Ever hear of the phrase, “the-nose-knows”? It’s something that Beagle owners know well: Their keen sense of smell means they follow their noses wherever they take them. It also means they’re excellent hunting companions — and why Beagles competed in one of the first field trials (“competitions”) we ever held over 125 years ago in 1888.
In a Beagle Hound Field Trial, dogs run in packs of two or more to follow a rabbit or hare. The goal is to follow the trail of a rabbit or hare, not to harm them. Depending on which trial you participate in, your dog will be judged on his ability to search and explore; to pursue and keep control of a trail; his accuracy in trailing; endurance; adaptability to changes in scenting conditions; patience; determination; and more.
If you’re a Beagle lover, you have to see a Beagle Field Trial in person. But consider this a warning: You might not be able to contain your squeals of joy watching them running around a field! Everything about them is just so very cute – but make no mistake: They’re oh-so-serious when competing.
To compete, your Beagle 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 first step into the Beagle Field Trials is to decide which type of competition to compete in:
- Brace – Two or three Beagles run as a pair (called a “brace”) and judged primarily on how accurate they are at trailing the rabbit.
- Small Pack Option Trials are run with dogs in packs of seven who are expected to find and pursue the rabbit with enthusiasm while maintaining control of the rabbit’s trail.
- Large Pack Trials are run with the dogs in packs of up to twenty-five dogs. They 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 Beagles are turned loose to find their own rabbit and are judged on how well they search. They’re also tested 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 Beagle club, 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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