Spring Pointing Tests were first introduced to the HPR Group by the GSP CIub in 1983 and later Guidelines were formulated and agreed as to how they should be run. They are not competitions, their aim being to test and grade the natural working ability of HPRs on open ground, assessing ground treatment, hunting and pointing. As such they do not need to be licenced by the Kennel Club.
Spring Pointing Tests take place in March and April when partridges are pairing up prior to nesting. They are held on open ground, over crops such as winter cereals, rape and grass and on stubble and set-aside. The crops have to be high enough to allow cover for the birds but low enough for the dogs to hunt at speed and be seen by the judges. There is of course no shooting or retrieving, and the work of the dogs ends at flushing the birds. All dogs are run exactly the same way into the wind and are judged on the way they cover the ground in search of game and how they react when they encounter game. The Spring Pointing Test Guidelines detail clearly what the ideal pattern of work is.
The tests are judged in two categories. The Junior category is for dogs over 6 months of age and under two years on the 1st January in the year of the test. These dogs are given credit for pointing pheasants and partridges. The Adult category is for dogs over two years of age on the 1st January in the year of the test and these dogs are only credited for their points on partridges but they will be penalised if they miss pheasants. Partridges are considered the more difficult quarry to point. The dogs can achieve gradings of Excellent, Very Good or Good.
Spring Pointing Tests offer a good opportunity for handlers to assess the potential of their young dogs and for handlers who have no other facilities they provide a chance to work their dogs on game. They are friendly informal occasions where the judges can offer help and advice. Often, compared with Field Trials, Pointing Tests provide a better view for spectators of how HPRs work
Grouse Pointing Tests are also held in some parts of the Country either in the spring when the birds are pairing or in early August just prior to the start of the shooting season. Separate Guidelines for Grouse are in operation.