Heelwork to Music in the UK

Canine Performers
Canine Performers Open HTM Show

At Kent County Showground, 17 and 18 September 2016.

Thank you to Louise for the invitation to judge at the 2 shows. Very well organised, spacious venue and plenty of interest outside with many stalls, eateries and ‘Have a Go’ dog activities.

Class 2, Novice HTM.

1st, Denise Jennings with terrier type x breed Popado Bishop Flower, scoring 20.95 . Such a happy and attentive little fellow! A wide range of positions at this level with side stepping, backing and variation of pace. Drifting wide at times list most marks from me.

2nd, Carole Dodson and BC Borderdance Dream Legend from Kinaway, scoring 20 .85. Variations of directional movement and pace were demonstrated in 4 positions, using the ring space well. The music was well interpreted and the routine flowed.

3rd, Susan Wolf and GR Nakuru Mayfly scoring 19.30. A good variety of speeds and directions within 4 different positions. Lovely flowing interpretation of “Any Dream Will Do”.

4th, Barbara Bigg and GR Catcombe Crystal Connor scoring 17.90. Full marks for the handler – so elegant and creative but more “umph” is needed from the dog who drifted wide and lagged at times. A lovely relaxing routine to watch.

General Comments – I know this was Novice but there was an awful lot of overt hand/ arm cuing, missed cues, lack of commitment and some wandering off. My low marks for Accuracy and Team Performance reflected these major issues. Some handlers try to cram in too many different positions and often beyond the dog’s capabilities at this level of competition.

Class 7, Intermediate FS .

1st, Claire Steventon and BC Stillmoor Lily Breeze, scoring 21.85. An energetic, fast moving routine, fully using the ring space and using the timing and phrasing of the music well. I am not a lover of the body pop jumps but this dog performed them with ease.

2nd, Jo Preston and collie x Sweet Cody Girl, scoring 21.60. Some creative and innovative moves, both tricks and ground covering movements, all appropriate for and inspired by the music – Pineapple Rag. Jo did not just pretend to be Charlie Chaplin, she lost herself in the role most convincingly. Well done – this was my winner and the whole performance was an inspiration.

3rd, Di Morgan and BC Darkquest Fancy That, scoring 19.55. A very competent routine but some missed cues and overt signals from the handler – Work in progress?!

4th, Jan Debnam and CBRetriever, Calandrella Algoma, scoring 19.55. The music – The Potion Room, and its nuances was well interpreted and acted out but the routine was rather restricted to the left side of the ring. Plenty of varied moves including opening a cupboard door and retrieves.

General comments – Moves should be finished/complete, but some handlers tended to rush on so the effect was messy and uncertain. In FS especially, there should be a strong and obvious theme or story, not just interpreting the rhythm and phrasing of your chosen piece.

Class 10, Novice Freestyle.

1st, Cathy Chambers and G Retriever Ellbriar Can Can, scoring 23.15. Action packed with some difficult moves including fabulous skipping where dog, handler and music were superbly in unison. An amazing costume and appropriate musical props for this music – Come Follow the Band. Well done, a worthy winner.

2nd, Amanda Jinks and boxer Stangard Waltz, scoring 18.00. An enjoyable if somewhat bouncy routine [often in time with the music however!] Excellent choice of music for this team who admirably played out the seaside/holiday theme with appropriate props and costume. I just love the ending where both lick ice creams!!!

3rd, Carol Hamley and little x breed Carol’s Choc Chip Cookie, scoring 17.25. A very keen and attentive little dog, a bit OTT at times but a joy to watch! Try to ensure when repeating sequences that they are different eg, position, direction or speed. Effective high paws and a super ending with a salute.

4th, Susan Wolf and ESSpaniel Exmoor Dark Sky, scoring 16.55. A fabulous 1939 vintage car and lovely start to the routine. The little rascal “stole” the duster and then ran amok around the ring [much to our amusement!] I suggest he is taught to polish the car with the duster and then put it somewhere out of the way. W.I.P. but could be a good routine.

General comments – some good and some promising routines but a lot of missed cues and OTT handler cues which need to be less obvious. Much hard work needed for the dogs who lack concentration and go off wandering or sniffing. Also, as stated for Int. FS, your routine should go beyond just musical interpretation and have a theme or story which is acted out.

I look forward to judging you all again and to see progress as your dogs gain confidence, mature and learn new behaviours. No one said this sport is easy but patience, perseverance and plenty of play and fun will reap rewards!!

Lesley Brocklehurst.

Jan Debmans report
This is a lovely venue, with plenty of the room for the dogs to be warmed up and to perform. The surface is good, and with Pete on the music this year everything went very smoothly. As normal, Louise and her team ran a relaxed and friendly show with a good atmosphere, allowing people and dogs to perform to their best. My impressions were that the public were slightly more problematic this year – less respectful of the performers and the disruption that their own dogs were causing?


Judges Jan Debnam and Donna Wallington.

It was really lovely to see the variety of dogs taking part in this class and working to a good standard.

1st. Cathy Chambers and Ellbriar Can Can (Golden Retriever) performing to The Syncopated Clock by Leroy Anderson. Score 25.15.

A delightful young dog who is already established in obedience and transferred her working ethic into this new discipline. A bright, interesting performance with plenty of content. Very entertaining to watch. We were all fascinated that Cathy’s key stayed in place throughout!!

2nd. Sue McAuliffe and Decoymans Piper Wilmer (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) performing to I will never let you down by Rita Ora. Score 21.9

This dog meant business from the moment she bustled into the ring. An interesting and varied performance with the dog very attentive throughout. Good content.

3rd. Ellis O-Grady and Jackpotstud First Spot (Clumber Spaniel) performing to Cups by Anna Kendrick. Score 19.55

This was a good choice of music for this partnership and they used the available space well. The choreography included a good variety of positions and directions.

4th. Sally Rapson and Doddridge Sahm (Whippet) performing to I’ll do Anything by Lional Bart. Score 17.9

The choreographic theme is clear in this round and there is a good use of space. A work in progress, to smarten up and bring more accuracy to holding the heelwork positions.


Judges Jan Debnam and Gina Pink

Cathy Bates and Ruskath Lyrical Image (WSD) performing to the Theme from the Godfather. Score 25.55

One of the few performances with the dog working without hand signals (and indeed using contrary hand positions) or encouragement to hold position. The choreography uses all the available space, is well orientated and respects the dynamic of the music. A good variety of positons and directions within positions. There is an unusual sequence in the middle with Cathy rotating along the length of the ring with Sybil in an across front heelwork position which may cause some divided views. To achieve the rotation Sybil is fairly central with respect to Cathy’s body.

2nd . Carole Dodson and Kinaway Doctor Porter (Border Collie) performing to Illumielle by Jo Blankenburg. Score 24.65

A more dynamic round than the winner, again with stylish choreography, using the space and the opportunities afforded by the music. The greater speed and dynamism led to some loss of accuracy in places, particularly when reversing, but a fabulous round to watch.

3rd.Lesley Brocklehurst and Genabacab Speck of Life (WSD) performing to Palladio performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Score 23.95.

A bit of brilliant busking as there was a mix up and this was not Alaska’s music (but Minstrel’s)! Huge fun. Alaska obviously didn’t mind and was happy to go with the flow, presenting good quality heelwork positions. There was evidently still some master plan in place as the choreography was great.

4th. Louise Ince and Decoymans Piper Edward (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) performing to Push by Salt “n” Pepa

My admiration to this partnership for still being up for it at the end of 2 very busy days!! Some good interesting content, really stepping it out in places. Troy was working hard. Some very good pivots!

Jan Debnam - Head judge.

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