Heelwork to Music in the UK

Paws and Music
November 2016


A general point on the dressage rounds from this show is that insufficient attention is being paid to the required content in the Progress Awards, which give excellent guidance on the moves you would expect to see in a good quality dressage round. Forward trotting at a variety of heel and free positions does not approach the variety and complexity of the skills that a good dressage dog should be demonstrating in competition. Only one of the rounds below (and I know this handler does progress awards) did so. On a positive note, the music selections were appropriate and matched the dog’s trot pace, and all the rounds made a good use of the space available.

1st - Val Kelsey and Janjoy Misko Maiden (WSD) performing to Rumour Has it by Adele.

This dog is steady and has a solid trot with good rhythm. The choreography was a bit limited however, confined mainly to forward trotting in heel and free positions. The serpentine was made too tight, so the rhythm was lost on the changes of direction.


1st -Esther Kent with Gosport Riva (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) performing to Counting Stars by One Republic

An interesting and varied round incorporating all the moves you would expect to see in an advanced dressage round. Riva has a really good steady trot holding the 1,2,3,4 rhythm throughout. Good pacing on the part of the handler to keep Riva’s rhythm throughout a wide range of moves/patterns. Particularly good free circles around the handler.

2nd - Cathy Bates and Ruskath Lyrical Image (WSD) performing to Next to Me by Emili Sande

Cathy has some novel moves including a piaff on the spot (which sadly didn’t quite hold together this time), a very pretty high trot as well as ordinary trot; and alternating half passes from the back to the front of the ring. Lovely serpentine in free position.

Jan Debnam - Head Judge

Starters Heelwork To Music

Head Judge David Moxon; Second Judge Donna Wallington;

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

Those that did well today were those that were steady and more importantly provided a routine that covered recognisable HTM moves. At this level, it is not about showing all eight positions but shoulder needs to be approximately level with and reasonably close to the handlers leg for those positions to count. If you have a strong left hand heelwork position, then ideally this should be matched in other positions to give consistency but for starters I would make allowances given most dog training is left hand orientated. There was a mix of slow, fast as well as normal and attempts at directions, forwards, backwards, side left and side right. More than enough to work on but as I say you cannot expect to include everything. Out of the three categories it is worth remembering that Accuracy is perhaps the more challenging for HTM.

Those going home with the rosettes were:

1st - Ellis O’Grady with Jackpotstud First Spot. Clumber Spaniel dog, 5 years old. Overall score of 17.70 performing to Cups by Anna Kendrick. Good positions and a happy worker. First in the running order. Links between positions worked well but as you progress through the classes you will need to tighten some of your heelwork positions. Well done.

2nd - Pat Williams with Wumblibumbly Flopsy Mopsy, Border Collie bitch, 7 years old. Overall score of 17.40 performing to Radedsky March by Vienna Philharmonic. Steady and able. Short routine which I would not knock (sometimes better than too long) but this dog is capable or more and this could have provided more marks for content. Accuracy good for what was seen. Watch the noise level so it does not take over. Minor at this stage.

3rd - Wendy Atkins with Special Willow, Crossbreeed bitch, 5 years old. Overall Score 16.50 performing to Brown Girl in the Ring by Boney M. Steady in terms of what was done but need to watch the percentage of what may be Free Style versus HTM. Heelwork positions not always happening on command.

4th - Ellen Bothwick with Tetsimi Boodikka, Tibetan Terrier bitch, 3 years old performing to It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork. Overall Score 15.70. build on the heelwork content and go for accuracy. It will come.

5th - Lesley Tomlinson with Bertram de Worcester, Crossbreed dog, 5 years old performing to Hello Mary Lou by Ricky Nelson. Only odd snippets on the day to show that he can do it.

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

David Moxon
Working... Please wait