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IMHO, field trialing is a performance event, no different than tracking, obedience or agility. I see no legiitmate reason to bar neutered and/or ILP dogs from competing.

Did you know that field trialing is the only event in which a lame dog is not automatically disqualified?
In conformation, and all other performance events, a dog which is limping is dismissed from the ring and a report made to AKC. I have seen dogs in field trials that are so badly crippled in the front as to walk on the tops of their feet. These dogs would make it as meat hunters, which is what hunting ability is supposed to be about.

I don't care if the field trial dogs conform to the breed standard details that appeal to the eye. I do care that too many breeders for the field ignore basic qualities of soundness.

As for the conformation dogs being able to hunt, training for the field requires access to suitable training grounds. Few of us have that available. Yet many conformation dogs prove the quality of their noses in tracking trials. Witness that the FIRST Tracking Champion in the entire hound group is a Basset Hound.

As the popularity of ARHA grows and BHCA develops a hunting test, I believe that more conformation people will get their dogs, even if it's the pets they sell, into the field.

Off my soap box.
 

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Dean-Where's Denver, PA?
We had to pass on the Kenticky trial due to family abligations, but still want to get Sheila to an ARHA hunt. We spayed her after she tested poorly for bleeding, but she still likeds to run rabbit. She's structurally sound as a dollar, will run all day and loves to bust the brush. Needless to say, she was too fast for the Ohio AKC field trials when we tried that.

I understand that there is an ARHA club near Oxford, Ohio. Can I track them down through the ARHA web page?

I agree with you that there are good and bad breeders in both fields. I will say, though, that the top winning bassets in conformation tend to be "racier" than they used to be. I see fewer of the low slung, overdone dogs that can't get out of their own way.
 

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About the untrained dogs issue: I have seen outright rudeness from field trialers when someone from conformation, or a pet owner bings a dog to a trial. Oh that more trialers were like Dean. maybe the sport wouldn't be dying out.
We see untrained dogs at dog shows all the time. How else will the young dog or the novice handler learn the ropes? Even the most seasoned dog handler has had a youngster roll over in the ring on him. We just laugh and go on.
 
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