Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here's a little something that has bothered me lately. Let me set the stage for you.
I was at a field trial judging the 15" female class last week. We had 36 hounds entered. Not a huge class but fairly large for 15" females. Six packs of six. It was a terrible scenting day as the south east is still in the grips of a historic drought and high pressure. After running through the first series my judging partner and I decided to bring back 11 hounds for second series. There was one from a pack, three from another, none from a couple packs, you get the idea. We chose the best dogs (that day) from first series to make our 2nd series. A pack of 5 and a pack of 6. Keep in mind I've told you scenting is near nothing. Any one who has followed many dogs can attest that once you get more than 4-5 dogs the race will degrade on a poor scenting day. We ran our second series and then had a pack of 6 for our winners pack. They ran fair. The main thing is they did keep a rabbit going and they never stopped hustling around trying to find the scent at the checks.
Conversely across the hill, 13" judges went about their task in a completely different manner. They had 7 packs in first series. They ran them all and miraculously had a 21 dog second series. Not that big a deal you might think. True but wouldn't you think it even more miraculous once you've learned 3 dogs came from each pack. How about the odds of the best 21 dogs that day being divided evenly 3 to the pack. Even a rookie in the statistics field can tell you this is almost never going to happen. I even know some of the pack didn't really run at all.
To top this, they ran their second series and low and behold they had three dogs from each pack back to make a nine dogs winners pack! I'm not sure if it took 4 or 5 rabbits for them to get this winners pack run off.
Don't misunderstand, I know these guys are new to judging and for that matter fairly new to running dogs. They will get better as they gain experience. In the end, likely they will make good hounds men. This of course assuming they keep their minds and ears open to learning dogs.
The point I am trying to get across is this: judge with an eye at keeping only the top performers in the series. Don't worry about how dumb luck divided the packs. The trial that has more than one worthy dog in every pack is indeed few and far between. If you are not sure run the pack down to one or two dogs to insure they can keep the rabbit moving, if they fail eliminate them. Judge these trials like the fate of beagling itself rests on you decisions. Remember Accomplishment over style? This means the rabbit must be accounted for! So what if this dog is flashy and shoots to the front and looks like a world beater. He had better be able to run the rabbit without those behind him or he is of little use to the beagle breed.

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