Heelwork to Music in the UK

Judges Report Paws in the Park Sept 16th and 17th 2017

Thank you to Louise and Gary for inviting me to judge at this friendly and well-run show in Kent.

Class 6 Novice Freestyle

A lovely variety of breeds to judge in this class, and good to see that most routines had a definite theme to suit the music.

1st. Laura Wiley with PemcaderBeckrow Dee Dee. Score 23.20 This corgi worked with great attention and attitude throughout, demonstrating a good selection of moves, some distance work, and all with very subtle cues. Very watchable and a worthy winner.

2nd. Ellis O’Grady with Jackpotstud First Spot. Score 20.95 Another dog with great attitude and drive. The routine was slickly choreographed and performed. Nice to see that some moves were performed behind the handler, increasing the degree of difficulty.

3rd. Kerry Brown with Oldquions Vagabond Boy. Score 20.60 This lovely Goldie worked with great enthusiasm and this routine was choreographed with some good ideas in keeping with the cow girl theme. Large hand signals and large cues reduced the accuracy score, but the routine was fun to watch.

4th. Bridget Jamieson with Dancing Miss Maisy. Score 20.60 A very happy little dog with great attitude throughout. A good variety of moves in keeping with the theme of Singing in the rain. Again, large hand cues and pointing reduced the accuracy score, but lovely to watch her enjoy performing.

Class 14 Novice Heelwork to Music

I think some dogs were tired by this stage of the show, and some handlers opted to do training rounds. There were some strong contenders for the top slots, and my co-judge Lesley Brocklehurst and I were in complete agreement with the placings.

1st. Laura Wiley and Moonstyle Mystic Frost. Score 23.60 This pairing was set apart from the rest of the class, working well with hands away and distractions (the dropping of flowers and the rowdy audience!). An elegant and well-choreographed performance. They have an exciting future ahead of them.

2nd. Tricia Hollingshead with Quizically Quiz. Score 22 A well-choreographed piece with the music and accents well interpreted. Quiz was enthusiastic and attentive throughout showing a lovely bond between handler and dog. Time now to work toward getting the hands out of heelwork position, but a very watchable routine.

3rd. Ellis O’Grady with Jackspot First Spud.Score 20.80 This dog has a great attitude to his work and held a good position going forwards. He also showed some good stretches of sideways movement adding variety to the performance. He hung back in one position but this can be corrected by looking up, rather than looking at him.

Vee Richardson - Head judge


Many thanks to Louise for inviting me to judge at this show – which truly is one of my favourites. This is a lovely venue, with a good sized ring and (very importantly) good loos!! Louise’s team create a brilliant atmosphere and keep everything running smoothly.

The introduction of additional barriers to keep the public away from the competitors worked very well, for the most part protecting the competitors from inappropriate behaviour – and I think also helped the audience to see and appreciate the competition better as they were not being disrupted by casual, rude behaviour from others. It was good to see the number of members of the public who came in just to sit down – but then stayed because they were interested in what they were seeing.


Judges Jan Debnam and Jo Preston

1st.Toni Salter and Tilly Cobblers (Crossbreed). Performing to Ground Force/ The Flight of the Bumblebee by Black Dyke Band/Scottish National Orchestra. Score 24.9

This was the stand out round of the class. It is very entertaining with a good story line. The props are used well and imaginatively, with all moves properly orientated so they can be seen by the judges. Most importantly, this gorgeous little dog was working cheerfully and happily throughout. A joy to watch.

2nd. Debbie Moore and Mika Mariska (WSD). Performing to We’re a Couple of Swells by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Score 22.45

A cool and stylish routine, nicely paced to show off the dog without stressing her. Excellent timing of moves with extremely sharp stimulus control and responsiveness to commands. The moves chosen interpreted the theme extremely well. Very good use of the space available.

3rd. Naomi Baggaley and Jacobrad Sunday Girl at Paulincuss (GSD). Performing to The Heat is on by Glenn Frey Score 20.8

There are some really difficult moves in this routine which has a lot of interest value. The music is well chosen and allows good strong musical interpretation. A few nerves appeared to be getting in the way of a clean performance on this occasion.

4th. Barbara Bigg and Catcombe Crystal Connor (Golden Retriever). Performing to The Flood by Take That. Score 20.55

This is a more sedate routine, which suits Connor. There is some really nice choreography with Connor working at a distance and parallel to his handler. A good use of space and variety of moves.

Starters Heelwork to Music 17/9/17

Judges: Jan Debnam and Donna Wallington.

1st. Michaela Gunning and Wot and Sparkler (WSD). Performing to The Glenn Miller Medley by Jive Bunny. Score 19.5

The choreography respected the pace and phraseology of the music and used the available space well. Some nice pivots and sideways moves in addition to forwards heelwork. There was a welcome variation in pace to reflect the music. The hand signals are still very obvious, but this is a Starters dog.

2nd. Josette O’Shaughnessy and Honeymist Minty Fox (Bedlington Terrier). Performing to Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheerin. Score 18.00

An interesting round including some nice patterns such as serpentine. The choreography also includes some well-placed sideways moves in a variety of positions.

3rd. Christine Crawford and Kingsfarm Snowdrift (Border Collie). Performing to Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean. Score 16.05

This round made good use of the available space and showed respect for the pacing and phraseology of the music. There was less content than the previous rounds and the dog was struggling to hold a consistent heelwork position at times.

4th. Catherine Care and Porterble Koko the Krop (German Spitz). Performing to Trouble Maker by Olly Murs. Score 14.00

This partnership is struggling to balance the needs of a quite small dog person working with a tall handler, and at present the long paces taken by the handler are making it hard for the dog to find and hold the correct position. This is making life hard for both of them. They need some advice from others working smaller dog persons and will then blossom as there is lots of potential.

Advanced Heelwork 17/9/17

Judges Jan Debnam and Gina Pink.

1st. Cathy Bates and Ruskath Lyrical Image (WSD). Performing to A Thousand Years by Christina Perry. Score 25.55.

An accurate round in forward movement, although the dog’s rear end did not reliably hold position in sideways moves. A good variety of heelwork positions with the inclusion of sideways, backwards and pivoting movements. A good use of space with the moves well orientated towards the judges. A relatively sedate round to suit the style of the dog.

2nd. Louise Ince and Decoymans Piper Edward (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) Performing to Shine by Bond. Score 24.25

A good variety of positions and directions are used to make and interesting round that is well orientated to the judges. A good use of the music’s dynamics to introduce variety of pacing. Some very impressive sideways movements in across rear heelwork positions.

3rd. Lesley Brocklehurst and Rehyrb Makhaya (Flatcoat Retriever ) Performing to Palladio by Karl Jenkins. Score 24.15

This round had the best use of variation in pace, respecting both the music and the need to show off this large handsome dog. All the space available in the ring was used and the moves were well orientated to be seen by the judges. An excellent round with good long stretches of reversing, both in a straight and in circle

4th. Alison Wilde and Shemella Badgers Moon (Border Collie). Performing to Wings by Birdy. Score 21.15

The handler is working hard to introduce a more lyrical style, recognising the needs of the music. And, like the previous 3 rounds, most moves were accomplished without large hand signals to help the dog. There was sometimes lack of clarity about the heelwork position, but a good variety of moves and an interesting round to watch.

Head judge - Jan Debnam

Paws in the Park September 2017

Advanced Heelwork class 4

1st - Place to Jill Davis and Rosmarinus Cinnabar at Glidersway, score 24.15

Great music choice for this pair who made heelwork to music look effortless and flowing, some lovely different lateral movements used and good transitions. A bit of hand targeting in some of the positions but really lovely to see this pair working so well together.

2nd - Place to Di Morgan and Hawkstor Out Of The Blue For Darkquest, score 22.35

I love the theme of this routine and Di played the character to perfection today, using her props throughout the whole routine to good effect. A bit more work needed on the backing movements but a very nice routine.

3rd - Place to Sarah Smith and Forever Just Fen, score 22.05

Some lovely musical interpretation to this routine and some very tight heelwork positions held. Now to work on your own self belief that she is an excellent heelwork dog and can do it.

4th - Place to Cathy Bates and Ruskath Lyrical Image, score 21.95

Loose heelwork positions held in this routine today but a lovely flowing routine which really suit this pair. Cathy always looks so relaxed in the ring and that really enhances the round.

In general

Some great routines on show , heelwork to music at its best and I know the Audience were very appreciative of your efforts, well done to the class.

Report by Louise Ince

Class 10, Novice Freestyle. 

16 entries, 9 completed routines, 6 training rounds and 1 DNW.

My thanks to Louise and Canine Partners for the invitation to judge 3 classes over this weekend of 2 open shows at the Paws in the Park event in Kent. As always, it was very enjoyable, friendly and relaxed, with everything running like clockwork. Louise, Gary and her helpers worked so hard to ensure this. Plenty of stalls, attractions and have a go competitions including Dash and Splash, for those wishing to spend their money !

1st. Laura Wiley scoring 20.45 with her delightful Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Pemcader Beckrow Dee Dee. A varied and balanced content including some cute moves. There were a few hesitations and the ring space could have been used more fully but very enjoyable and pretty nifty considering the dog’s short legs! She coped well with the barking dogs in the audience.

2nd. Kerry Brown, scoring 20.30 with golden retriever Oldquoins Vagabond Boy. A good balance of tricks and ground covering moves. Lovely enthusiasm but not always fully under control! Good timing and use of the nuances of the music. Moves, costume and props all appropriate for the chosen music and theme – the Good, Bad and Ugly.

3rd. Bridget Jamieson scoring 19.95, with little black crossbreed, Dancing Miss Daisy. A delightful programme, full of energy and enthusiasm and clever use of the umbrellas. The music choice, Singing in the Rain was well interpreted with the help of appropriate costume and props and moves inspired by the music. This was my winner on today’s performance.

4th. Amanda Jinks scoring 18.60, with boxer bitch Talow Country Comfort. Good content but Zoe was rather distracted and there were some slow cue responses. Her tail never stopped wagging but more drive and commitment is needed. Lovely to see this boxer improving – certainly moving in the right direction.

Some general comments –

1. The handler should never overshadow the dog by his/her over expressive movements. It is the dog which should be showcased and not the handler!

2. Choreography needs addressing more thoroughly, ie the structure and planning, use of space and positioning so judges can see clearly what the dog is doing. 

3. Handler uncertainty with unclear hand/arm signals is very confusing for your dog. 

4. There should be a story or a strong theme or style to your routine. This is not always evident and some routines could be performed to any music,

Lesley Brocklehurst.
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