves a single thrown bird over land and then retrieves a single thrown bird over water
Novice The dog marks and retrieves a thrown bird, then marks and retrieves a second thrown bird over land and water courses.
Limit The dog must mark and retrieve 2 birds thrown consecutively over land and water courses – a Blind bird can be used in place of a thrown bird.
Open An open trial can be up to three courses and a combination of thrown and blind birds up to 3 birds per course The dog must mark and retrieve up to 4 thrown and blind birds over land and water courses.
All Breeds Retriever An open retriever trial with land and water courses that all breeds of gun dog can compete in.
In all cases both the land and water course must be completed by the dog or it is eliminated from the competition.