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Road Trial

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Animated Running Dalmatian

About Road Trails

Peggy Ann Strupp

A Dalmatian Road Trail is a field trial to test the ability of a Dal to "run with the horses". Dogs are judged in off-leash obedience exercises while the handler is on horseback, and then must complete a 12.5 or 25 miles endurance test to earn the title of "Road Dog" (12.5 miles) or "Road Dog Excellent" (25 miles). Although the American Kennel Club supports the idea of a Dalmatian field trial they do not award Road Trial titles at this time. Road Trials are sanctioned and titles are awarded by the Dalmatian Club of America.

Road Trials were "revived" in 1989. Since then an average of one trial a year has been held, usually in conjunction with the DCA National show (rotating location yearly). The entry fees are around $40 for the first dog on a team; $30 for each additional dog on the same team (a handler may run up to 6 dogs on a team). Rental horse are usually supplied on site by a separate contractor, at a cost of $125 - $200 for the day, or you may bring your won mount. Handlers may ride horse under saddle, or drive carriage or cart when the trail allows. Teams of up to six dogs are allowed, although most exhibitors compete with only one or two Dals.

At a Road Trial, the dog(s) and horse are first checked by a veterinarian. If they are deemed fit enough to compete, the dog/horse/handler team rides to a judging area. There, the mounted judge conducts and judges the following exercises:

Dog follows horse in hock position for 200 yards

Dog remains in hock position as team passes another dog/handler on foot

Dog is allowed to run free, then commanded by handler to return, or "come"

Dog is commanded by handler to SIT or DOWN; dog remains in that position for 1 minute.

 Another judge, the course judge, then conducts and judges the SPEED exercise (horse/handler begin at a canter and increase speed to a gallop for about 100 yards: dog must keep up.

 Each of these "obedience" exercises are judged off-leash, handler on horseback. Each is worth up to 100 points.


The team then continues on a marked trail for the endurance portion f the trial. The dog is also "vetted-in" at least 2 more times, receiving a final vet score at the finish of up to 100 points. To "qualify" or earn a title, each dog must receive a score of 51-100 points in each of the judging areas, pass each vet check and complete the trail ride within the allotted time (3 hours for RD, 6 hours for RDX).

To subscribe to the non-profit Road Trial newsletter :Road Trial Ramblings," send $8 (6 issues) to: Linda Myers, 19809 NE 150th Place, Woodinville, WA 98072. This newsletter reports upcoming events and training articles relating to Road Trials.

To receive a copy of the DCA Road Trial Regulations, send a business sized SASE to Linda Myers (See address above) or DCA Road Trial rules.

Videos on Road Trials are available for rental from the DCA lending library. Call or write" Cathy Nogar; Rt. 1 Box 370-J; Espanola, NM 87532-9705. Ph.# (505)753-2721.

Peggy Ann Strupp is currently the chairman of the DCA Road Trial committee. A packet of Road Trial training articles written by various authors is available from her for $3 in the US, or $4 in Canada (US funds). You may write her at: 1224 Creek Road., Soda Springs, ID 83276, or call (208) 547-3077.


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