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Heelwork to Music in the UK

Intermediate Freestyle at Forest Oak Farm on Sunday 20th April, 2014.


1st Helen Taylor with Stillmoor Silk n Satin, Border Collie, performing to The Little Train that Could/Polar Express by Burl Ives/Tom Hanks. Well all I can say is what a come-back. This lovely bitch has been away from the htm scene for two years with health issues but is now fully fit and obviously hasn't forgotten not only how to work but how to win. Their routine contained a wide variety of moves that perfectly matched the music and with a high degree of accuracy. Well done Helen.


2nd Cathy Bates with Ruskath Lyrical Image, Working Sheepdog, performing to Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast by Tony Christie. The talent of this extremely young bitch is amazing as she listens very intently to Cathy's instructions throughout this slow routine. This does tend to make Sybil look a little serious at times but that is just her personality as she is a very quiet and thoughtful little bitch and it was not the sort of music you would expect her to be leaping about madly to. The routine was choreographed superbly to the lyrics and I love the way she waves the hankie. Well done Cathy.


3rd Penny Draper and Delark Songbird, Tervueren, performing to Streets of London by Ralph McTell. I have always loved to watch Penny and Tally performing this routine together and I have to say I think this is the best I have ever seen them do it. Another slow and melancholic routine but a much-loved classic and Penny was suitably dressed as a down-and-out. Penny has not been competing with Tally for a while as she generously lent her to her young friend Jane to compete in the YKC competitions so it was lovely to see them together again. I had no idea that Penny was retiring Tally today so I was thrilled that she pulled out all the stops and tried so hard for her. Well done Penny.


4th Joanna Mayston and Mists of Tawny, Working Sheepdog, performing to Rocky Road to Dublin by The High Kings. This was a lively and spirited performance which was in sharp contrast to the two previous routines. Again a good variety of moves with only a few minor errors. Well done Joanna.

There were only two other runners in this class but they were not far behind the above four. It was a joy to watch you all - well done and I wish you every success at future competitions and a happy retirement for Tally.

Jill Davis - head judge





FOGCS HTM Show, held Forest Oak Farm, Glos. on 20April (Day 2)
Class: Novice Heelwork to Music.

Judges: Michelle Dodson and Penny Draper


General Comments:

There were some really fun new routines in this class for us judges to enjoy, with a number of handlers using the show to gain experience for their young dogs just hitting the show circuit. So it was unsurprising (and not unreasonable at this level) to see hand targeting in many of the routines. I did however have to mark down a fair few teams for almost continuous targeting or in some cases hand touching as a result. Otherwise there was definitely a lot of potential in this class and some teams which were almost certainly stars in the making.


1st. Claire Hitchins with Storm Beck Flicker of Gold

A young dog with a very bright future in the sport. This was a lovely, accurate and upbeat routine which was a joy to watch, although perhaps a work in progress in places. A nice range of positions demonstrated, although mainly forward movements, the routine would benefit from more directions if developed further. Be careful of the dog pushing on especially in the Side position (right side of handler/opp. to close), which was knocking out that lovely trot. Some really nice speed changes to match the phrasing of the music and good variety of floor patterns. Well done Claire and Flic!

2nd. Louise Ince with Decoyman’s Piper Edward

Another young dog, which I think most of us wanted to take home by the end of this routine. The dog was so attentive and up for it, the lovely bond between this pairing was apparent. The routine contained a good range of positions and directions, probably the dog walking backwards was the one area which did not work so well today. There was also a bit of hand touching, where the hand target was placed a bit to close to the dog’s nose height, that lost some marks. I really loved the slow pace work and the pace of the routine really suited the dog’s movement. Could have just done with a bit more interpretative elements to bump up that MI score.

3rd. Di Morgan with Hawkstor Out of the Blue for Darkquest HTM St. Ex.

Was really impressed with the musical interpretation in this routine. This team used a range of floor patterns, dance steps, directions, all nicely timed and choreographed to fit with the music. Sadly some marks were lost due to hand touching, targeting and some crabbing in heel positions (where the dog’s head is hooked around the front of the handler’s leg and therefore knocking the body and shoulder position out). I liked the creative use of (very accurately executed) pivots in the routine, but would have likes to see some more directions used in the heelwork to make it a winning routine. The half pass did not work so well today as the dog’s body was not straight enough to give the full effect. That said it was very hard not to start jigging about in your chair to this one.

4th. Naomi Baggeley with Jacobrad Sunday Girl in Paulincuss

Now then, what a dog. Bags of energy and agility for its breed and size, you must be delighted Naomi to have this star in the making. The musical interpretation was clear and appropriate if somewhat nervously executed. It was a delight to see such an excellent range of positions, directions and speeds for a Novice routine. First ¾ of the routine ran very smoothly, sadly in the remainder some control issues crept in with bouncing, nipping and hand mugging, all stuff to work on with this young dog. Definitely one to watch!

Michelle Dodson - head judge


Sunday Forest Oak Farm Starters freestyle

Head Judge - Helen Taylor

Overall this starters freestyle class had dogs of varying standards. Some dogs and handlers who I have no doubt will progress out of starters quickly. There were a few instances of control issues such as barking, recall issues and dogs nipping the handler's which need to be addressed but overall a nice class to judge.


1st. Susan wolf Nakuru Mayfly golden ret 22.25 teddy bears picnic

A lovely, attentive dog working very accurately. Good use of props to set the picnic scene and very good interaction between dog and props. A super end move interpreting the dog going to sleep holding the teddy bear. A worthy winner.

2nd. Nicky maxwell - Ironlake Serefinolarge - munsterlanderPick a pocket or Two - 21.55

Another attentive dog. Good costume and movement from the handler as Fagan. Good variety of moves. Some lovely ideas
in this routine including a nice end move with the dog picking the handler's pocket. Unfortunately the dog did bark a little bit and but overall a very promising pair!


3rd. Pat Thompson - Ladnar Diamonds r Forever at Espressebury, rough collie - 19.

Super movement from the handler to suit the music. A well choreographed routine with some good moves. I have seen this dog work better but unfortunately it seemed to be affected by the noise of the rain on the roof. Dog and handler kept working though, so well done!


4th. Di Morgan - Darkquest Fancy that Border collie - 18.55 Putting on the ritz

A reliable and attentive collie with a variety of moves. Worked well with the cane. The choreography was not as apparent in this routine as the top three dogs but this team also have a lot to offer and got a well deserved 4th.




FOREST OAK FARM HTM SHOW, 19APRIL 2014

Starters Freestyle. [co judge, Angela Richens]

1st, 19.60, Pat Thompson and Rough Collie Ladnar Diamonds are Forever

A gentle flowing routine to ‘Guitar Tango’, with good timing, choreography and musical interpretation. Used ring space well.
2nd ,18.15, Nikki Maxwell and Large Munsterlander, Ironlake Saferino. 

Expressive handler in super costume. Moves were well defined and ‘finished’. I loved the end where the dog picked the pocket and got more than expected!

3rd, 17.05, Di Morgan with her second BC in this class, Darkquest Fancy That.

Good range of moves, interpretation and use of ring space. This pair really did “Put on the Ritz” with superb costume and use of prop.

4th, 16.75, Jill Van Assen with poodle X Bellisima Bella.

A varied and interesting routine, good use of the space and interpretation of music and lyrics [If I Only Had a Heart]. Removing the lid from a box to retrieve the heart was cleverly executed and an excellent demonstration of appropriate props and their use. Pity about the bit of barking.


I was impressed by the effort so many made with their costumes and props, all helping to enhance Interpretation. Some routines did not use the ring space well – FS should include ground covering movements, not just tricks on the spot! Also apparent was the lack of focus; some dogs so easily distracted and others wandering or chasing around the ring. The handler must be ‘the best thing since sliced bread’, so much more practise and effort is needed to strengthen the partnership between handler and dog. Also, I like to see routines with a definite ending, not fizzling out before or after the music stops. Pulling or pushing the dog when it does not respond to cues incurs deductions, so be warned!

Lesley Brocklehurst - Head judge


Intermediate Heelwork, [co judge Alison Wilde]

1st 20.65, Wendy Allison with x breed Pied Boy. 

Good range of moves and ground covering patterns, such as a box and snaking serpentine. Overall, a neat and accurate performance with fast simple transitions and flowing stretches of heel work.

2nd 18.60, Joanna Mayston with WS Mists of Tawny. 

A wide range of positions, directions of movement and pace. Good use of ring space, attentive dog and appropriate prop [umbrella] well utilised.

3rd, 18.0, Paul Ballard with BC Indiana Joy of April

Moves and positions varied and use of space and interpretation of music good. Choreography well planned so dog moves were seen to best advantage. Paul looked the part as a “Backstreet Boy”!

4th, 16.95, Dylan Smith with BC Corriedhu Chase.

An energetic, fast moving routine where the strong handler/dog partnership was a joy to behold! Great potential – just need to keep the lid on the dog’s enthusiasm especially the FS bits - but WOW!

5th, 16.75, Jill Davis with BC Rosmarinus Cinnebar at Glidersway

Some clever and different moves such as the snaking side stepping. Matisse was distracted today, a pity but still a young dog.


General comments – Some stretches of heelwork were too brief with frequent position changes. This interrupted the flow and did not enable the dog to settle into the required movement. Please, Please, at this level of competition, get rid of the rigidly placed “obedience” hand and the twiddly fingers and leg patting!!! No names, but you know who I mean?!

Thank you to the FOF team for inviting me to judge at this, their first ever open HTM show.

Lesley Brocklehurst.

Forest Oak (Gloucestershire) Canine Society Open Heelwork to Music Competition. Sat 19th April 2014.
Class 8 Advanced Heelwork to Music (not Crufts Qualifier)

Judges Carol Mortimer and Paul Ballard

Running order 8 Michelle Dodson with Kinaway Doctor Kildare. BC performing to Titanium by David Guetta.
1st with 24.60

Michelle produced a unique and expressive routine to Titanium. Clever use of her whole body to cue the heelwork positions made them work in unison. Flowing heelwork and interesting patterns around the ring with dramatic changes of pace made the routine very watchable. Content and Musical Interpretation marks were high.

They got too close to the side of the ring at one point which cramped that section of the routine. This, combined with some small mistakes made the accuracy mark lower leaving room for improvement.

Coming a close second and worthy of a mention was Cathy Bates with Ruskath Lyrical Image. WS performing to Rose by Bette Middler.

The standard of the rest of the class was mixed which was expected as it was early in the season and people trying out new routines and/ or doing training rounds.

The venue is second to none with its excellent hall, good catering and camping with great facilities and dog walks. The atmosphere was welcoming and well run, a tribute to FOF and Show Manager Penny Draper. If you have not tried it you are missing out.

Carol Mortimer (Head Judge)






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