Terrier trials are nothing like dog shows you see on TV.
Spayed and neutered "just pets" have gone to the JRTCA Nationals and come home champions. Requirements are minimal...you must
own a Jack Russell Terrier, you must be a member of JRTCA (available at the trial site), and you must want to have fun with
Terrier trials are about fun.
Classes offered at this trial will be Conformation, Racing,
and Go To Ground. If you've attended a fun day, you've participated in Racing and Go To Ground already. If your dog can walk
on a leash, you can enter conformation. If you would like to enter but are unsure what classes you can/should enter, email
or call me or ask at the registration table at the trial. We'll gladly help you figure out which classes to enter and get
you ready to enjoy your first terrier trial!
Each day is a new trial. We invite you to come watch the
events on Saturday and see what terrier trials are about and then you can enter for Sunday. A brief description
of the events offered follow.
Conformation classes are judged much like any other dog show. The winner is the terrier that most closely
matches the breed standard. In addition to conformation and movement, the terrier is judged on temperament; as in all things having to
do with Jack Russells, the best working terrier is being sought. JRTCA sanctioned conformation judges are required to have
an in-depth, first-hand knowledge of terrier work, and understand the importance of the physical characteristics necessary
for a terrier to be useful for the work he was bred to do.
There has been a great increase in the conformation showing of Jack Russells in recent years. Conformation
exhibiting has been very effective in the U.S. in promoting correct conformation according to the breed standard, thereby
improving the quality of the breeding stock in this country. However, while showing is beneficial to the breed in that respect,
the JRTCA designs its trials to keep the working aspects of the terrier in the forefront.
Tips on Conformation Showing
- Make your terrier comfortable on a leash and with strangers
- The condition of your terrier plays an important role in how well your terrier will do in the conformation
- When you are asked to walk your terrier across the ring, walk him. Set your sights on where you want to go
and walk there, briskly. Don't have the leash strung up tightly.
- Keep your attention on what the judge is doing. When the judge is busy, relax your terrier. When the judge
is at the end of the individual examination, get your dog's attention and make sure he's standing alertly.
- No matter what your terrier does when you are showing him, do not reprimand - this will get his tail down.
- Make sure there is adequate space between your terrier and the ones on either side.
- Be a good sport and congratulate those who beat you. If you're a winner, win with dignity.
Go To Ground:
Everything about the Jack Russell has fox hunting in mind....coloring, conformation, character,
and intelligence. The body is compact, of totally balanced proportions, the shoulders clean, the legs straight, and most importantly,
a small chest (easily spannable by average size hands at the widest part behind the shoulders). The Jack Russell must also
be totally flexible, allowing him to maneuver underground. This conformation allows the terrier to follow his quarry down
narrow earths. The fox is a good model for the Jack Russell-where the fox can go, so must the terrier. Although originally
bred for fox hunting, the Jack Russell is a versatile working terrier to a variety of quarry including red and grey fox, raccoon
The Go-To-Ground (GTG) trial event was designed to simulate and test a Jack Russell's ability to hunt
and work underground. It is a matter of opinion as to whether a good Go-to-Ground terrier will make a good hunting terrier
(or visa versa). It is the closest some terriers may ever get to any type of "work". Although it really is more or less a
game for the terriers, it is a good training step towards the day your terrier may do real earthwork. It stimulates the natural
instinct to do what they were bred for, to hunt!
The terrier is placed in front of an artificial hole (the tunnel is usually made of wood and appears
to be an opening to the earth). All four of the terrier's feet must be touching the ground. The GTG judge will instruct the
handler to release the terrier when the handler and terrier are ready. The terrier will move through the tunnel as fast as
it can. The end of the tunnel has a grate over the opening to keep the terrier from attacking the quarry - a rat in a cage.
The GTG judge times the terrier from the moment it is released until it begins to "mark" the quarry (i.e., bark, whine, scratch,
etc). Depending upon the class entered (novice, open, championship), the terrier must mark the quarry for a predetermined
period of time (usually 30 seconds or a minute). If the terrier successfully marks the quarry, the time is recorded and the
terrier is eligible for a ribbon. If the terrier is unsuccessful in marking the quarry, the time does not count and the terrier
GTG Trial Certificate
To obtain a Trial Certificate after scoring 100% in an Open class at a JRTCA sanctioned trial, the
owner of the adult terrier shall submit a copy of the qualifying score sheet, along with a $20 filing fee, to the JRTCA office.
The score sheet is good for the life of the dog and may be submitted with the registration application if the terrier is not
already registered with the JRTCA.
Racing is perhaps the most exciting of all the terrier trial events. There are two
types of races: flat and hurdles (also known as Steeplechase). A JRTCA sanctioned track must be minimum of 150 feet long (200+
feet is recommended), and is a straight course with a starting box at one end and a stack of straw or hay bales with a hole
in the middle (the finish line) at the other. A lure (usually a piece of scented fur) is attached to a piece of string that
is pulled along by a Lure machine. The dogs are muzzled for safety (theirs and the catchers). The first dog to cross the finish
line (behind the bales at the entry to the catch pen) is the winner. That is not always the dog that was first as they entered
the hole in the hay bales! Each race may be a series of heats, semis, and finals. A championship race is run in each division
and is a competition between the winners of the flat and hurdle races. To qualify for the championships those dogs MUST have
run in BOTH their flat and hurdle races.
How to Train Your Terrier to Race
You can start race training of your terrier in your own back yard. The idea is to get them used to
chasing a lure so that when they are in a real race, they will know what to do. You can use the following items to perform
- String and Lure - Tie a piece of fur (a sock will work also) to a 20 foot piece of string
- Racing Muzzle - to get your terrier used to wearing one
- Tease the terrier with the fur (to get its attention)
- Run away from your terrier with the lure trailing behind you
- Let your terrier catch the fur so that it will be a satisfying experience for it. Repeat these steps
- Hurdles - Build simple hurdles from inexpensive PVC piping. Drag the lure over the hurdle to get
your terrier to jump. It works!
- The best practice for racing is to actually run your terrier in a real race (i.e., with other terriers,
muzzles, spectators, etc). Attend a fun day for good practice.
- Start your terrier racing at a young age (4 months). Don't let them race over large hurdles since
their joints are still growing!
- Don't let your terrier overheat.
- Use a "softie" muzzle or a basket muzzle; mickey and figure-eight muzzles are illegal as the terriers
are unable to breathe properly
- Practice makes perfect - rarely does a first time racing terrier do well. Normally they either sit
in the starting box, play with their muzzle, or run the wrong direction. Don't quit after the first failure. Jack Russells
are smart and catch on quickly.
- Remember that you are there to have fun - not to argue. Let's make sure racing doesn't get a bad
name. It's an exciting event and tempers can flare. Remember to thank the catchers and the racing staff. They've got a tough
- Allow your terrier to watch some of the races to get excited. After awhile, you probably won't have
to do this since your terrier will know when it's race time.
- If your terrier starts a fight, work to stop this behavior immediately. Fighting terriers are dismissed
since they can disrupt the outcome of the race and are a danger to the other terriers and the catchers.
- If you think your terrier is close to moving up to the next height division (i.e., over 12 1/2 inches),
get a JRTCA height card. It'll save you a lot of hassles at trials. To get a height card, you need to have two sanctioned American
Conformation Judges measure your terrier.
- Cool down your terrier after each race (some owners will "dunk" their terriers in a large barrel
of water after each race). You can use a mist spray bottle and offer your terrier plenty of water.
- Be sure to remove the terrier's leash and regular collar before you put it in the starting box.
- Have a friend or family member help you when you race your terrier (i.e., help with muzzle, pick
up terrier after the race).
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