Most people know a Basset Hound’s distinct look—soulful but droopy eyes, long, floppy ears, and a low-to-the-ground body that moves at a snail’s pace. What you might not know is that they’re also quite stubborn and possess superior scenting abilities – both of which make them incredible hunters! In fact, their innate ability to hunt is one of the reasons we first started holding Basset Hound Field Trials (“competitions”) back in 1937.
In a Basset Hound Field Trial, dogs run in packs of two or more after a rabbit or hare. Don’t worry: The rabbits and hares are never touched. The whole purpose of the event is to exhibit your dog’s scenting skills, not his actual hunting skills.
Because you can’t help but smile when you see a Basset, we know it’s hard to imagine them as serious competitors. But that’s exactly what they are! If you a Basset lover, and you’ve never seen them compete before, it’s a must.
To compete, your Basset Hound must be:
- At least 6 months of age.
- Physically sound and up-to-date on all inoculations and health check-ups.
- Have an AKC number.
- Spayed and neutered hounds and hounds with limited registration are eligible to compete in these events and are welcome.
- Blind dogs are not eligible.
- No dog can compete if it is taped or bandaged or in any way has anything attached to it for medical purposes.
Your fist step is to decide which type of competition to compete in:
- Brace – Two or three Basset Hounds run as a pair (or “brace”) and are judged primarily on how accurate they are at trailing the rabbit.
- Small Pack Option Trials are run with dogs in packs of seven, and they are expected to find and pursue the rabbit with enthusiasm while maintaining control of the rabbit’s trail.
- Large Pack are run with dogs in packs of up to 25 dogs who are expected to run for a minimum of 3 hours in the Open class, which is the class where you earn points for a Field Championship.
- Gundog Brace field trials where pairs of Basset Hounds are turned loose to find their own rabbit and are judged on how well they search. They are then judged on how well they follow the rabbit. In fact, while on the rabbit’s trail, a gun is fired to test for gun shyness.
Once you decide which type of field trials you want to compete in, it is time to get a rulebook for the event of your choice. If you’re not already involved with a local Basset Hound, find one near you. Newcomers are always welcome and experienced enthusiasts are available to offer kind and valued suggestions to assist you.
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