Heelwork to Music in the UK

                      Westglen 21st & 22nd of March 2015

Advanced heelwork to music crufts qualifier

Thank you to Westglen for inviting me to judge, as always it was a well organised show with everything seemingly to go like clockwork. There wasn’t many of the Crufts finalists in the class this year perhaps they were giving their dogs a rest as Crufts was not long ago. This meant the standard was mixed with a lot of handlers doing training rounds. Well done to Nicci Hindson on a good quiet training round with Nala

Things I noticed were dogs not holding positions close to the handler with several wide or forward. Also if you put the dog into a position make sure you keep it there for a few paces and not just a couple of small paces which doesn’t show the position off well.

1st. Lucy Creek and Harriot Skiffle King

A clear winner of this class for me and you can see why this team have just won the HTM final at Crufts. A good theme with some well executed positions and directions, a few mistakes but so soon after Crufts with all the performances this team had to do you would expect it. A quality routine where Lucy’s character performance helped to show off her dog well.

2nd. Kath Hardman and Stillmoor Lady in Red

Amber seemed tense during the first part of the routine and not always engaged in the job. Halfway through she seemed to flick a switch and start enjoying it which did mean there was a small deduction for noise. The routine used the music well as I would expect from Kath but I sometimes would love to see this team surprise us with a routine/music that is “out the box” compared to their normal style. Saying that I know it’s easy to get into a style that suits you but we all have to try and step out our comfort zone so go on Kath and Amber surprise us ! Well done on gaining a qualifier for 2016.

3rd. Kath Hardman and Stillmoor Extra Special

Good choice of music for this young man who looked great in the matching red bow tie. Denby is a long striding collie who keeps Kath fit moving out at speed, sometimes his slower work cannot be as precise and his body is not as straight as it could be in some positions. Denby looks a bit of the jack the lad to me and certainly can have ring presence but he doesn’t always look engaged in the job.

4th. Annette Lowe and Kinaway Mystic Spires

I do like this dog but his work is a bit erratic with jumping up and excitableness. He could be a super htm dog but control in all positions needs to be examined for a higher place in the line up. Also the handler has a habit of holding her trousers whenever the dog gets on the left and right which makes it obvious the hand is needed to keep the dog in position.

5th. Joanna Mayston and  Mists of Tawny

I thought this was a very competent routine, I liked the theme although I feel the sword fighting could be done with a bit more conviction and not swatting flies! Some nice positions held and the routine did seem to have a nice flow to it, a few mistakes now and again but they were recovered well. The only thing I would like to see is the dog looking a little happier as I felt this would boost the performance as she looked a bit tense throughout

6th. Cathy Bates Ruskath Lyrical Image

It was a delight to see this little bitch work with a wagging tail and a little glint of excitement in her eye, I hope this can be developed further in the future. Not always as precise as I would like but there was a range of positions and directions held during the routine.

Head Judge - Richard Curtis


Lead Judge Kath Hardman

Thank you to the committee of Westglen HTM Club for inviting me to judge this rather special class – the first Freestyle Crufts Semi Final Qualifier of 2015. This is a super venue – lovely well laid carpet – a good sized ring and their super picket fencing. A good show to enter and to judge as it ticks most of the boxes!

Most of the routines were new to me – having not watched any at the Semis in January and then only seeing Crufts through a camera lens, I was looking forward to being entertained whilst judging. When allocated this class I did expect entries to be very high, maybe even split, however, as in the HTM Qualifier held earlier on the day there were just 21 Entries. This included 3 non runners, 5 routines were trained – some from the start with a training plan in mind and others not going quite to plan so trained in order to make the most of the time in the ring. Good decisions all round.

First Place – Lucy Creek with Dialynne Making Waves - Beagle.

Teasel – what a star you were. Lucy – fabulous costume! Lucy handles this super dog really well and today was brilliant team work. The routines flowed from one intricate move to another, capturing the Alice In Wonderland Theme throughout with props of Rabbit Hole, “Small” medicine, Toadstool, cake and also the hat which Lucy was wearing, each used at the appropriate times within the music. Great music choice where Lucy had picked out both the phrasing and lyrics – this was certainly not a background track!

Congratulations Lucy and Teasel. 25.53

Second Place – Kim Lyddon – Canen You Said What – Border Collie

Kim and Tyler are really working well together – gaining confidence in each other at each outing! Performing to Dance Of The Mirlitons/Dopuble Boogey Blues, with Kim kitted out in golfing attire and golf bag – they also provided their own miniature putting green. Kim acts her part extremely well throughout the routine with interesting interpretation and both Kim and Tyler work some very steady poses which reflects the golfing environment. This was a very entertaining and accurate routine, making good use of all the props with Kim taking the lead in the Musical Interpretation.

Congratulations Kim and Tyler. 25.33

Third Place – Christina Oxtoby – Lagacy’s Easy Ezekiel – Border Collie

Performing to “Well Did You Evah” by Robbie Williams, Christina and Eze were the first team to compete in this class. Christina dressed as a high class drinks’ waiter, with props of a small table and tray, the latter of which matched her apron, the opening pose of Eze with hind legs on the tray – captured your attention from the very first note. They included some super moves always very fitting to the theme of the music and the storyline of the lyrics – hitting the phrasing and emphasising the changes in the music throughout and with well planned full ring coverage.

Well done Christina and Eze – 24.77

Fourth Place – Anne Shuker with Splish Splash – Working Sheepdog

Anne and Splash entered the ring to perform to “Home Front In The Blitz”, after the positioning of numerous props including: a bed with book and teddy bear, a suitcase, a washing basket containing pieces of laundry, a Union Flag, Washing Line with two posts. All were used within the routine however due to their placing in the arena; I felt this restricted the actual use of the ring. Anne and Splash told a story cleverly involving both of them moving from a normal day of getting out of bed – hanging out the washing – being proud to be British flying the flag, through an air raid and finally Splash becoming one of the many evacuees from the City.

Well done on your 4 place Anne and Splash – 23.63

Judging this class was an eye opener for me seeing well accomplished routines competing against much less confident performances.

I judged three classes over the weekend and I was amazed how many routines do not have a finish pose and others which sadly finished after the music had ended. Surprisingly, in this Advanced Class, there were two very obvious overruns after the music finished – please ensure your finishes are stable showing you know your music and that the routine has been planned accordingly.

There were many routines where the music gave a theme in the background but the moves were not matched to the phrasing or punctuation in the music which is the basis of this sport – Musical Interpretation is more than moves, props, acting and a costume – they need to be related to the particular “section” of music being interpreted by the dog.

In this class there was also a couple of handlings of a dog – please take care not to move a dog into the position you want by any means other than a move done independently by the dog.
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