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Field Trial Review Adieu

Tom and Nancy Brannon retired and sold The Field Trial Review and the Mid-South Horse Review to current Owner and Publisher: Lauren Abbott.

Dear Field Trailers:

We officially retired from the Field Trial Review and the Mid-South Horse Review in mid-June 2022. We are leaving you in the capable hands of Lauren Pigford Abbott, who was the first graphics arts person we hired in 2009. She is a horse and dog person, with a degree in Journalism from the University of Mississippi. She has extensive experience in publishing. After leaving us in 2010 she went on to work for the Memphis Business Journal and worked alongside every department: editorial, advertising, circulation and design for over a decade. She returned and acquired both publications from us in June 2022. She has planned the Field Trial Review rebrand thoughtfully to Hunt & Field, transitioning it to a quarterly magazine covering a variety of horse and dog hunting sports in addition to the National Championship.

When we first took over Don Dowdle’s “Review” legacy in 2009, we didn’t know much about bird dog field trials or the National Championship. But you welcomed us into your world and taught us all about the sport. We are grateful to all the people who helped us along the way and contributed to the making of the Field Trial Review each year. The Ames folks, Beth Hannah, Rick Carlisle, Allan Houston, and Jamie Evans were essential. Brad Harter contributed multiple articles and photos to the FTR each year and mailed out the publication with every National Championship video purchased. Folks know how hard he works filming the National Championship all day and then editing film and photos at night. Chris Mathan and Mazie Davis got us started on the “successful women in field trialing” series and Chris contributed stunning photos of dogs and great stories about youth field trials. Ken Blackman became a valuable friend, introducing us to the people involved and their history with the dogs. Steeple Bell (and Amy Spencer) provided detailed information about the dogs running in each year’s National Championship. Gary Lockee kept us focused on Grand Junction - the Bird Dog Capital of the world - and shared his wisdom accumulated over the ages as he guided tours of the Bird Dog Museum. Tonya Brotherton, and her predecessor David Smith, kept us informed about all events at the Bird Dog Museum, and Regina Brotherton and the Hickory Valley folks provided wonderful hospitality over the years. Thanks to William Smith for his in-depth articles about the sport and to Berny Matthys for his contributions from American Field. Many thanks to Vera Courtney for generously sharing her photos and for her guidance around the field trial course and introduction to many great people. We have gotten to know so many fine folks in the field trial world, and we greatly appreciate all you have done for us and the Field Trial Review.

We gained a tremendous respect for the Tennessee Walking Horses, and other gaited horses, who safely carry folks across the terrain at Ames Plantation for the three-hour braces; who obediently ground tie; and who carry tired bird dogs back to the kennels after their runs.

We enjoyed the heartwarming stories of these outstanding champion dogs who were family pets in their “off” time. There were stories about dogs resting on the couch with their favorite person.

We wrote about 2010 National Champion In the Shadow, owned by Carl Bowman, who rode in the car to the bank to get treats from the bank teller as he looked out the sunroof. The magnificent Setter Shadow Oak Bo, handled by the late Robin Gates and owned by the late Butch Houston, put in two outstanding performances to be the first Setter in 43 years to win the National Championship - twice in a row, in 2013 and 2014.

We have gotten to know and respect the best dog trainers, breeders, and handlers in the sport, as well as the devoted, enthusiastic dog owners. We enjoyed publishing stories about past bird dog champions (Brad Harter), the history at Ames (Jamie Evans), and the funny misadventures of Allan Houston. Every photo we took of Rick Carlisle shows him smiling - whether at the beginning of a brace or at the end. Piper Huffman is always photogenic and one of the best looking field trailers in the gallery. We finally got a photo of the most popular Scout, Nick Thompson, on the cover of the FTR one year. Our most popular cover photo was of Rachel Blackwell Russell and Coldwater Thunder (aka Lulu, 2021 National Champion). Another popular photo was of Gary Lester kissing his wife on the steps of the Ames Manor House in 2022. And we got to know and enjoy the cuisine of the best chef ever - the late Catherine Bowling-Dean of Me and My Tea Room.

We have certainly enjoyed our 13 years with the Field Trial Review, although not the late Saturday nights completing the last pages to send to press. The latter years of broadcasting the drawing on Facebook, with Jamie and Dee Evans posting the order of go on the Ames website, greatly facilitated that task. There is not room herein to name all the people who helped us at the Field Trial Review, but rest assured, we are grateful to all of you who helped us learn the ropes and get the job done.


Tommy & Nancy Brannon


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