At the end of the cast, two dogs are tied. It's up to the judge to pick the winner based on hunting and handling. Anyone that has ever run in ARHA Little Pack has been involved in this situation. There is no explanation in the rule book to help the judge. This is entirely his opinion. Some of the time the decision is obvious. Most of the time you could easily find reason to pick either dog.
I was recently involved in a situation like this. It was in a cast that had a lot of barking with two dogs minusing out and being removed from the cast. A third dog (blue collar) was just about to get a minus when my dog and another dog jumped a rabbit and they finally had a chase. Going into this final chase the score was Yellow = 50, Red = 25, Blue = 0.
The chase started off really hard with the dogs pounding. My dog (red collar) had the first three checks. The dogs had a long breakdown but we had a marked line. There was a lot of barking around with dogs starting to get the check, then turning around and coming back. There was no clear forward progress for a few minutes but a lot of barking. Finally, the yellow collar dog made some progress and was awarded a check. The chase ended at a loss as time expired so we caught the dogs and headed for the trucks.
When the judge read off the score, he had two dogs (yellow and red collar) tied with 75 points/three checks each. Here are the different perspectives from the cast.
The judge picked the yellow collar dog. He said both dogs hunted the same but towards the end, the red collar stood around for a little bit on the checks. He picked the yellow collar dog as the winner based on that.
The handler for the yellow collar dog was upset because he felt he should have been awarded two more checks. He felt like his dog should have been scored checks each time it made any progress. According to the rule book, this is technically right, the question is what is forward progress.
The handler of the blue collar dog was upset because he felt his dog should have been awarded at least two checks on the last race. He definitely barked the most, and his owner felt he should have been scored for what he did.
As the handler of the red collar I was fairly confident that I had won. As a judge, I would have minused the blue collar at least once for pulling dogs out of the check area and probably the yellow collar as well. I will admit though, I am biased. I hate mouthy dogs so I am especially critical when dogs are barking and not making forward progress. I did appreciate the fact that the judge took his time scoring and made dogs earn their checks. I saw my dog stop in a path once on a check and just look at the other two dogs when they were barking. I know he was wondering what in the heck all that barking was about.
I think this cast shows what makes beagle field trials so difficult for participants.
The judge is a good judge, was fair to everyone in the cast, and made a decision based on what he felt was right.
The handler for the blue collar is very inexperienced with dogs and field trials. He knew when he heard his dog and he wanted scored.
The handler for the yellow collar has a nice dog and I really think all the barking in the cast had her a little scattered. He knows from running her that usually when she opens up, she has the rabbit. Ironically, he scores less checks than any judge I have ever run under, but expected his dog to get scored in this chase.
In no way do I mean this to be critical. I hope it shows the challenges that judges and handlers face in so many casts. We all have different opinions. We all have different likes and dislikes. We all view situations based on our own preferences. Field trialing is tough.
I still think I should have won though. :)