Heelwork to Music in the UK

Crufts 2020 – An Overseas Judge’s View Dawn Hill, Belgium

Preparing for Crufts

After the initial excitement of receiving the invitation it was time to settle down to read the UK Rules and Regulations.

In general, competitions around the world are judged in much the same way but there are subtle differences between for example FCI regulations and the UK rules and the score sheets are quite different. Many thanks to Kath Hardman who patiently answered my constant questions.

The UK Freestyle final

The time just before the class starts and walking out to the individual tables is quite stressful, but, the minute the first competitor walked out, everything else was forgotten and I was totally focussed on what I was watching. I didn’t even hear Dave Ray’s commentary. The only thing I was aware of was Gina Pink whispering in my ear if I failed to watch the teams leaving the arena!

The top two teams were so close. I loved both, but the speed and accuracy of Nicci Hindson’s routine gave them the edge for me. I was impressed with the high level of the routines in general and with the atmosphere of camaraderie behind the scenes.

UK HTM Final

I was really looking forward to this class because the UK teams are consistently highly placed in International events. Again for me the top two were hard to separate but for me Caroline Garrett had the edge on accuracy. In general, although the routines were all interesting and quite diverse, I did find that there were perhaps more hand signals than I would have expected at this level. I enjoyed the creativity of the handlers and every dog was obviously having the time of its life.

YKC HTM and Freestyle

On Saturday morning, we were invited to judge the YKC competitions. I really enjoyed this experience. Yes there were details; maybe some over excited dogs nipping at the handlers, but, in general so much hard work had been done and the choreographies were all so diverse and creative. The UK is lucky to have such an up and coming depth of talent.

The International Freestyle

Such a wealth of talent, it was a privilege to have a front row seat. All three judges had no doubt about the winner, Elke Boxoen with Jessy. Sadly the Italian competitors was unable to travel but in their place we had the French competitor who stepped in at the last minute and arrived just in time and Nicci Hindson who upped her game and took the third prize, along with lots of surprise routines and crowd pleasers.


Just a huge thank you to the whole Crufts team who worked so hard behind the scenes and helped the handlers and judges in every way that they could.
Photographs courtesy of Richard Moss
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