An Introduction to Bassett Hound Field Trials
By AKC Field Representative Jim Odle
Bassett Hound Field Trials are exciting and a lot fun for the hound and huntsman. These events date back to the 1930's. Basset field trials are designed and conducted for the purpose of selecting those hounds that display sound quality and ability to the best advantage. Shortly after the formation of the Basset Hound Club of America (BHCA) in 1935, the fourteen charter members held a fun field trial in Michigan. The first field trial in the east was held in 1938 in Kimberton, PA The sport grew quickly. World War II slowed the growth of the sport, but only temporarily. Following the war the sport continued to grow at a steady pace.
All field trials are sponsored and hosted by a local Basset club. These events are licensed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the hounds compete for championship points. To enter the Basset hound must be at least six moths of age and individually registered with the AKC. The owner will need to complete a very short entry form entering the hound in the field trial and pay an entry fee. Most clubs holding field trials close the entries at 8:00 A.M. After closing no hounds are allowed entry. Spayed and neutered hounds and hounds with limited registration are eligible to compete in these events and are welcome. Newcomers are welcomed by the club members. Experienced enthusiasts are available to offer kind and valued suggestions to assist the newcomers.
Most of the Basset Hound field trials are run in braces, two dogs at a time. Once all hounds are entered and at the advertised time, the entries will close and the hounds are randomly drawn in braces. The hounds are run in the field on rabbit or hare and are evaluated by two judges. The handlers and gallery also go to the field under the direction of the Marshall. Once all braces have been run this completes first series. The judges will announce the hounds selected for second series based on merit and those hounds are run in braces again. The second series may be followed by additional series until the judges have decided the final placing.
Of course the most sought after ribbon is the blue one---the all important first place. No matter how many places the basset hound has won, without the necessary first place it cannot achieve the much coveted title of Field Champion.
In order to become a field champion, a basset must have placed in Open All Age classes at four or more trials and have placed 1st in at least one and have won a total of 60 championship points. Points are awarded as follows: First Place - 1 point for each starter (competitor); Second Place - ½ point for each starter; Third Place - 1/3 point for each starter; and Fourth Place - 1/8 point for each starter.