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Trials And Errors

by Rick Giermata

          How many times have you taken your best hound, drove for hours through the night to get to a trial, and been picked up right off the bat? For the first few years it happened to me constantly. Most folks after the first few times throw in the towel because they just cant figure out why their good dog gets tossed. He has correct mouth, good line control, keeps up with the pack, and works hard in the check area. Then why doesn't he win or place? Most will say that its political, or the judge placed his friends dog, or even that they were plain cheated! I started to feel the same way when I started to trial. Then I ran my dogs with a "big name field champion". I was so nervous the night before that I couldn't sleep. The next day when the running began, I couldn't believe that I was not running with superdog. My dogs picked up checks, took their turns in the front, and started their share of rabbits.

          Now why did that dog have a title and mine didn't? Not because those dogs were superior to mine, but because their owner knew where his dog would fit in. What I mean by that, is that in the AKC there is many different federations. Each one is different yet the same. They judge the hounds with the same rule book and in the same format, but each one draws a different speed and style of dog. It took me quite a few trials and miles to find out where my dogs best fit to compete, but when I did, I really started to enjoy the trials. Yes, I still lost more than I won, but I new that it was because there was a better dog down that day. I knew though that my dogs were able to compete in these trials and before long I was hanging up some blue ribbons.

          My advise to the person that thinks their ready for the trials, or the houndsmen who is ready to change his kennel of good dogs cause he can't win at the local beagle club, is "STOP!" Before you do anything else, take the time to go to some different associations and see what type of hounds are running. Fast, slow, hard hitting, or conservative, there just might be a place for you. If the AKC trials don't do it for you, go to a UKC, or a ARHA trial. Remember, the same applies even under other registries. When your at these trials, don't forget to look at the winning hounds. If you see something you like, talk to the handler, ask what bloodline the hound. This means a lot because certain bloodlines run in a certain way. If you took your fast hound to a trial that draws a more slower dog, your dog is now the odd ball and most likely will not place. The same goes for the slower dog that draws out with a pack full of speed. That dog will look like he is lagging behind.

          Remember the dogs are scored as a pack, and if your hound is not in it, it wont be getting too much score. Also, talk to the judges after the trial and ask them what they saw in that dog. Most of the guys are great and will have no problem showing you their score book while telling you about each dog and each rabbit that was run. If you in fact do have a good dog, don't give up right away, do your homework and don't be afraid to ask questions. I hope this helps you out in your quest for the gold. I only wish I would have known this a little sooner in my trial career. I'm however sure that all the clubs that got my entry (donations) fee's, were glad that I stopped by. Even if was for only a SHORT TIME!

          Till next time, good hounds and good hunting!

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