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Event: Youth Trial
Result: Butch Bennett Memorial Trial

Location: Tallahassee, Florida

Post Date: May 14, 2024

Submitted By: Chris Mathan, Reporter

Butch Bennet YouthS24

2024 Butch Bennett Memorial Youth Trial. Winners: (from right to left) 1st place: True Confidence Buzz, Kira Jenkins, 2nd place: Rose, Harper King, 3rd place: Lady, Kaidence Cumbie. Back row: Roger King, Riley Cumbie, Jesse Graffam, judge, Matt King, Steve Parrish, judge, Jeffrey Arnold. [Photo by Chris Mathan]

Once again this wonderful youth trial was blessed with perfect weather and another large gallery of enthusiastic supporters. Entrees included handlers who have run dogs here on Old Meridian Plantation (formerly Hales Place) since the trial's inception in 2018 as well as several first-time handlers. Youth field trials are really lighting up in north Florida and Southwest Georgia...due to the efforts of local field trial clubs like the Georgia/Florida Invitational FTC who hosts this trial.

Thanks to the Roberts family, owners of Old Meridian, not just for having the trial on their beautiful property for so many years but for fully supporting it and the youth handlers -- making sure there are plenty of fast-flying birds for the dogs to point as well as supplying gifts for all the kids. Thanks to the judges Steve Parrish and Jessie Graffam...Jessie filling in when originally scheduled judge, Mike Lardy was unable to attend. Thanks to the crew at Old Meridian who always keep things moving along smoothly and safely. Special thanks to all the youth handlers, their parents and everyone who came to support them. If you live in the area, this trial should be on your spring field trial calendar! We were happy to have long-time field trailer John Milton and his wife Vivian attend along with family members. John's grandson, Grant McCall did a fine job handling a dog in his first ever field trial!

Both Jason Loper and Tommy Rice, pivotal to this trial's inception, running and success were unable to attend as the GA/FL field trial lost a day due to bad weather on Saturday. Both gentlemen were handling dogs on Sunday so could not be present for the Butch Bennett. Jason asked Bobby Ryan to fill in. Bobby took care of collecting entry fees, seeing to winners' trophies and to gifts and making the announcement. The GA/FL club provided winners plaques as well as the Butch Bennett rotating bowl to the first-place winner. Youth Field Trial Alliance donated Strideaway published Ed Mack Farrior books as judges' gifts as well as dog treats for the winning dogs. Patty Ewer donated her drink holders and a pair of chaps to the winner. Old Meridian had caps and other gifts for all the young handlers. As has been the case for several years, winners photos were taken to have 8x10 prints made and sent to each winner from YFTA. A 10 x 20-inch print of the entire field trial party was made to present to the Roberts family.

13 dogs and 11 handlers competed in six braces and a bye. There were ample birds seen in each brace --many opportunities for dogs to get them pointed and they did! Many of the youth handlers in this and other youth trials in this area are children of quail plantation managers/dog trainers as well as professional and amateur trainers/field trial handlers. Many of the dogs that competed are plantation dogs just coming off a season of quail hunting. They are classy dogs, experienced at finding and handling birds and appear to enjoy youth trials as much as their young handlers and everyone else! The older, more experienced handlers are handling their dogs with very little help from their "scouts". They will easily transition to sanctioned field trials in the coming years. The hope is that giving them these opportunities and much support will guarantee that their love of our great sport will to continue to grow. Don't underestimate these young handlers--youth stakes are instilling confidence and good sportsmanship -- win or lose -- in each of them.

The first-place winner, handsome pointer male True Confidence Buzz was handled by Kira Jenkins, without question one of this area's most accomplished young handlers. She has placed numerous times over the past few years with different dogs but this was her first time handling a dog to the number one spot! Huge congrats to Kira, who is also a skilled equestrian, often scouting for other handlers. Kira did an excellent job handling Buzz in his consistently forward and attractive shooting dog race punctuated by 3 red letter finds! She has been mentored by Jeffrey Arnold, owner of Buzz and other dogs Kira has won with. Jeffrey, a big supporter of youth trials, established the Pinewoods Bird Dog Club last year, hosting two youth trials annually.

The team of Orchard Pond Rose and Harper King is no stranger to the winner's circle either, placing second again as they did last spring in this stake. The pretty going white and orange pointer, Rose had multiple finds, all expertly handled by Harper.

Third went to Pine Fair Lady handled by Kaidence Cumbie. This was Kaidence's second time handling a bird dog in a trial; her first competing here last year. Lady swept the field scoring 4 times...and honoring her bracemate twice! And Kaidence would pilot Lady to a second place win the following Sunday in the John Abbott Horseback stake!

Congrats to all the youth handlers for coming out and giving it their best. We look forward to seeing you all again next spring.