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Chris Mathan, Prairie Grounds, Prairie Trials


Prairie ~ Then and Now!

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For well over a hundred years, trainers have ventured to the prairie to train and condition their dogs and compete on wild birds. They traveled to the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and state-side, the Dakotas as well as western Wisconsin and Minnesota. They journeyed by train, then by motorized vehicle often taking a week or more to get to their destinations from the deep south and elsewhere. Today, their primary training destinations are Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North and South Dakota.

You can sense the excitement as mid-summer rolls around. Messages accompanied by photos on the internet announce the trainers’ departure, then arrival at their camps and, as weeks go by, progress reports on the dogs in training and finally, results of the prairie championships.

Life at camp hasn’t changed significantly…and maybe that accounts for much of the draw for trainers who still venture to the prairie each summer. The sun rising and setting in that big sky country, beams of sunlight touching golden fields of wheat and indigo skies foretelling a coming storm are as breathtaking as ever. The work day is long but life is simple and good and the chickens, huns, and pheasants still work their magic!

The 1961 Chrismas Edition of the American Field  featured a Prairie Pictorial by Kyle M. Walker. Here are his and other photos alongside the modern equivalents:

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ABOUT STRIDEAWAY

Strideaway is an online publication founded in 2008. We are dedicated to promoting the great sport of American pointing dog field trials, in particular American Field sanctioned trials for pointers and setters. Our objective is to present the voices and ideas of experienced trainers, handlers, breeders and other knowledgeable participants and enthusiasts from the past to the present — amateurs and professionals alike. Whether All-Age or Shooting Dog, Horseback or Walking Trials, we place particular emphasis on wild bird field trials and the dogs that compete in them. We present richly illustrated articles and stories, podcast interviews and other types of media on a regular basis with the hope of providing an ever expanding, searchable archive of information relevant to pointing dog field trials.Read article

This website is dedicated to our ever faithful friend and Strideaway contributor, Bill Allen, whose book The Unforgettables and Other True Fables we published in 2010.

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