Albert Frederick Hochwalt, William F. Brown
Throughout all of history in general there were always important influencers who shaped our world.
In the early days of our sport, Albert Frederick Hockwalt was one such character. His understanding and dedication, his endless study and analysis shaped the development of both field trial setters and pointers by way of the respect and weight his opinion held with breeders, trainers/handlers, and judges alike.
William Brown’s 1939 biography of Hochwalt, published the year following his death, contains countless gems that reveal just how prominent his importance was in shaping what we have today. We can argue all day long just how far back the ancestors in a dog’s pedigree will figure in conferring characteristics in a planned litter but we cannot deny that the careful selection of matings — one generation to the next — has given us the dogs we have today. Without that legacy, we could not go forward. We could no more produce the extraordinary setters and pointers of today were we to attempt to “start from scratch”.
So in reference to an earlier post “Champion Manitoba Rap Will Not Run”, a letter published in the August 2, 1913 issue of the American Field, here is an excerpt from William F. Brown’s book describing Hochwalt’s influence in the breeding of the dog, the first of the succession of pointers that changed field trial history — and not due to a preference in Hochwalt for one breed over the other.
Thus we are quick to refute any allegations that A.F. Hochwalt was a “Pointer Man” during the last twenty years that he held sway as the No. 1 personality in the bird dog cosmos. We knew him intimately; he kept no confidence from us (the American Field for who Hochwalt reported field trials) when it came to bird dog lore, and it is an honest tribute to record that he loved a good setter just as fondly as a good pointer, that it was not the breed, it was the excellence of the individual dog which counted with him.
But back in the first decade of 1900 pointer men did not have a great deal to cause cheering. Then came the Dayton scribe to help build the breed. The big opportunity came in 1909, when Manitoba Rap won the National Championship. Bred by W. T. F. Fiedler of Louisville, KY., a student of breeding and of pedigrees, Manitoba Rap’s greatness was predicted by Hochwalt, who was familiar with the puppy’s background and history. Lady Cyrano Rush, the dam of Rap, was kenneled in Dayton for several months and Al had numerous opportunities to study her individuality. He described her as practically worthless as an individual; she was rattle-brained, gun shy and entirely unbroken. Despite her defects, however, she was very fast and she could find more birds than three average dogs put together. She was in every sense of the word a bundle of nervous energy which was pent up in a wiry but diminutive anatomy. She was a combination of Rush of Lad [Hochwalt’s old favorite] and King Cyrano blood. Mr. Fiedler, her owner, wished to intensify the Rush of Lad blood and sent her to Dayton for the purpose of breeding her to a son of Lad, but the mating failed. Mr. Fiedler discussed the question with Hochwalt, who frankly told him that if he expected to get anything at all, Lady had better be bred to some level-headed, not to say phlegmatic, dog that could supply brains and a general mental balance. Fielder decided this was perhaps the best thing and his choice fell upon Mr. Gorham’s Ripple, trained as a shooting dog and an individual which filled every inch of his specifications. The litter came April 4, 1906, including a puppy to be known as Manitoba Rap, which was acquired by Thomas Johnson of Winnipeg, Man., at the suggestion of L. W. Blankenbaker. Both Major J. M. Taylor and Al Hochwalt forecast great things for this dog, which won several times as a Derby, then in the All-Age Stake of the Pointer Club of America at Barber, N.C., in December, 1907, Rap won with what Hochwalt declared one of the most brilliant performances he ever witness anywhere at any time. Manitoba Rap won plaudits and pointer men took heart, for even so outstanding a judge as the late Colonel Arthur Merriman later said: “We can sacrifice extreme range — in fact we should sacrifice it — when we find a dog that has the style and character that Manitoba Rap showed in his championship race. Those are the qualities that should be valued higher than others.”
Hochwalt felt the same way about it. Nose, intensity, style, character, these rated higher than mere wide range, perhaps illy applied.
Albert Frederick Hochwalt — A Biography, Wiliam F. Brown, 1939, pgs 106-108
Manitoba Rap by Edmund Osthaus
Generations of pointers following Manitoba Rap won because breeders did not disregard essential features of class bird dogs to the enhancement of only one characteristic, that of extreme range. Through careful selection by knowledgeable breeders over generations they did leave us the “whole package” including extreme All-Age range, applied with stunning success.
We owe an enormous debt to the single-minded selfless dedication to the betterment of our dogs and sport of field trialing to our fore-bearers, Albert F. Hochwalt, William Brown and many others. More than a debt, we owe them the same dedication to faithfully guide the legacy they left us — from which we have inestimably benefited from — into this 21st Century.