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Field Trialing

by John Rogers


          I haven't field trialed as much as many of the people who will read this. But I have been involved in both sides of some good field trials.

          I was the first Field Trial Secretary for Tokeena Beagle Club in Westminster SC. I will always be able to say first, but never able to say best. They have had some real good ones since me.

          It takes a lot of hard work and planning to hold a good trial. The bigger trials take more work and planning to be successful.

          I have written down some of my thoughts on field trialing. I hope they can be useful. If not useful at least interesting.

          The most important thing to have for a field trial is rabbits. The running grounds have be well stocked. Trying to judge several packs and series of dogs with almost no rabbits is close to impossible.

          I never realized until I got involved in running a field trial, it takes a lot of studying. Everyone that has any working part in a field trial has to read and know the rule book.

We hold AKC Field Trials and their rules have to be law during a licensed trial. All trials at a club need to be run by the same rules to avoid any confusion.

          Just as important as rabbits are people. Enough well trained people to cover all the jobs is a must for any good trial. A member with all the knowledge and ability in the world is not helping the club if he goes hunting or fishing on trial days.

          Good food is a plus at a field trial. Many of the men and women that come to field trials travel a long way. Many times they have little sleep before a long hard day in the field. A good meal at a reasonable price helps make the day better.

          Having been Filed Trial Secretary and a Club Officer has meant being part of the Trial Committee. I never liked having to make some of the decisions that have to be made some times.

          Everyone who has trialed knows problems will arise some times. Problems are a part of all things.

          One problem comes with a borderline dog. A dog that stands right at the height limit needs to be officially measured to avoid a lot of problems. I have seen people get very upset because their dog measured out of the 13" class by an 1/8 of and inch or so.

          A dog doesn't always stand like he should no matter how hard a judge tries to get him/her to. Dogs right on the border can lose or gain a little weight and have more or less fat on top of their shoulders from one trial to another.

          The hardest decision I have ever had to help make was during a mixed class trial. Any one that has ever been to a mixed class trial knows running males and females together can cause trouble some times.

When we first started we ran a mixed class trial for one of our non-licensed trials. we had a male that wouldn't leave a female alone in one pack. The judges called for the trial committee to pick up one of the dogs.

          You can't worry about making someone mad at you . You are definitely going to do that, because you are getting ready to pick up his/her dog.

          My concern always was the dog. If you pick up a dog that shouldn't be picked up, the dog can't be judged on his ability. Every dog at a trial deserves a chance to be judged fairly on his ability.

If all the males are after the female the dog to pick up should be the female. I have seen only one male bothering a female and the other males not interested until that first male was picked up and then another of the males will go after her.

          It doesn't help anyone to stand there thinking we picked up the wrong dog. We were fortunate at the trial we had to get the right dog out of the pack.

          The hardest, most physically demanding job at a trial is judging. I have never judged because of too much weight on a bad pair of legs. A good judge almost has to be a marathon runner. Marathon runners don't have to run through brush and briars.

          One thing I try to remember is the gallery don't see everything the judges see and the judges don't see everything the gallery sees.

Like all trialers I have at times felt like my dog didn't get as much credit as he deserved. I can handle an honest opinion even if it doesn't match mine. Like most people I can't stand an opinion that doesn't seem to be an honest assessment of my dog.

          Rule books are like Bibles. Seems everyone who reads them interpret them differently.

          Even when your dog don't win you can have a good time at a trial. Talk with some of the old timers. Get several opinions about running rabbits and your dogs ability. Learn from the others there and swap some funny stories. Make some new friends. Have some good food and leave feeling like next time will be your time. Make the most of the day.

          All clubs need to strive to have everyone even the losers drive away thinking the day wasn't wasted. Let them leave thinking, they had plenty of rabbits, they ran the trial by the book, they were as fair as you can be and the food was good. That is how you get them back for the next one.

          Money made during a trial is always needed to pay the bills and keep the club open. Dues alone are never enough. Every entry is important and should be viewed that way.

          There was a time in my life that I considered trialing a waste of time. I had never been to one I was a hunter and hunting was the only thing I was interested in.

          As hunting areas around here began to be covered up with houses and shopping centers and bought and posted "no hunting" my opinion changed.

          Someday trialing may be the only way to enjoy the sweet sound of a pack in hot pursuit of a rabbit. If you love the beagle attend at least one trial. You may get hooked on it.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).