Conformation classes are judged much like any other dog show. The winner is the dog that most closely matches the breed standard. In addition to conformation and movement, the dog is judged on temperament; as in all things having to do with Jack Russells, the best working dog is being sought. 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.
Racing is perhaps the most exciting of all the terrier trial events. A sanctioned track is a straight course with a starting box at one end and a stack of straw bales at the other. A lure is attached to a string that is pulled along by a generator. The dogs are muzzled for safety. The first dog through the hole in the straw bales is the winner. 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. Here are some racing photos.
Go-to-Ground is an event that simulates a hunting situation. The terrier traverses a tunnel and attempts to find a quarry at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel has several turns to make it a harder for the terrier. The terrier with the fastest time to the quarry is considered the winner. The terrier must mark (i.e., bark, scratch, whine) to qualify the time. 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.
Agility is a trial event in which dogs traverse a maze of obstacles and compete for speed and accuracy. Terriers jump through tires, zip through tunnels, scale a 5'7" A-Frame, traverse a narrow "dog walk", negotiate a see-saw, zigzag through closely spaced, upright poles and soar over a variety of challenging hurdles. The sport has an overwhelming spectator appeal, largely because of the fast pace, the challenging and visually appealing obstacles and the contagious enthusiasm displayed by the dogs.
Obedience involves both the Jack Russell Terrier and the handler. Handler and terrier are required to perform a series of exercises that test the obedience of the Jack Russell Terrier. Each exercise is graded by the JRTCA obedience judge. Points may be subtracted for minor and substantial faults. You may praise dog at any time. You may reward with treat after each completed exercise and only after the judge says "Exercise complete". This applies to all levels.
Youth competitors are expected to be on time, neat and workman-like, listen to and follow directions and show a genuine effort to communicate and work with their terrier. There is a great need to offer things for our youth to do with their terriers, particularly as it also provides a chance to learn. Our youth are the future of the breed which we are all struggling so fiercely to protect. They need to know they will be ultimately responsible for the well being of this great working dog and they can help its preservation. And it's our job to teach them!
Trailing and Locating involves the terrier tracking and locating a quarry (above ground). The terrier is judged on his ability to follow a line in a simulated natural hunting environment, to locate, mark and open on the quarry. The terrier is judged on a combination of time and accuracy. The terrier with the fastest time is not necessarily the winner.
Many trials offer fun events for all terriers. These are non-sanctioned classes and are enjoyed by owners and their terriers. They can include: High Jump, Field Luring Courses, Timed Individual Racing, Super Earth, Weenie Bobbing and Retrieving, Muskrat Swimming Races, and more. Ask at the registration desk when you check in to see what is offered at the trial you are attending.