Heelwork to Music in the UK

Rugby DTC
Crufts Semi-Finals show
                                      Richard Curtis - Judges report

Crufts HTM semi final

Thank you to Erica and Rugby dog training club for the invitation to judge the semi final. The standard was fairly level across the majority of the class it seeming a lot of teams gaining twenty four points. To set yourself out from the crowd you really need crisp clean heelwork positions with the dog engaged in the job in hand. Perhaps due to nerves transmitting from the handler not all dogs were as consistent in their positions as they could be.

1st - Lucy Creek and Harriot skiffle king

Skiffle held such good heelwork positions throughout the routine and at a variety of paces. His focus was a hundred per cent on what he was being asked to do. The music was well interpreted with a nice change from the sadness to the “love of life” which tapped into people’s emotions.

2nd- Annette Lowe and Kinaway Mystic Spires

Good choice of music here and excellent timing from the handler to hit certain accents in the music A flashy dog who so enjoys his work perhaps a little too much a times but then the good dogs are never easy.

3rd - Kay Laurence Genabacab Light Merlot

A lovely inventive routine here from Kay which took us through the day in the life of a waiter. Clever use of the tray to help the dog and as usual minimal vocal commands from Kay.

4th - Cathy Bates and Ruskath Lyrical Image

A competent performance as we have come to expect from this team. Sometimes positions not as accurate as they could be

5th - Caroline Garrett and Wildsea Phoenix of Fire

Performing to Phantom of the opera this team produced a smooth performance with quality positions and directions.

6th - Susan Dooney and Murphy Mischief

Susan and Murphy flowed well around the ring although perhaps not quite as together as I have seen them before.

Crufts freestyle semi final

Thank you to Erica and Rugby dog training club for the invitation to be the head judge. As usual a very well organised day with fantastic food.

The routines were mixed in their standard, I would expect at this level to see some advanced category moves. Many handlers I marked for the loud vocal commands that they were giving, some of the movements could have been taught to a body signal that was part of the routine rather than shouting commands. Also having to command the dog several times while doing a move I wouldn’t have expected to see so much of at this level. I am reminded of something I was told when I started which was a routine should be like a magic trick, you see the trick but you don’t know how its down or with a routine it looks like dog and handler are working via telepathy.

1st - Lucy Creek and Harriot Skiffle King

I think Lucy must have decided on a death theme to this year’s routines for Skiffle as with a tombstone and cross there was no guessing what the theme was. Skiffle is such a talented dog working up close and at a distance, on his past and current work he must be one of the superstars of the sport.

2nd - Kim Lyddon and Canen You Said What

Well Kim had obviously decided that showing her legs like she did last year was a lucky omen as this time they peeped out from below the blue boxing shorts. Kim’s acting helped to convey the theme with Tyler winning the match at the end.

3rd - Karen Sykes and Kingsfarm Surprise surprise

A routine to tug on the heart strings, well acted by Karen and the moves well executed by Midge. A team I think will go from strength to strength as more moves and difficulty are added to Midges repertoire. Impressed with this little bitch in both classes and one to watch for the future

4th - Mary Ann Nester and Bryning Vanquish

This was such a lovely flowing routine from this pair which used the props well. The music seemed to suit the team with Mary ann dressed of course in her top and tails

5th - Annette Lowe and Kinaway Mystic Spires

An enthusiastic soul this boy who did at times get a little excited by the job in hand. A competent routine which had obviously been well practised.

6th - Anne Shuker and Splish Splash

The theme of an injured dog needing help was the idea here. Good retrieving and placing articles in objects showcased this skill well.

Advanced heelwork to music (non crufts semi-finals).

Judges: Jan Debnam and Michelle Hubbard

Thank you to Erica Hyde and the rest of the Committee for inviting me to judge at this show. This is a lovely venue, with a good sized ring and plenty of space for the dogs to warm up. The ring parties were helpful and kind to the competitors, keeping everything running as smoothly as they could. The kitchen team also did sterling work looking after the catering essentials!

Overall, few of the rounds used the available space, concentrating moves in a limited portion of the ring. The orientation of the moves towards the judges could also have been improved. A number of the dogs were out of position, particularly in the reverse heelwork positions, with the dog well in front of the handler.

1st. Lesley Brocklehurst and Rehyrb Makaya (Flatcoat Retriever). Performing to Palladio by Karl Jenkins and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Score 21.95.

This is such a big handsome dog who looks wonderful when he gets into his stride. He took a little while to settle into this round but then produced some lovely heelwork with a good variation of paces, direction, and position. A good variety of reversing and sideways moves, well placed and of sufficient duration to show that the dog can hold position.

2nd. Linda Webster and Isabella Girl (WSD) performing to Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of my Hair by Mitzi Gaynor. Score 21.65.

The choreography here also includes some nice variation of pace, direction and position. At the fast pace however there was considerable drift away from the correct heelwork position. It was nice to see however that this handler did not then use constant hand signals to hold the dog in position. The transitions between heelwork positions were also accomplished without undue help from the handler.

3rd. Martin Briggs and Wildsea Dash of Hope (Border Collie) performing to Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badlet. Score 20.95

There were some very nice stretches of sideways movement, once the dog settled. The handler was however using very obvious hand signals to hold the dog in position throughout the round. The choreography was more limited than the first and second placed rounds, with less recognition of the potential opportunities offered by the music.

4th. Jill Davis and Rosmarinus Cinnabar at Glidersway HTM A.Ex performing to Mad World by Jennifer Ann. Score 20.55.

This round is choreographed to very pretty music, but which perhaps allows less scope for introducing dynamic variation in the moves that are included. Some good stretches of accurate forwards heelwork, including a very nice zig-zag.

Jan Debnam – Head Judge.
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