History of the KwaZulu-Natal HPR Field Trial Club

The KwaZulu-Natal HPR Field Trial Club is a National Field Trial Association (NFTA) affiliated Field Trial Club.

1990: The Beginning of the KZN HPR Field Trial Club

In the 1990s, a small group of Wing Shooters in KZN (KwaZulu-Natal) believed there was a need for a Hunt, Point, Retrieve (HPR) Field Trial Club. Although they were already members of the Natal Field Trial Club (NFTC), which presented British Breed Field Trials that tested their dogs’ hunting and pointing abilities, they also felt the need to assess their dogs’ retrieving skills.

The undertaking of creating an HPR Club to run KUSA or NFTA-approved Field Trials was deemed to be very arduous. For this reason, Mark Lansdell and Matthew Berry reached out to the NFTC to create an HPR section in the NFTC. At the 2001 NFTC Annual General Meeting, they proposed the idea. The NFTC members accepted and approved the proposal, which formed the nucleus of HPR Field Trialing in KZN.
Although part of the NFTC, the HPR Trials and activities were primarily run autonomously by Mark Lansdell, Matthew Berry and Russel Mapp. Five successful trials were held under the NFTC’s auspices and consequently recognised by the NFTA.

The Early Years

During 2001-2005, four trials were organised under the auspices of the NFTC.

The first Trial was held on 10 July 2001, in Elandslaagte, the day before their B.B. Trial. It was a single-day combined event (all Stakes). It was exceptionally windy that day, causing dogs competing in the lands to leave a trail of dust as they ran.

The second took place in Bergville on 8th July 2002. No trial was hosted in 2003 because most Transvaal competitors attended the Western Cape Trial and deemed it too difficult to participate in two away events that year.

The third Trial, hosted at Bass and Field Lodge near Bietjie Water – Reitz – OFS, held from the 17th to 18th of July 2004, was a two-day combined event that beckoned competitors from as far afield as Eastern and Western Cape Provinces. The Trial commenced with a Natural Ability Test Friday afternoon before the Trial. This Trial was well presented, showed considerable attendance growth since the first Trial, and was quite the social affair with loud music at night (which wasn’t ideal for early sleepers). Athol Green’s large German Shorthaired Pointer named “Dodi” treed all camp personnel, resulting in a delayed supper.

The fourth and final HPR trial to be run under the auspices of the NFTC was again a two-day combined trial held at Bietjie Water—Reitz—OFS on July 23rd and 24th, 2005.

Throughout these years, only a few Trialists came from KZN, with most representing from Transvaal and then from the Cape. A handful of dedicated enthusiasts essentially ran the Trials.

Gratitude should be expressed to Slang Viljoen and the Tvl. HPR Club for their support and guidance to Mark, Matthew and Russel’s original organising group during these early years.

Growing Stronger

In 2006, due to the growing size of the Club and the Trials, it was decided that it was time for the KZN HPR section to go it alone. Mark Lansdell and Russel Mapp attended the National Field Trial Association AGM, held in Bloemfontein, to seek approval for direct affiliation with them. The application was successful with the proviso that KZN HPR FTC would not exercise its vote at the NFTA AGM for two years. The KZN HPR FTC held its first AGM at Boavida on the 12th of March, 2006.

This meeting selected the following Committee:

  • Chairman – Mark Lansdell
  • Vice Chairman – Nick Isabelle
  • Secretary/Treasurer – Russel Mapp
  • Member – Luke Upfold

Matthew Berry, Mark Curry, Bernice Heine, Nick Isabelle, Mark Lansdell, Russel Mapp, Hayden Pooke, Tammy Pooke, and Brett Wortman were present at this meeting.

The Club was to hold one more Trial at the old Reitz venue and then moved its trials to the Fairview Farm of Nick and David Lowry, organised by Matthew Berry, where there were numerous Greywing and several Swainson. The conference centre on the venue was ideal as a headquarters, and there was sufficient accommodation for Judges, guns and some of the Trialists. Since 2007, Fairview Farm has hosted all KZN HPR Field Trials except in 2016, when the venue was unavailable.

2010 Matthew Berry arranged The American Gamebird Research Education & Development (AGRED) Conservancy for the Club with Nick and David Lowry on the Fairview Farm.

In 2016, the Club also held its first-ever Natural Ability and Puppy Stake in the Winterton Area.

In 2017, the Club had the honour of hosting the first-ever National Championship Stake, which was a significant success.

2020 – Present Day

2020 has been one of the most challenging years due to the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns in South Africa and worldwide. People everywhere have had to make significant lifestyle changes to adapt to their new reality.

The Covid-19 pandemic significantly impacted our social, cultural, economic and entertainment activities. It has closed businesses and sports venues and cancelled public events to contain the spread of the virus. Field Trial events also fell prey to the pandemic, with all the events cancelled in 2020.

The lockdown restrictions were relaxed in 2021, and we were again allowed to organise Field Trial events, although with strict protocols to mitigate health risks.

2020 also began a new era for the KZN HPR FTC. A special general meeting in September 2020 approved the plan to affiliate with the Kennel Union of South Africa (KUSA), and a new constitution was adopted. KZN HPR FTC, having fulfilled KUSA’s requirements, officially affiliated with them in March 2021. The Club saw its first KUSA-sanctioned Field Trial in June 2021.

In 2024, a proposal was put forward to disaffiliate our Club from the Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA). The aim is to increase participation in our trials by allowing more dog owners to join without needing KUSA membership. The decision to leave KUSA was made unanimously. All HPR Field Trials will be organized solely under the NFTA.

Our Club is proud of our success and progress, and we strive to keep pushing forward and expanding. We continuously look for ways to improve and innovate while never forgetting the roots that brought us here in the first place.

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