Heelwork to Music in the UK

Paws n Music 23 -24 Aug 2014

Intermediate HTM

Firstly, thank you to Paws and Music for inviting me to judge at their summer show. This class attracted a large number of entries with some strong contenders for the places. Some general comments – There are still too many obvious hands being used as targets, patting hips or clenched pretending to carry food. This is the time to start turning them into ‘performance’ hands. Many handlers are adopting bizarre twisted body positions so that they can look at their dogs – this is a performance sport and you need to think about looking up, smiling and performing with your dog – it makes all the difference!

1st. Joanna Mayston with Mists of Tawny. A well deserved win, which I believe takes her into advanced – congratulations. Lovely attention throughout, with good changes of pace and position without the need for hand cues. Good and varied content.

2nd. Ann DeRizzio with Stillmoor Red Sky at Night. Ann is a great example of a handler that moves freely and performs to the music. A very watchable partnership as her dog adopts his heelwork positions without obvious cuing. Mostly forward working led to a reduced content mark.

3rd.Di Morgan with Hawkstar Out of the Blue for Darkquest. A well choreographed and accurate routine with a good variety of positions and directions. Her dog held lovely attention throughout.

4th. Maggie Jarman with Broad Beach Maisie. Some nice sequences of forwards and sideways. Maggie’s dog worked happily throughout which made this routine a pleasure to watch.

Vee Richardson - Head Judge

Novice Musical Dressage

1st. Pamela Ruscoe with Cheeky Keeva of Kilkenny. Pamela’s dog maintained a fluid pace throughout with a lot a free circles and figures of eight, and used the ring well. It would be good to include some other patterns and positions.

2nd. Jill Davis with Rosmarinus Cinnabar at Glidersway. This dog has a stunning trot, which suited the music perfectly. His sideways movements were also on the beat. Just need to include some patterns and this will be one to watch in the future.

3rd. Kay Lawrence with Genacab Light Merlot. Kay included a lot of unusual directional content in this routine. It would be nice to see some longer passages of trotting from this big handsome collie.

4th. Val Kelsey with Rooquis Typoni Maiden. Another young collie with a stylish trotting action. Mostly working on the left hand side Val demonstrated some good patterns, but broke the flow on the corners, but this is another dog to watch in the future.

Vee Richardson - Head Judge


The following 2 reports are from both Judges – Lesley Brocklehurst and Jan Debnam.

1st. Jeanette Fyfe and Golden Retr. Enlivya Angel Nathaniel, 25.30. Superb flow, timing and choreography, showcasing this stylish dog to his best. Excellent range of movement, directions and paces with effective and innovative patterns around the ring.

2nd. Val Kelsey and WSD Janjoy Misko Maiden, 23.40. Very good range of movement in both heelwork and free positions. The trotting out and ahead was stunning. A relaxed fluid style of working – very restful!

3rd. Helen Taylor and Papillon Bankshill Lord of the Rings, 21.25. Wide range of positions with all forward movement showing great energy –Frodo’s little legs going ten to the dozen in time with the music! “Perpetual Motion” was a most appropriate choice.

4th. Margaret Booth and WSD Ceri Cariad, 18.55. Good range of movements, directions, patterns and paces – best slow pace in the class. Dressage suits Ceri, now an older dog, with Margaret choosing what she is most comfortable with.

Although only 4 completed the round, it was a high standard meeting the criteria admirably and a pleasure to watch and judge. Well done to you all.


1st. Ann DeRizzio and BC Stillmore Rhythm and Blues, 20.75.Boogy style with very good arm and body movements showing clear awareness of rhythm and style. Good range of dog moves, mainly heelwork, and good spacial awareness.

2nd. Val Perkins and X breed Leonardo Da Capriole, 19.60, Expressive handler and imaginative routine with dramatic use of the music. Some missed cues marred the dog’s performance causing loss of phrasing. Impressive appropriate costume – we miss you Val!

3rd. Joanna Mayston and WSD Mists of Tawny, 18.25. Disco type dance with good variety of footstep patterns if a little stompy in places. Good range of dog moves too and also some synchronisation – loved the foot taps!

4th. Julia Moss and Alaskan Malamut Icetrekker Cassiopeia. Excellent effort as always from Julia, sometimes in the face of indifference, but she did come alive and perform moves and howls appropriate for the spooky theme! This team is always appreciated by the audience – please do not give up!

Paws n Music 23rd-24th Aug 2014

Starters HTM  Head Judge Alison Sinclair (My co-judge was Ann DeRizzio)

Firstly, thank you to Paws and Music for inviting me to judge at their summer show. This class attracted a large number of entries which was lovely to see and can only be positive for our sport. However, the standard within this class did vary greatly. Many of the handlers attempted to incorporate too many positions, if not all eight, heelwork positions. This made it difficult for the dogs to get into an accurate position before being asked to move onto the next position. I would much prefer to see fewer positions but well executed, allowing dogs to settle into position and allowing partnerships to be shown to their best. Most importantly, please remember to have fun with your dogs.

1st.Tierney Hill and Dexy's Cadbreigh Star (Labrador Retriever) (22.9) performing to Bogey March.

What a lovely, happy partnership this was, which stepped out from the moment they entered the ring. Demonstrated long periods of flowing, accurate heelwork. The partnership interpreted the music well and fully utilised the ring. Lovely focus and attention from the dog from the moment the routine began. Well done both!

2nd. Lisa Mappin and Boardermens Legs Eleven (German Shorthaired Pointer) (22.35) performing to That Man by Caro Emerald.

Another lovely partnership, again the music suited the partnership. Nice long periods of flowing heelwork which allowed Otto to get into to his stride. Occasionally, Otto became distracted but Lisa handled it well and got him back on track quickly. Would have liked to have seen a few more shapes, choreography and more utilisation of the ring but well done!

3rd. Tori Brand and Midwinter Sharwa (Border Collie) (21.9) performing to You’re the one that I want.

Another happy dog and partnership that moved well, demonstrating different paces and utilised the ring well. On the whole, lovely interpretation of the music however occasionally, there were times where the heelwork was broken up by large sections of freestyle and with such a nice moving dog, that covers the ground so well, I would have preferred to have seen more heelwork.

4th. Susan Wolf and Nakuru Mayfly (Golden Retriever) (20.8) performing to Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head by B J Thomas

Occasionally this dog could look a little serious and sensitive which can be typical of the breed but the routine had a clear, nice start and finish to the routine. Nice musical interpretation, use of props and use of the ring. Long periods of heelwork although there were a couple of times where it was unclear which position was being asked for which made the dog look uncertain.

Comments from Co Judge for the above class - Ann DeRizzio

These are general comments - please, please, handlers do NOT try to incorporate every HW position when your dogs quite obviously cannot cope with them.
They will NOT earn you extra marks for content when I am judging, and will affect your accuracy and musical interpretation marks too.  As the time taken to try and get the dog into a position detracts from the routine as a whole.
 I was saddened by what I saw today ; - dogs who were confused,  did not know where they were meant to be, and when, or if, they actually got into an asked for position the handler then quickly changed to another one. Giving the dog no time to demonstrate that they actually understood the concept of heelwork at all.
Asking too much too soon was the order of the day and this affected the partnership, flow and quality of the work.The top 4 were the exceptions to this. 
The one other thing I have to comment on and all who were at the show know I did so on the day too. - This is 1) -  a spectator sport and 2) - meant to be enjoyable - Please try and make it so. Your dogs need to be happy and confident and willing to work. If you are constantly nagging them, handling them, making them do what they can't (yet). Then they will most certainly  not be working in a happy and natural manner. I would strongly suggest you remember  the K.I.S.S method of putting together a starter routine - that is KEEP IT SWEET AND SIMPLE.

PnM show 24 August, NOVICE FREESTYLE Part 1.

Judges – Lesley Brocklehurst and Alison Sinclair.

1st. Karen Braden and WSD Maisie Mae Blue Moon Dancer, 23.00. No argument here – this was the best Nov. FS in this class! Great interpretation of “Car Wash” with appropriate props and costume. Full of interest, tricks and movement and excellent interaction with the ‘car’. Karen just managed to keep the lid on Maisie’s exuberance. They both had such fun and so did the audience.

2nd. Jan Debnam and C.B.Ret. Calandrella Algoma, 21.00. Another routine packed with interest and good range of moves. Clever use of the hoop, though a little more practice in ‘hoop management’ for the dog might be beneficial?! The music, “Windmills of your Mind” was used in a dramatic way. Structure and spacial awareness was skilled.

3rd. Di Morgan and BC Darkquest Fancy That , 19.85. Excellent balance of tricks and movement in this well planned routine to “Putting on the Ritz”. A good level of accuracy and use of space, timing and phrasing.

4th. Penny Draper with BC Miss Congeniality, 16.9. Good range of moves and movement around the ring to “Meet Me On The Corner”. Penny, exhausted after such a busy week was not performing at her best and Connie picked up on this. Still recovering from puppies too, I think.


1st. Jan Debnam with C.B.Ret. Chesepi Indian Valley, 20.75. Superb interpretation and acting to “Me and My Teddy Bear”. Some very innovative ideas and good use of props. A little over keenness, or possibly impatience, on the part of the dog, meant Jan had to surreptitiously push her away, but Hey Ho far better than lethargy !! Amusing and enjoyable to watch and costume delightful!

2nd. Debbie Moore with Welsh BC Mika Mariska, 18.9. Good range of moves well planned around the ring. I did feel there were lost opportunities to interpret the music, “Matchstick Man and Matchstick Cats and Dogs”, until nearer the end of the performance.

3rd. Jill Davis and BC Rosmarinus Cinnabar at Glidersway, 18.15. My highest mark in this class for content – good variety and balance of moves - cute tricks and FS movement, in different positions and directions. Also good use of space and positioning of dog. Interpretation of “Don’t Stop Moving” was good, though no strong theme or story.

4th. Louise Leverton and BC Stillmoor Dancing Rosey, 17.80. An interesting and lively performance to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, showing a wide range of moves. A little more control of this willing but excitable dog is needed eg take out the rollovers until she can do them safely and calmly. Loved the dramatic start and finish – hope people were watching as so many routines lack these. Great potential.

Some general comments about the 2 parts of Nov. FS.

Some excellent costumes and appropriately used props, helping to interpret performances. Beware of unnecessary handling [eg pushing, pulling, kneeing] of which competitors are often unaware, probably nerves! Some dogs were over hyped and made mistakes, moving erratically, anticipating or unable to think and respond correctly to cues. Get the control now or it will get worse! Some routines were little more than irrelevant tricks to music, where any music would do. Freestyle should have a strong theme, style or story line, with moves chosen to complement the chosen genre and music. If including a retrieve, do please teach your dog to hold the article properly without mouthing or shaking – this looks bad and can be construed as using the article as a toy.

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