Monday, June 18, 2007

Going to your first field trial.

By Ken Murray
Edited by Scott wilson

Going to your first field trial can be confusing and a little bit scary. Where to go, what to do, what to say, are questions the first timer has to ponder. Scott and I thought a list of do's and dont's might be helpful and entertaining. "How to go to a field trial" will be an A to Z list of the usual things you will encounter at your typical AKC licensed SPO trial. Let's get started:
A. A subscription to Hounds and Hunting Magazine. It is known as the field trialers bible. All SPO trials are advertised in the magazine. You will be able to pick a trial close to your home to attend. The ad will include Entry fee, Dates, closings time (the cut off to have your dog entered) running order, directions, to the beagle club, and the most important information, weather they will be serving breakfast and lunch.
B: Which class will I enter?
Field trials are divided into four classes.
13" dogs
15" dogs
13" bitches
15" bitches
Select what you think is your best hound, either male or female, and show up on the appropriate day. Your dog will need to be AKC registered and it can't be spayed or neutered.
When you arrive at the beagle club, go to the secretaries desk and ask for an entry form. If the form is confusing, sit down next to someone filling out their's and ask for help. Everyone, for the most part, will be happy to help you. All the information you will need is on your dogs registration paper. After you have completed the entry form, go to the secretary and enter your dog. You will best be served at your first trial to have your dog premeasured. You will have to decide between 13" and 15" premeasure. Guess at which one fits your dog best because it really doesn't matter.
Now that you have your dog entered:
C. Eat Breakfast.
Support the beagle club. Eat meals, buy raffle tickets, they need your money and you like competing at trials; you need them to provide you with a place to compete.
D. Mingle, make new friends. There will be lots of folks telling all they know or don't know about beagles running rabbits. Try not to get confused by all the talk about bloodlines.
E. Premeasure.
You will be called for your dog to be measured and placed in either the 13" or 15" class. You will then need to go back to the secretary and get your dogs number.
F. Write your dogs number down!!!
For the remainder of the trial, you will need this number to identify your dog.
G. Roll call.
Announcements are made, various officials are recognized. Every entrant in each class is read from the roll. When your dogs name is called answer "here."
H. The Drawing
Each class will randomly drawn into packs of 4,5,6 or 7 dogs. Pay attention to which pack your dog is drawn.
I. Going to the field.
Most clubs have running grounds near their clubhouse. Some will require you to drive to the running grounds. It will have been announced during the announcements but if you missed it just ask someone in your class for directions or simply follow them. Be sure you don't get mixed up and show up at the wrong running grounds. Often 15" and 13 " will be in two different locations. When you arrive at the running grounds the other handlers will be busy putting the proper color collars on their dogs. The color of collar your dog needs is determined by the order he was drawn in his pack. For example. The first dog drawn in a pack will be Red, 2nd dog white, 3rd dog blue,4th is green, 5th is yellow, 6th is orange, and seventh is black. If your dog is the third dog drawn in the 2nd pack his collar needs to be blue. Once you have your dog collared you are ready to go.
J. Go to the field.You need to gather with the other handlers of you pack in the field. The group of you need to be ready when you are called for by the judges. Keep your dog quiet. Don't let him get his lead tangled with the other dogs Keep your dog in control and not to close to the other dogs. You are now ready to go.
K. Next Pack
You lead your dog to the judges and marshall. The marshall is in charge of you and your dog in the field. The marshall will call out each dogs number in the proper order and you are to answer with the color of your collar.
L. Cast the hounds.
The marshall will announce "cast the hounds" and you simply turn your dog loose. The marshall will indicate the direction you need to hunt your dog. The judges will be watching for dogs that fail to hunt. Even if they appear to not be paying attention, they are watching. Encourage your dog to hunt, just like you do when you are gun hunting. Stay close to the other handlers and dogs. If you dog starts to wonder off in a different direction, work him back towards the others. Handlers and dogs should all be hunting together for a rabbit. Often, dogs or handlers will roust a rabbit and not know it. If you were to see a rabbit watch the direction it goes and yell Tally HO. Yelling Tally Ho may seem strange at first but it announces to everyone that game has been jumped. Using the term Tally Ho any other time is just poor etiquette.
M. Call the dogs.
Once some one has yelled Tally Ho it is treated just as if a dog is barking. The dogs that have been at this a while will come on the run. If your dog does not know what it means don't worry. As soon as the other dogs start barking he will hark right in, if he doesn't then he is probably not ready for a field trial. If a dog jumps the rabbit their will not be a Tally Ho and the dog opening will signal the game has been started.
N. The run begins
Here is the order. Rabbit, dogs, judges, marshall, then handlers. Stay behind the marshall with the other handlers. Do not discuss any dogs performance where the judges can here. Always follow the marshal's instructions. As the run progresses we come to---
O. Picking up dogs.
As the judges evaluate dogs performances, some or all the hounds will be eliminated. This is accomplished by the marshall picking up the hounds the judges indicate. If the marshall calls out your color get your dog and leave the field. Your dog is through for the day. If your dog is not picked up you will soon hear.....
P. Handle the Pack.
When the judges announce "handle the pack" go and catch your dog. This means your dog has "stayed down" and is still in consideration. He may or may not be called back to second series. After your pack has run, you should…
Q. Watch the other packs run. You are free to watch the other packs. As you spectate you should not intervene, physically or verbally with the other packs. By watching with other gallery members you will become more accustomed to the actual happenings in the field at a trial. We are now getting to my favorite part of the trial.
R. Dinner (or lunch if you are up north.)
Same as breakfast, participate. Usually the cost is $5 -$8 and the quality is good. After dinner…..
S. Second series.
Same as first series but with less hounds. The dogs are redrawn into different packs and go back to the field for further evaluation. After second series, we have either third series (which is just like the preceding series) or we have the winners pack.
T. Winners pack.
Every field trialers goal is to get his dog into the winners pack. If your dog is still in the mix - Congratulations! If not, go watch the best of the best compete that day. There are four places given, 1st - 4th and NBQ. NBQ stands for Next Best Qualified. The field trial ends when the judges shout..
U. Field Trial.
The trial is over, awards are presented, and it's time to go home. There are a few more thought and I need to share them with you.
V. Attitude
Field trials are supposed to be fun, so have fun.
W. Judges
Never openly criticize the judges. Thank them for judging the dogs and keep your thought to yourself. Complaining accomplishes nothing good because the judges decisions are final. If you feel the judges have performed poorly, don't enter your dog in any more trials judged by them. Speaking of judging…
X. Honestly judge your hounds.
when evaluating your dogs abilities, do so with open eyes. There are no perfect dogs. Yours is no exception. Don't let kennel blindness cloud your vision when assessing your hounds. Viewing your dogs and those of others with an open mind will help you.
Y. Make friends.
A field trail is a great place to meet other dog men. When you attend future trials, it makes it more enjoyable if you know other beaglers. Besides meeting great people, the best advise I can give you when you attend your first trial is….

No comments: