Field Trial Ponderings

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mybeagles
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Field Trial Ponderings

Post by mybeagles » Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:30 am

Posted this on the other site but expect different perspectives here...

When it comes to field trials and crowning the champions have any of you ever wondered why we "test" the hounds in near ideal conditions in the spring and fall? I think most would agree the goal is produce better hunting dogs. I don't know about anybody else but I normally hunt in snow, ice covered ground, hard frost etc. When we trial or test the hounds to determine the best, to crown FC's and ultimately pick the dogs to produce the next generation we do it in the spring when often the conditions are ideal, buck rabbits smell strong. In some formats if the dogs don't like the smell of a rabbit they can pick another without penalty. Generally speaking the trials are conducted in highly populated enclosures where hunt is marginally evaluated. If a trial happens to fall on a hot dry day or less than ideal scenting day many chalk it up as an anomaly not to be taken seriously.

This is not designed to illegitamize anyone's FC but rather a different perspective. I know there are some kennels that don't run their field trial dogs on snow/ice because they believe it makes them mouthy. I know some pick the judges for specific dogs. I assume some also pick the time of year (scenting conditions) for the dog. Some will Road a dog early morning before a trial to take edge off them, some get laid up for several days to hype them up. Some inject B vitamins at different stages during a trial or provide electrolyte drinks.
So many different tactics....is that being competitive? When selecting a FC to breed our female with do we really know what went into finishing the dog? Was the dog bred to run on snow/ice, Dec, Jan, Feb, or was it bred to win in Mar/Apr field trials? If I don't utilize all the tactics being used is it a level playing field?
Should I look to attend more winter trials to find breeders that are looking for something similar to what I run...is that self serving? As I draw up the plans to build a 100 acre enclosure am I participating in the very same tactics I find suspicious? When and if I get more involved in the trials will I be able to look at my field champions objectively from a hunters perspective or do I accept that dogs with the title must be better?

I've often seen it stated on here that "Not all good gun dogs are good field trial dogs, but all good field trial dogs are good gun dogs". I strongly disagree....the BEST trial hounds ive seen over the years were not the BEST gundogs. Two different standards. While I agree ALL successful trial dogs should be good gun dogs it's simply not the case.

Without being intentionally controversial anyone have thoughts on this?
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Shady Grove Beagles
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by Shady Grove Beagles » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:30 am

One of the best,well thought out and phrased posts on this subject I've seen!!
Many of the things you bring out are why I as a serious beagler,pleasure runner,gun hunter have never become a serious field trialer.
No knock on them,just never turned my crank in a big way.
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Dkennel
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by Dkennel » Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:01 am

Go watch the stud dog, and his offspring run in the conditions you plan on running in.

mybeagles
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by mybeagles » Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:15 am

Tried that a couple years ago. I was utterly shocked by stud owner after owner that I talked to that wouldn't run in typical mid winter hunting conditions in Michigan.

Most would say my dogs already proven himself or we can go when the weather warms up. I also believe if the desire is to better the breed the gyp owners should be willing to show their gyp they intend to breed. If she can't hunt, jump, produce and circle a rabbit in winter conditions the stud owner should consider refusing the breeding.
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Dkennel
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by Dkennel » Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:46 am

mybeagles wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:15 am
Tried that a couple years ago. I was utterly shocked by stud owner after owner that I talked to that wouldn't run in typical mid winter hunting conditions in Michigan.

Most would say my dogs already proven himself or we can go when the weather warms up. I also believe if the desire is to better the breed the gyp owners should be willing to show their gyp they intend to breed. If she can't hunt, jump, produce and circle a rabbit in winter conditions the stud owner should consider refusing the breeding.
I completely agree with you, don't know why a guy would hide a dog.

Swampman
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by Swampman » Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:06 am

mybeagles wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:15 am
Tried that a couple years ago. I was utterly shocked by stud owner after owner that I talked to that wouldn't run in typical mid winter hunting conditions in Michigan.

Most would say my dogs already proven himself or we can go when the weather warms up. I also believe if the desire is to better the breed the gyp owners should be willing to show their gyp they intend to breed. If she can't hunt, jump, produce and circle a rabbit in winter conditions the stud owner should consider refusing the breeding.
:nod:

My hounds are hunting hounds first and foremost.
I may not place at trials often, but they are the hounds I run year-round up here.

I've always thought that there weren't many trials in the winter due to it being hunting season and like me, most guys are going hunting for the day rather than a field trial.

Wicker's Beagles
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by Wicker's Beagles » Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:20 pm

Most trial dogs these days are simply that "trial dogs", majority of them are pretty much useless when it comes down to cutting a single dog loose in the wild solo or packed to do all the work without any human assistance.
A few can and to those I commend their performance but the majority of them simply can't do it.

Most can't be free cast into the wild to hunt on their own because they won't leave your feet, many can't jump a rabbit in the wild to save their life because they don't know where to find a wild rabbit, and a huge number of them are rarely ever ran in the wild to perform during the daylight as most are ran at night when it's much, much easier to pursue rabbits.

All I can say is many of these trial dogs simply don't meet my rabbit dog demands and their offspring usually won't reproduce what I demand either.

So, don't get caught up in all the hype and propaganda and be extra careful when you select a pup or pick that next stud dog because chances are you may be very disappointed, instead you'd be better served to find two dogs that meet your demands FC titled or not and roll the dice with them reproducing something more to your liking.

If breeding to a FC was the answer then everybody would have superior dogs and we all know that isn't what's happening or occurring because plenty of them are being bred and producing a bunch of worthless animals as far as being a rabbit dog .

SNOWDOGS1
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by SNOWDOGS1 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:11 pm

Had a similar conversation with an old time beagler recently. He has hunted over beagles probably over 60 years and has trialed some for around 50 producing several FCs. He obviously has seen a lot in those years. He said he is just not seeing many of the type hound at trials he considers a total hound much anymore. I suggested I believe years back what you had at trials were mostly hunters that trialed some and now you have mostly trialers that hunt some or not at all. The emphasis for many of today's trialers is on a dog that can win a trial which is different in my observations from what it takes to be a complete hunting dog that can run with minimal breakdowns. Throw in tough winter conditions as Dave described and that's an entirely different game than most trial dogs deal with. There are lots of FCs with many wins on bare ground that can't circle a hare very well or at all on tough snow. I am not bashing all trial dogs either, there are SOME that are the total package although many I have seen in recent years aren't. JMHO
Last edited by SNOWDOGS1 on Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:05 pm, edited 5 times in total.

BMBeagles
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by BMBeagles » Sun Jun 04, 2017 3:02 pm

Good points ! I hunt alot of state land and see groups of guys thrashing through the brush hollerin & stompin makin all kinds of racket with there dogs followin close behind !!! Lol most of em can tell you about every FC in there dogs pedigree ! Dont see'em much later in the season though !!!

ray s
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by ray s » Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:21 pm

I don't think the AKC Midwest Federation shys away from winter trials.
http://www.midwestgundogfederation.com/ ... hedule.png

CASKEY'S KENNEL
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by CASKEY'S KENNEL » Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:50 pm

..
Last edited by CASKEY'S KENNEL on Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Remmy
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by Remmy » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:42 pm

Ive been at the trialing game for a bit over a year (akc spo in western pa) so i certainly dont have the experience that some do, but i do have several years marshalling and decades hunting.

I do see alot of dogs with little hunt at trials. We call them beagle club dogs. Many never run outside the fence and have never had a rabbit killed over them. I don't have any desire to own one. I have seen some hounds that mostly run in the fence owned by fellows who dump them in the pen and drink beer in the club house. They tend to hunt better, but dont handle for nothing...

Quite frankly, there is no reason to breed for extreme hunt in spo. It just doesn't produce ribbons and trophies. Path walkers get a minus on my card, but if they run a really good rabbit, they can make up for it quickly.

All of my hounds are gun dogs first, and I currently have 1 that i consider good enough to trial. I can take my trial dog out, walk a path (in the wild) and she can jump and solo her own rabbit until it holes or i pick her up. She is an excellent pheasant dog too. Lol.

She is on the faster side for my area, and i have to watch out for judges who do a lot of gdb. At a trial last fall, she ran 2 rabbits to hole basically solo since the remainder of the pack walked quite a bit behind her and she made her checks before they caught up. She was picked up for being "too edgy and not barking enough". While I'm not accusing the judges of being unfair, I can say I'll not run under those judges again either.

Lot's of dogs are good at both and lots aren't.
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S.R.Patch
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by S.R.Patch » Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:04 pm

This reminds me of when I used to run with the Blackfoot Kennels at the old Coal Country beagle club. Joe was president and always encouraged us to increase membership, but when I'd bring buddies to the club to run, Joe would badmouth their dogs, he was brutally honest and always thought everyone should run one his line, if you had a real good one he might give you a "that's not a bad hound"...lol
I always liked Carl Sizemore for his discerning eye on a hounds ability, whether it was his or yours, he told you what he thought and he was pretty good at it. I fell into a good group of patch guys yrs ago that all held a hunting hound to a high standard, Hounds that were repeatedly faulty were buried in the woods. They ran and hunted together for enjoyment and embarrassment by a hound was not part of the game.

After saying all this, you come to realize, "hounds will never become more than what's expected of them" and your judges can never expect more than what they've seen or believe possible, I guess you could call it the old phrase, "having or meeting a standard".
What if you went to a trial and at the end of the time limit the judge declared, "Sorry boys, but none of this motley crew are deserving of merit for a winning rabbit hound, see ya next week"... :hammer:

mybeagles
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by mybeagles » Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:30 am

Ray,

Nobody will accuse the Midwest of not running year around. Holding the snow trial is not the end game.

I have judged or observed far to many where conditions were tough and due to the over competitive running style nothing could keep a rabbit going. Rabbit after rabbit 50 yard dash and nothing.

SR Patch makes a great point. Hold a trial in tough conditions where nothing moves or accounts for game and at the end of the day 1 dog collects a win and 3 more earn points toward their title.

I give kudos to the northern clubs for running those snow trials but it exposed the fact that the dogs can't run in it. Of course there were a couple when you eliminated all but a couple dogs that could move some track, but by no stretch of the imagination were they accomplished winter gun dogs. The owners of those gun dogs won't step foot at a Trial for anything other than muse. They have been let down far to many times by judges looking for something else.

I realize you in particular run some of the better controlled gun dogs in your association but the significant majority run a rough out of control hound. I don't begrudge the hounds being promoted there. Obviously there is a central core of guys that all feel the same way, but I refuse to pretend they are promoting top gun dogs like the literature states.

Hounds focused on speed, drive, competitiveness, and endurance second to none. Hunt, nose, control, accounting for game....no sir.
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Hare Chaser
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Re: Field Trial Ponderings

Post by Hare Chaser » Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:19 am

mybeagles wrote:
Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:15 am
Tried that a couple years ago. I was utterly shocked by stud owner after owner that I talked to that wouldn't run in typical mid winter hunting conditions in Michigan.

Most would say my dogs already proven himself or we can go when the weather warms up. I also believe if the desire is to better the breed the gyp owners should be willing to show their gyp they intend to breed. If she can't hunt, jump, produce and circle a rabbit in winter conditions the stud owner should consider refusing the breeding.
Pretty simple solution to that..............though AKCwill never agree to it for many reasons.

Before any "Hunting" Beagle gets its FC degree it must prove it can find, jump and circle its game to the gun in winter conditions.........SOLO...... and not just one circle. This would have to be done in the wild. NOT in an enclosure.

By the time any hound gets to this step it's already shown it can run in a pack. It ought to be able to circle its game for a minimum of 20 minutes. Sort of on the same lines as UKC's HTX program.

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