Getting Started in Beagling
For over 100 years beagles have competed in AKC field trials. To become a part of that history your fist step is to decide which type of field trial you wish to compete in. There are Brace, Small Pack Option, Large Pack and Gundog Brace field trials or if you prefer Hunt Tests.
Brace trials, the oldest type of AKC beagle field trials, are two or three beagles run as a brace and the dogs are judged primarily on how accurate they are in trailing the rabbit.
Small Pack Option trials are run with the 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 Trials are run on hare 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.
In the Gundog Brace trials, the pairs of beagles are cast, or 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 and while on the rabbit's trail, a gun is fired to test for gun shyness.
In the AKC Hunt Test for Two Couple Packs the beagles are run in packs of four hounds that are cast to find their own rabbit and they are evaluated on how well they search for game. Each pack is run a minimum of twenty minutes and at some time during the run the beagles are tested for gun shyness. Once a dog has completed his title in the Hunt Tests, he may use the initials MH, for Master Hunter, after his name.
Once you decide which type of field trials you want to compete in, it is time to get a rulebook for brace, gundog brace or small pack option or a rulebook for Large Pack trials.
Read the rulebook then read it again. Then locate a club near you and make that first contact with the beaglers. You can also find an event near you searching by state and month. I think you will find that most beaglers are very willing to discuss their hounds and what is going on at the event. This is a sport that is full of camaraderie and good times. Welcome to the wonderful world of Field Trial Beagles!