American Field

Dogs, Horses and All That Jazz

By David Grubb | Dec 10, 2019
David Grubb

During the course of my sixty-year field trial career many individuals were encountered who worked assiduously for the field trial sport — both men and women — and in many cases dedicated women.

Our annual major circuit field trial season began in September in Baldwinsville, New York. Penny Ann Thompson attended the trial there and soon became the co-owner of champion setter Memphis Cowboy.

Very instrumental in the success of the trials there was Martha Harris, the wife of longtime patron and club official Doug Harris.

The vivid colors of Autumn in the Finger Lakes Region of New York will always be in my mind.

From there it was off to Harpster, Ohio for the International Pheasant Championship at fabulous Killdeer Plains. Two women there stood out.

Janet Vogel was the owner of the Fireside Restaurant in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Janet went out of her way to do the best for the field trialers.

One particular field trialer became enamored of Janet and reportedly sent her a dozen roses each week for a whole year, and when he returned to the trial the next year expected some retribution.

Janet told him, “Why don’t you save your money and just send me a check.”

There was not a big representation of women at the trials there, except Lucy Kilburn (she and her husband Denver manned the dog wagon for the renewals); Donna Ball (wife of Bill Ball); and the wives of Oggie Price, Howard Steigle, Howard Hodges and the illustrious Curtis W. Miles.

One day Curtis asked me if I had any dogs running the following day. When I said “No”, he told me, “You can go to the Chamber of Commerce meeting. You will get a big steak with all the trimmings and get to hear a speaker talk.”

It was an excellent dinner, and I sat back to enjoy the speech. The M C said, “We have a top speaker on field trials today, Mr. David Grubb!”

Besides those I’ve mentioned, the late Tom Honecker from nearby Findlay, Ohio did yeoman’s service for those pheasant trials, as did Tate Cline, his son Andy, Oggie Price and Ed Teiga.

The last year the trials were held at Killdeer Plains I ran a good dog that Lefty Henry scouted for me. With but a few minutes to go in the heat, she pointed. Just as the judge was arriving, the bird got up and she went a ways with it. Not turning my head, I asked Lefty if the judge had seen the bird leave. Lefty said. “Turn your head and ask him. He’s right behind you.”

I did and there sat the judge not six feet behind me.

Yes, Killdeer Plains was great grounds, had great handlers, dogs, and many, many great memories.

From there we soon headed to various southern trials. The United States Open Championship was being held at Bud Moore’s excellent grounds near Catherine, Alabama at the time.

Ruthann Epp, Mazie Davis and the lovely “Miss Margaret” were all strong workers for the trials.

After the first of the year, it was the National Derby and Free-for-All Championships at Jimmy Hinton’s Sedgefields Plantation near Alberta, Alabama. This trial — two major stakes — was managed by Jimmy Hinton, Jack Truett Payne, Bill Hembree, Billy Morton and his son Billy Wayne Morton.

We won the Free-for-All Championship twice (Air Control — 1968, and Red Water Jupiter, 1978) and came close several other times.

When the trial first started at Sedgefields, there were galleries of 200-300 riders, some years with entries of more than ninety dogs.

Then it was off to Grand Junction, Tennessee and the National Championship, where Mr. Jimmy Bryan helped manage the stake, then Dr. Jim Anderson, and now for the last several years, Dr. Rick Carlisle.

A sort of companion stake to the National Championship at Grand Junction was the West Tennessee trials at Brownsville-Dancyville where there was a host of field trial participants — Tom Currie, Allen Currie, Jimmy and Jake Waddell, Curt Waddell and their lovely wives; Linda and Bill Hunt, and Elizabeth Reid among them.

I met Elizabeth Reid in a rather peculiar way. She customarily hosted a party at her home for the West Tennessee field trial participants, and it was a busy affair. I spotted a vase full of apples. I picked one up and began eating it. Elizabeth walked by and saw me eating one and quietly said, “Mr. Grubb, you are eating our decorations.”

Tom Currie was quite a character, and we had a special relationship. One year he announced that “It is OK to cut the wire. Just let us know where you cut it.”

I was winning the trial with Miller’s Silver Ending, which would be named 1997 National Champion just a few days later. Silver Ending got caught behind some wire, so I cut it. Tom about had a heart attack when he found out I’d cut it only a few feet from a hidden gap.

From Tennessee our travels took us to the All-America Championships which at the time were being held in Washington, Indiana.

Dan Burgess was a mainstay of the trials. He was on top of everything, always at the right time and right place.

Then it was off to the O. S. Redman All-Age near Columbus, Ohio. That was a one-woman show: Lucy Kilburn running it all.

Lucy drove the dog wagon with her husband Denver, like they did in the fall at Killdeer Plains pheasant stakes. They put on quite a show and always drew numerous entries for the All-Age.

One year we lost Shalimar there and were looking for him. I saw a fellow fishing near a pond and called point. The guy jumped out naked and exclaimed, “What’s going on?” I said, “That’s the posse, buddy, and we got your butt.”

Each and every time Dick Niehaus saw me, he’d call “Point!”

Yes, Lucy Kilburn was quite a lady. She and Denver were vital to the Clovernook Club also.

From Ohio, it was off to the Kentucky Championship. Several ladies helped with the conduct of that trial. Bob Napier’s wife Sandy, and Vernon Vance’s late wife Susan were indispensable. Pam Tucker, wife of Buster Tucker, is another worker for the trials.

One year I lost Scottish Solider at the Berea grounds, and the transmitter on the retrieval unit went haywire, taking me several miles off course. Just before dark, here comes Buster in his truck insisting we drive in. We found the dog not a mile from the kennel.

Another year we lost him in “lost dog canyon,” and Buster and I hunted for him until dark.

From Kentucky we headed home to Michigan, and later in April, the  Michigan Open Shooting Dog Championship, where two women stood out — Ruth Hires and Cindy Klenner.

Ruth “ruled the roost”. What she said was “law”.

One man stood out: Jack Hires.

But others worked hard to make the Michigan  Championship a success: Oliver De Luca, Jim Logan, Joe Guzman, Jim Cipponeri, Ron Williams, Bill Klenner, Dave Fletcher, Chuck Van Pelt, Beecher Hill and his buddy, Gary Paul Tutro.

Then, after several months on the road, back to my great family and the light of my life, Henrietta, our Miss Queen, as Buster Tucker calls her.

We’d close out the season with the Canadian stakes at Windsor, Ontario where Beulah Evans and her husband Ron, Don Frigo and Eva Willer, Jeff and Mat Haggis, the saddlemakers, guided those trials.

Yes, it’s been a great life in a great sport with “Dogs, Horses and All that Jazz.”

[Author’s note: The late Jack T. Payne had “Dogs, Horses and All that Jazz” on a license plate, thus the title for this feature.]

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