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Heelwork to Music in the UK

STARTERS FREESTYLE - Head Judge Jan Debnam

This was an interesting class with some very promising rounds, and some novel ideas. A very good range of breeds to enjoy as well.

In some rounds the moves were a bit rushed, so that they were not completed as stylishly as they could be. In addition, please make sure that chosen moves are not incompatible with a dog’s construction. I am very concerned about the long term consequences of any dog being asked to walk backwards on their hind legs.

1st - Cathy Chambers and Ellbriar Can Can (Golden Retriever) Score 20.30

There was a good strong theme to this routine, with the props used well and properly integrated into the choreography, which added to the interest and audience appeal. The dog performs a good variety of moves, which are generally well presented.

2nd - Isa Randle and Jed Jess Lucky Born to Dance (Chihuahua) Score 19.35

This was a lovely bright round with this tiny dog using an impressive amount of space. The choreography included a good range of moves that took full advantage of his diminutive size.

Naomi Evans and Stillmoor Cloudy Sunset (Border Collie) Score 18.75

This handler had obviously been working hard on reducing hand signals to this dog, which made for a stylish performance. A little more variety in the type of moves will help with the content and musical interpretation in this routine. The moves that were completed were done well.

3rd - Caroline Lavelle and Guadi de Plateaux des Haut Doubs (Border Collie) Score 18.7

There were some nice ideas in this round, and many moves were competed well. The dog was a little over exuberant at times though and his tendency to bounce detracted from what he was doing.

Starters Musical Dressage Head judge - Jan Debnam

Some very promising dressage rounds in this class, with handlers using patterns, varying paces and directions to add interest. The music was usually correct for the dog’s trot pace.

1st - Jill Van Essen and Bellisima Bella (Crossbreed) Score 20.25

The choreography included a good range of moves in heel and free positions, at both walking and trotting paces, which were performed well. The moves were predominantly forwards, with a very nice serpentine.

2nd - Lizzie Dyche and Harvey Nics (Crossbreed) Score 18.4

There was a good range of direction and patterns in this round, which also used both walking and trotting paces, although at times Harvey was inclined to pace. But he was consistent within that gait! Lizzie struggled to maintain enough speed to allow Harvey to complete a serpentine at a trot, but other moves were done well at a consistent pace and (I know Lizzie was delighted by this) quietly!. He did a particularly nice stretch of sideways work.

3rd - Becky Lamphries and Flicker in Flame (Crossbreed) Score 17.55

This dog looks very stylish when trotting, and there were some very nice sections in this routine. Becky needs to allow more space on the curves of the serpentine so the dog can complete the move without breaking out of trot pace.

4th - Caroline Lavelle and Genabacab Light Ruby (WSD) Score 16.8

Another dog that can look stylish when moving, but at times was lacking a bit of focus on this occasion and bounced a bit. The choreography needs the inclusion of some more patterns, directions and paces to add interest and show the dog off to best advantage.





Class: Starters Dances with Dogs Head Judge: Gina Pink (replacing Lesley Brocklehurst)

Number of entries: 7 Number of dogs worked: 4 with one training round

My thanks to Paws N Music Committee for asking myself and Lesley Brocklehurst to judge this class.

A mixed class with the usual problem of either the dog doing all of the work and the handler just walking around or the handler doing the entire dance moves with the dog just walking around. Dances with Dogs is not an easy class as both dog and handler must perform together.

1st - Becky Layphries with Flicker In Flame, Crossbreed, performing to If I Didn’t Have You by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Becky’s first HTM show today and so was a little nervous to be expected but did a good pivot and synchronised moves coupled with good handler footsteps and hand movements whilst the dog was still working. Overall score 18.90. Congratulations

2nd - Margaret White with Blue Jay Corvidae, Working Sheepdog, performing to Tennessee Waltz by George Moody. Very high drive dog! Weaving a bit messy but synchronised moves were good. Footsteps started off very well with 1,2,3 but quickly developed into 1,2,3,4 which the waltz isn’t. Good credible round. Overall score 18.65. Well done

3rd - Donna Wallington with Pippie Squeak, Lakeland Terrier, performing to Insecure Tango by Katy Lee. Very well performed by Donna throughout the routine but unfortunately the dog wasn’t so could have been placed higher if you can get her to work a bit more with you. Overall score 18.40

4th - Lizzie Dyche with Harvey Nics, Crossbreed, performing to Skaters Waltz by Waldeufel. Good round the chair work and sideways moves but barking really let you down today. Overall score 14.90

Class: Novice Dances with Dogs Head Judge: Gina Pink with Cathy Bates

Number of entries: 2 Number of dogs worked: 2 with one training round

My thanks to Paws N Music Committee for asking myself and Cathy Bates to judge this class.

1st - Barbara Bigg with Catcombe Crystal Connor, Golden Retriever, performing to Hernando’s Hideaway by Alfred Hause. A good attempt on the handlers’ part to complete dance footsteps and arm movements but the dog gave me the impression the choice of music was a tad too slow for him leading to him becoming distracted by movement outside of the ring. However, he really liked his hat targeting and that was when his true movement came to life. Well done. Overall score 17.25

Unfortunately the second competitor in this class, Barbara Houston’s dog left the ring and so was eliminated from the class. I know how hard you work with this dog Barbara so please don’t give up and better luck n 2015.
Class: Novice Musical Dressage Head Judge: Gina Pink

Number of entries: 3 Number of dogs worked: 3

My thanks to Paws N Music Committee for asking myself and Lesley Brocklehurst to judge this class.

1st - Kay Laurence with Genabacab Light Merlot, Working Sheepdog, performing to Cloud Atlas by Tom Tykwer. An excellent demonstration of dressage. Targeting a cane draped in purple cloth the dog showed off some excellent up head trotting, variation of speeds and sideways working; excellent musical interpretation. Well deserved first place with an overall score of 26.55

2nd - Nicky Maxwell with Ironlake Seferino, Large Munsterlander, performing to Moulinet-Polka by Johann Strauss Orchestra. Used a pink top hat as a target for some of the routine. Some of the transitional moves were messy and the dog lost concentration in places but a very good routine in the making. Overall score 22.45

3rd - Jennie Fairweather with Ock I The Noo, Cairn Terrier, performing to Victory by Bond. A lot of barking and slow to get the dog started; it clearly didn’t quite go to plan but never mind, you did perform some good moves when you got the dogs concentration back onto you. Well done. Overall score 14.20
Show: Paws N Music Association (Andover)

Venue: Andover Leisure Centre, Andover, Hampshire

Date of Show: Saturday 22 November 2014

Class: Crufts Advanced HTM Qualifier Head Judge: Gina Pink

Number of entries: 13 Number of dogs worked: 10

My thanks to Paws N Music Committee for asking myself and Lesley Brocklehurst to judge this class. PnM tried out a new method with the score sheets at this show leaving the judges to complete each sheet with the dogs ring number etc. As I expressed on the day of the show this did not sit well with myself and other judges on the day as it held up dogs ready and waiting to work and disjointed the flow of concentration. Sorry, but I do believe these things should be ready for the judge on the day to allow a smooth running of the show.

Being the very last chance to qualify for the Crufts Semi Finals I did expect a higher entry, but maybe everyone who wanted a qualifier has already got theirs. We saw some newbie’s to this level of classes where I’m afraid the nerves got the better of them, but I am positive it will be a different matter come next year. The more experienced handlers therefore shone through and the placings were as follows: I have to stress that this wasn’t exactly my line-up but that is what happens with our judging structure.

1st - Caroline Garrett with Wildsea Phoenix of Fire, Border Collie. Caroline made a music change on the day and performed to Shindlers List. Both moved effortlessly around the ring; good moves content and variation of speeds; good musical interpretation. Already qualified for the Crufts Semi Finals and should do well in January if this level of standard can be maintained. Overall score 26.55

2nd - Michelle Dodson with Kinaway Doctor Kildare, Border Collie, performing to Hero by China National Symphony Orchestra. Wearing a very attractive Chinese top Michelle worked the little dog using very few hand lures; a good variation of heelwork positions and speeds; good musical interpretation; a little noise from the dog but kept well under control. Gained a Crufts Semi Final Qualifier today. Overall score 25.75

3rd - Penny Draper with Kinaway Miss Congeniality, Border Collie, performing to Alice Returns by Danny Elfman. Excellent outfit dressed as the Mad Hatter; a few messy transitional moves and hand lure required in some areas but other than that a very good performance acting out the story. Gained a Crufts Semi Final Qualifier today. Overall score 25.45

4th - Carole Dodson with Kinaway Doctor Porter, Border Collie, performing to Illuminelle by London Philharmonic Orchestra. Messy transitional moves and some out of position moves dropped you down the line-up today of an otherwise very credible routine. The dog is obviously very well schooled but I can fully relate to the stresses of running a show as well as competing with a dog so better luck with this little man next year. Overall score 24.70


Novice Freestyle , Judges – Lesley Brocklehurst and Angela Richens.

16 ‘teams’ completed their routines out of 23.Overall a mixed standard [though better than I have seen recently] with the top few worthy of their points and places. Some however need much further work especially on focus and partnership. If a dog keeps wandering off around the ring or is so unhappy/stressed it cannot respond to cues and encouragement then clearly it is not yet ready for competition in unfamiliar environments. The basic training and control MUST be in place first, always making it fun and rewarding, so the dog wants to be performing with you, in a happy, relaxed, natural and willing manner.

1st, scoring 22.15, Debbie Moore and Mika Mariska, performing to Matchstick Men and Matchstick Cats and Dogs. Action packed with good timing and phrasing, interpreting both music and lyrics well. Props were appropriate and well used eg circling and weaving in the 3 legged easel [just try to get rid of the overt arm signals!] Loved the ending where the dog covers her face when shown the portrait, ever though she missed the stool when backing – so funny from the judges view point!! Well done on coping with the music failure.

2nd, scoring 22.10. Jan Debnam with Chesepi Indian Valley, performing to the Dolly Suite and Me and my Teddy Bear. Excellent interpretation of music/story, with both partners laying the table and sharing tea [plus lots of kisses!]and then off to play games together. Both moving through the hoop was innovative and effective, good spacial awareness, both vertical and horizontal, including interesting patterns of movement across the floor. Moves well chosen to suit music, dog and theme. Costume and props all relevant, aiding interpretation and childhood reminiscences!

3rd, scoring 22.10, Tricia Hollingshead and Quizically Quizz, perfotming to Puffin’ Billy. I do like a routine to have a definite start and finish, which this one demonstrates admirably. Beginning with a simple pose, Tricia sounded the horn by pretending to pull the dog’s tail! Excellent interpretation of the music and theme. An interesting and varied performance with good prop interaction and most cues subtly integrated into the choreography, in particular the use of the flags. The end pose was a high supported stand with both dog and handler throwing back their heads; very effective.

4th, scoring 21.25, Susan Wolf with Nakuru Mayfly, performing to Teddy Bear’s picnic. A delightful interpretation starting with this lovely goldie carrying a basket. A gentle flowing slow paced routine suiting the dog. Roll overs were messy, requiring re training to achieve fluid and controlled movement. Super ending where the dog chose a teddy and then laid down, using it as a pillow for her head – bit of an “Ahh” moment!!

Close on their heels were – Lucy Heath, great potential here but I would suggest a stronger theme/story for Freestyle. Tierney Hill who used her music to great effect as the volume and speed built up. Lorraine Rohland who used her music “Older Ladies” and the zimmer frame well. Jill Van Assen with the sparkly shoes and the red ‘heart’ her dog retrieved so deftly from the box. Claire Steventon, please omit the jump up your back for the sake of your dog incase it goes wrong.
Show Reports from Head Judge David Moxon

Thank you to Paws N Music for the invitation to judge. Hospitality and arrangements were excellent. I enjoyed my day and thank you to the helpers in keeping the competitors and scores sheets flowing.

I was head judge for Starters HTM and Intermediate Freestyle so reports are below. I was number 2 for Intermediate HTM where Paul and I were unanimous in our verdict for that line up.

For starter HTM those that did well today were those that were steady and more importantly provided a routine that covered recognisable HTM moves. At this level I am not looking for all eight positions but would like four or five where “dogs shoulder is approximately level with and reasonably close to the handlers leg” for those positions. If you have a strong left hand heelwork position then ideally this has to be matched in other positions to give consistency. There is then the mix of slow, fast as well as normal and directions forwards backwards, side left and side right. More than enough to work on but as I say you cannot expect to include everything.

Those going home with the rosettes were:

Starter HTM: A bit of deviation in terms of the two judges in their preferred order for the top four but the joint results provided the following:

1st - Caroline Lavelle with Gaudi de Plateaux des Haut Doubs. C – 6.30 A 7.95 I 7.85 Total 22.10. Border Collie performing to Diggin on James Brown by Tower of Power. Good strong positions but needs to increase the HTM position content. Also watch the hand touches going forward. Nice flow and was a routine that you could follow which went with the music. Well done.

2nd - Cathy Chamber with Elibriar Can Can. C - 6.90 A – 7.0 I 8.10 Total 22.00. Golden Retriever performing to The Syncopated Clock by Leroy Anderson. Just missed out on first but had the stronger content and interpretation but accuracy not as strong as the overall winner. Strong Left Hand heelwork. Happy worker that stepped out. Work on the links and getting on to position before moving off.

3rd - Carole Thornley with Corndon Zoe at Aricia C – 6.65 A – 6.25 I 7.0 Total 19.90. Border Collie performing to La Playa by Francis Goya. I would prefer a stronger more accurate position but it was consistent. Also the handler tended to move to position rather than the dog working towards this. Mellow music but need to watch the vocals (barking) that were starting to be heard – not penalised but noted.

4th - Jill Van Assen with Bellisima Bella C – 6.15 A - 5.85 I – 7.05 Total 19.05. Crossbreed performing to Sweet like chocolate by Shanks and Bigfoot. Small dog that does hold a position but may need to look at these. E.g. front across was lagging. Handler can help by giving time for the dog to hit the position before moving off. May need to get your commands in earlier. Steady, nice pitch and rhythm to work with.

5th - Susan Wolf with Nakuru Mayfly. C – 5.60 A – 5.40 I 6.60 Total 17.60. Golden Retriever performing to Raindrops keep falling on my head by BJ Thomas. Happy dog, tail wagging throughout. Some handling in to position and still tended to be wide (not close) or crabbing.

6th - Tierney Hill with Dexy’s Cabreigh Star. C 6.0 A – 5.75 I - 6.65 but barking (-0.85) Total 17.55. Labrador performing to Colonel Bogey March by FJ Ricketts.

Take care with the amount of Freestyle to HTM especially as your HTM positions are not always strong and can be working wide, so not a position. Handler and dog more than capable based on what could be seen.

7th - Caroline Lavell Genabacab Light Ruby, WSD Total 15.90. More Freestyle than HTM but that may have been because attention went elsewhere as the routine progressed.

8th - Nicky Maxwell Ironlake Saferino, Large Musterlander. Total 15.55. Handler kept going but attention not strong.

Intermediate Freestyle: 

Both judges agreed the order with only two working.

1st -Vee Richardson, Langress Wild Card C – 6.9 A – 6.35 I – 7.55 Total 20.80. WSD performing to Amazing Grace by The Fling by Royal Scots Dragoon. Good mix of content but some missed cues or Joker doing his own thing. Had rhythm and interpretation was evident. Good luck in Advanced classes.

2nd - Iris Maxfield Just Call Me Rolo. C - 6.3 A – 5.60 I 6.80 (Barking -0.65) Total 18.05. WSD performing to Roar by Katy Perry. A little too much noise at times and paid in terms of missing cues and attention not always on handler. Has the content, which can be developed.

Finally thank you to all the competitors. Hopefully all handlers and dogs were able to go home having enjoyed their day.

David Moxon
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