THE IRISH SETTER: AN ACTIVE, ARISTOCRATIC BIRD DOG!
The length of body is in the rib cage to sup- ply support for the body (topline), and his tail is set as an extension of his body. It is important to note that in his heritage, the level tail was a part of his purpose. In the 1800s, a setter would go on point, frequently “crouch” slightly, which was referred to as a “set,” and then the handler/ owner would approach and throw a net over dog and bird. Clearly, a level tail was impor- tant. There is, however, a difference between set and carriage. (NOTE... I have seen many proper tail sets, when the dog is in repose, that have the ability, when on point, to display a very high tail!) I will briefly mention the coat. Finish- ing a dog in the show ring, and running him at field events, is a matter of good scheduling. Field/Hunt Test events have limited weekends in Spring and Fall. As such, people make the choice of what to do when. My handler always bemoaned, “What did you do to his coat?” It wasn’t beaten up, but clearly a lot of it was left out on the field and in the brush. Consequently, we competed in the ring in summer, and tried to accomplish our hunting/field event titles in Spring and Fall. The aristocratic bird dog really comes together both in the ring and in the field when he covers the ground, displaying all of his ele- gance with effortless reach and drive, nearly clipping the grass with no wasted motion or over-lifting of the limbs. These are the same attributes, whether in the field or in the ring. It is this elegance of movement that drew land- owners and the Irish aristocracy to favor the Irish Setter over other breeds. There has always been evidence that one line leans toward breeding for show and another line leans toward the field. The advent of the AKC Pointing Breeds Hunt Tests in 1986 was some- thing of a game changer for our bird dogs; get- ting them back into the fields. You did not need
“Fiona” is a Dual! Formally known as DC Mythodical Fiona of Dualuc, she earned an Award of Merit at our breed’s national.
horses or the rig to pull them; just a pair of jeans, some sturdy boots, and off you go. You could approach hunt tests at the Junior level and gauge your dog’s interest or instinct. Many judges remarked, “Boy, I haven’t seen an Irish in the field for years.” Well, here we are! Our ranks, and our success at both field trials and hunt tests, have grown significantly over the past three decades. Today, our active, aristocratic bird dog has 26 Dual Champions and 59 Master Hunters (of which 22 are also breed champions) with many more in Senior and Juniors. Out in the field, we boast of 324 Field Champions and Grand Field Champions, and 113 Amateur Field Champions or Grand Amateur Field Champions. This year, Irish Setter breeders and owners celebrate their Irish Setters in the field with four events: The National Hunt Test and Walking Field Trial in Ohio, October 2 and 3. This is followed by Booneville, Arkansas, October 30 - November 7, for three championships: the National Field Trial, the National Amateur Field Trial, and our National Gun Dog Championship (walking). Come and join us! It’s the best view of the active, aristocratic bird dog—and where the standard comes alive!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Karolynne McAteer, Red Barn Irish Setters
Karolynne was born into Irish Setters, and has never been without one at the foot of her bed. Today her dogs compete in Conformation and in the Field. Karolynne sits on the Board of the Irish Setter Club of America, and is the AKC Delegate to the breed. Additionally, Karolynne sits on the Board of the American Kennel Club and several of its entities. She is an AKC Judge of all sporting dogs, and the Sporting Group. Karolynne directs daytime streaming at the AKC National Championship and for Westminster Kennel Club. When not dealing with something that barks, she can be found conjuring up something good in the kitchen.
232 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2021
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