Give A Little Bit Back And Learn Along The Way
Learning about other breeds is quite important if you want to judge handling. The reason for this being that people will show their dogs as they are meant to be shown in the breed ring and rightly so. The whole point of handling is to get the best from your dog and that includes showing them as you would if you were being judged in the breed ring. For example, some breeds are stacked front on – this is true for Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Dogue de Bordeaux. Some dogs are free stood in the ring such as Dalmatians, Labradors and Brittany’s. It is wrong to penalise a handler for showing their dog like they would in the breed ring and I am always shocked when people have told me that the feedback they received was along the lines of “you free stood your dog instead of stacking” or “you stood your dog front on as opposed to side on”. I have experienced a handler showing a front stacking dog side on in a handling class, I had to reassure them that I was not going to hold it against them for showing how they would in the breed ring. I was in fact told by a judge that they penalised me for holding my beagles tail up – I was shocked and very saddened as this is very normal in the beagle breed ring. The judge even proceeded to give me some “tips” on how I can get my hound to hold her tail up; needless to say I did not take any of it on board.
I also don’t penalise for showing a dog the “wrong way around” as I understand that you can have mismarked dogs that can give an optical illusion so sometimes handlers do this. I have also, sadly had to use this technique when I have had handlers in the past try and front my dog out. Fortunately the hounds I have had the pleasure of showing have never shown tendency towards aggression so this has never gone in favour of the person trying it on.
If you are going to go over a dog in handling classes then it is also important to know how to go over that breed. Again, for example sight hounds will not like being approached from the front where most scent hounds do prefer to be approached from the front. Chows have not only teeth looked at but also the pigmentation of the mouth, which should be a blue/black colour. When I have had people handling chows in handling competition I ask them to show teeth and mouth as this is what would be expected in the breed ring.
For me the best way to learn about different breeds – both how they are handled and how they are shown, the best way is to steward. When I steward I tend to ask for breeds that are not my own, I find when I steward for my own breed I get distracted by the judging of the dogs rather than paying attention to how they are judged and how they are handled. This, I suppose is only natural but I do find that stewarding for a breed that you don’t know you will learn so much more.
Breed societies and show societies are crying out for stewards – it is a good way to give something back to the show community and by stewarding for breeds that are not your own, it means that you are less likely to miss the day of showing your own dog. Also, now that the requirement to only have to complete 4 stewarding appointments to progress in judging I fear that finding willing stewards is going to become more and more difficult. I hope that you find that once you start stewarding for a society that they will invite you again and again so it can become as regular as you would like it to be.
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Make sure that, if you are going to give feedback at the end of judging handling, you give correct advice and that you are not going to knock someone’s confidence by giving incorrect feedback. I tend to restrict my feedback to handling only and never about breed handling unless I am experienced in handling that particular breed. I think it is useful to give constructive criticism but it must be given with consideration for the handler, sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all.
“Its enough to indulge and to be selfish but true happiness is really when you start giving back” – Adrian Grenier
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Andrea Keepence-Keyte, email@example.com 07960086093
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