Judge's Report – Intermediate Freestyle
by Head Judge, Christina Oxtoby
Thank you to everyone who took part in this class, I enjoyed watching and judging your routines. After the class Helen Dennis (the other judge) and I met up to compare notes. We were mostly in agreement, and had a really interesting chat about the few times where we had viewed things differently. I know that it is usual to only write a report for the top few teams and write a general message about the class as a whole, however considering the fact that only 4 dogs worked out of the class of 11 (the rest doing training rounds, some of which were intended, some of which weren't!) I wondered if some of the other handlers might find some feedback helpful? If you do, great, if not please feel free to ignore it!I'm sorry but I don't know some of their pet names, so am not writing any of them in. As a general comment I would have liked to see more variety in the number of moves that are known, and also perhaps some distance work, or work behind the handler's back for those that are ready to move into Advanced (obviously this would suit some dogs more than others, so don't try to add this in if your dog is unlikely to be happy and confident about it yet.) Also, be careful to make sure that you think about changes in the music and highlights in the music rather than just general themes that you are working to. Generally handlers did think about this, but some did more so than others.
1st - Ashleigh Butler and The Closet Monster of Ashpen – Crossbreed – 22.05
A good routine with Ashleigh managing to dance to the music as well as help her dog to do the same. I liked the moves and the fact that your dog was keen to move quickly between them. I also liked the fact that you were good at changing style as the music changed, and although you didn't choreograph to a theme, I liked the dance style fitting the music. Just be careful as your dog lands from the high jumps that they don't start trying to take any weight on their back legs (they're not doing at the moment, but just be careful they don't start trying to!) Well done on your win today and my only other comment would be as you move up you'll need to build up your repertoire of moves.
2 - Linda Webster and Isabella Gal – WSD – 21.85 This was a routine that left me feeling light hearted and happy by the end of it, partly because of the routine and partly because it showed a lovely partnership between dog and handler, and because of that (and the fact that this is also what the music intended to do) I liked the overall interpretation of it. I think now is a good time to start to increase the number of moves that your dog knows to add more variety, and I could see the beginnings of some distance work. However, I did mark you down for repetition of heelwork in a freestyle routine (it may well have been within the allowable amount, but it isn't something that will increase your content mark, particularly when it is repeated.) Well done though, I really liked the 'feel good' routine!
3 - Sarah Smith and Forever Just Fen – WSD – 21.25 Some good ideas about theme and ideas for the music and some creative ways of thinking about keep fit. Although the dog generally worked nicely there were a few missed cues. Just be careful you don't repeat moves too many times (giving paws) and I would ideally like to see less heelwork in a freestyle routine – other than than that very well done!
4 - Ann DeRizzio and Stillmoor Red Sky At Night – Border Collie – 21.05 This young boy shows lovely promise for the future. He's a typical boy collie in still being quite young and immature, and at the moment it shows in his work, but he has a great attitude and it's a credit to Ann's handling that even when he got things a little confused he remained happy and relaxed throughout. There's a good theme and I especially liked the skipping under the brolly that worked well with the change of music. I'm sure as he matures he will increase the number of moves that he knows, and perhaps some of the props could be used in a variety of ways? Well done on some lovely handling, some good ideas and a fab boy!
Elaine Jubb and Strandrise Girl – English Springer Spaniel Training Round - Lovely sympathetic handling and some nice moves starting to happen. The dog seemed a little overawed to begin with, but relaxed once you were both moving around a little more. Perhaps this dog might benefit from quite a bit of flowing movement, especially near the beginning of a routine?
Karen Braden and Maisie Mae Blue Moon Dancer - WSD
Training Round – Well done with the car wash theme, some really good ideas in the making there, and some nice send aways starting to happen. It was interesting that Helen and I had different ideas about you 'washing' your dog with a mop. Helen was fine with it and said that it would add to the degree of difficulty (which I agree with) because the dog would want to move out of position, I would have marked you down for 'handling' your dog in the ring – it just goes to show that judges have different ideas!
Iris Maxfield and Just Call Me Rolo - WSD
Training Round – This was short and sweet, so much so that I don't really have any comments written down! I hope you found it helpful to practice the start and end. :o)
Debbie Moore and Mika Mariska - WSD
Training Round - I really liked the painting theme and the creative ideas that you had around it. There was the beginnings of some nice distance work and I liked the rock solid beg that your dog did to start with. It was a pity that after such a promising start you both lost 'flow' and because of that your dog seemed to loose confidence so it was probably good that you were able to regain their confidence by turning it into a training round (if they like toys would you find it helpful to reward in the ring during a training round, or are they not a toy motivated dog?) Possibly in future you could help to settle them again by doing some simple flowing moves and then moving back into your intended routine once they seemed happy again? Just a thought…
Karen Bartaby and The Sorcerer - WSD
Training Round – Many dogs can go very flat in the ring, however I can't imagine that this would ever be the case for yours! I imagine that you're working on the 'singing' and I don't know your dog well enough to comment further, other than to say that I think I might be inclined to perhaps think about concentrating on calm, quiet, thinking and being still if it was one of my high drive collies and them learning some self control…? As I said though, I don't know what you're working on so you may or may not find that helpful? I was very impressed with the speed and distance of your reverse and also the moves behind your back though, so very well done on those!
Louise Ince and Decoymans Piper Edward – Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Training Round - I think that this was one of those moments (I suspect we've all had them) when our dog enters the ring without their brain! There were some good ideas but he just wasn't thinking or working with you, was he? Having said that I particularly liked the creative use of the bin. The only comment I'd add would be, be careful with the work behind your back. The reverse was fine, but as soon as you turned your head and started to go sideways he left his back end behind. Is it possible that he's accidentally learnt that your head turn means a change of position rather than just a change of direction? Also, your left shoulder back is probably what keeps him straight moving to his right, and as your turned you brought that shoulder forwards and your right shoulder back, which probably had the opposite effect to the one you intended.
Louise Ballard and Kasamdiamond Truly Forever – Border Collie
Training Round – I loved the 'flow' of this routine which looked seamless. The crawl was also good, and I liked the different use of the chairs.