September Sneak Peek
I Attended a Judge Seminar
By Stephen Wiggins
In the June 2013 issue of Hounds and Hunting there appeared advertisements informing the beagling community of a couple of SPO judge seminars. This caught my attention. Since I am new to beagling, and am trying to learn as much about the sport that I possibly can, I wondered what it would be like to attend one of these seminars. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about what a judge seminar entailed, how difficult it might be, who could attend, or what the cost would be. I decided to find out the answers to my questions. So I chose one of the ads at random and called the person’s telephone number listed in the advertisement.
The Tallahatchie Beagle Club in New Albany, Mississippi, was hosting a “Regular SPO Judge Seminar” on Saturday, July 20, 2013. Michael Seger was listed as the contact person so I telephoned him and told him I was interested. Michael is like most people, I have learned, who love the sport of beagling. He has a passion to promote the sport and is very encouraging to those who show an interest in being a part of the beagling community. He was more than happy to answer all my questions, however simplistic they may have sounded.
I learned that anyone could attend the seminar that was interested. The cost was $25.00 per person. After getting the time the seminar would start and the directions to the place it was held I was pumped and ready to attend. Michael also put my mind at ease. There would be a test that everyone would take at the conclusion of the seminar. But he informed me that if you listen carefully to the presentation there should be no reason why one should not receive a passing score. He assured me that since he had passed the test so could anyone.
Michael further informed me that I could contact the American Kennel Club and they would send me their booklet, Beagle Field Trial Rules. Since this is the material that would be presented in the seminar the more familiar I was with these “Standard Procedures for Brace, Small Pack and Small Pack Option Field Trials and Two-Couple Pack Hunting Tests” the better I would do on the exam. I took his advice and read the book (48 pages) a couple of times in the weeks prior to the seminar. I appreciated Michael’s advice in this regard as it alleviated some of the trepidation I had in anticipation of what I would be expected to remember on the test.
Mel Stewart taught the seminar. Mel is the AKC Field Director of Hounds for Performance Events and a member of the SPO Hall of Fame. He did a masterful job in presenting the material via PowerPoint. He brought a lifetime of experience in judging beagle trials to the seminar. Listening to him tell of some of his experiences as a judge was priceless. Mel knows the Field Trial Rules and uses a good dose of common sense to apply them to different situations sensibly. It was a distinct pleasure to sit at the feet of this master houndsman. Hopefully the Lord will bless him with many more years of service in the world of beagling.
I confess that I had an ulterior motive in wanting to attend the seminar. And it had nothing to do with wanting to become a trial judge. Rather, it centered upon learning more about what to expect from a good rabbit dog; and how I might assist my own dogs in getting better. I quickly found out that this is really not the purpose of a judge seminar. While it is true that there was material presented dealing with the “Standard for Judging” in which desirable qualities and faulty actions of hounds were discussed, it was not a dog-training seminar. Instead, the purpose of a judge seminar is to acquaint one with the rules that regulate and govern the field trial. Assessing the credits and demerits of the hounds, while significant when it comes to actually judging the hounds, was only a part of what the seminar was about.
Check out the remainder of this article on page 20 of our September issue.