Taking The Lead

By Andrea Keepence-Keyte

Golden Rules

Golden Rules

Anne Defaye has asked me to remind you all that the invites to the finals will start to go out, she must receive your intention by the 8th of August 2017 please.
If you do not receive your invite before the middle of July please get in touch with her as soon as possible. fedayewhippets@gmail.com
Anne works extremely hard to get the finals organised and hosted so please make her life as easy as possible by getting your entry into her as soon as you can. Anne will also be at various champ shows with her stand “Fedaye Products” where forms can be collected direct.

One of the things I have always loved about adult handling is that there is an expectation to be able to carry out certain things without breaking the golden rules. I hear all the time about how disheartening it is when handlers are seen to be breaking the golden rules and yet being placed above others who haven’t.

The two golden rules of handling are:

1. Never drop the lead. This is because you must be in control of your dog at all times. So often I see people dropping the lead in the breed ring and this habit translates to the handling ring. Personally draping the lead around your neck is not holding the lead nor having your dog in control.
2. Never come between the dog and the judge. The whole point of handling is to show off your dog, not your legs. This rule is broken less frequently nowadays in handling competition, the one time I do see it happen is on the turns or during shadow work. This is something that does require thought and practice.

Perhaps I am being a bit of a purest about these rules but, for me, this is the whole point of handling! Both of these rules are fundamental in my opinion. They underpin everything else in handling, especially for shadowing and pattern work.

FCI rules for handling do not include these rules but British rules do. It would be a shame to lose the high standard of handling that has and is being born in the country. People who tend to take up handling as a competitive sport put loads of time and effort into practicing and the standard of handling in classes is amazingly high.
It worries me when handlers are being knocked, for whatever reason, as it is disheartening when you put in a good performance and yet others are being awarded for breaking the golden rules.

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It’s this kind of thing in competition which puts people off entering. The unique thing about handling competition is that it really is about the handler and not the dog, so those of us who may not do very well in the breed ring can excel in the handling ring as it’s your performance that is judged.

Handlers of all ages are a savvy bunch and they can spot a handling or non-handling judge a mile off. They can also spot people who make mistakes and awarded thus. I have had it happen to me where I won the class but I knew that I had made a mistake, I felt awful for the handlers who had performed better than I had on that particular day and I was genuinely surprised to win the class. I think I felt bad because I had also been in the other position where I witnessed handlers who had made truly fatal errors being awarded the class and it’s disappointing.

Please do not misunderstand me, I am all for competition and I truly love that the bar is set so high now. I do not begrudge being beaten by better and more skilled handlers and there are plenty of us who change places from show to show. It is healthy to have good competitive handlers but I fear that if this element of showing starts to become corrupt then numbers will dwindle.
I read an article published on Andrew Brace’s blog where he discusses “The root cause of exhibitors’ dissatisfaction”, he goes on to say: “Are people really so convinced that this sport has deteriorated into just judging people rather than dogs?
I have been awarding CCs for 37 years but even now I can be surprised. If this is a widespread feeling amongst exhibitors it is little wonder that entries are dropping and more and more people are becoming disillusioned. Judging purebred dogs carries a huge responsibility to judge THE DOGS without any other consideration. The best dog in the opinion of the judge should win – friend or foe, seasoned professional or rank novice – it is not rocket science PROVIDED you have the knowledge to make an informed decision.”
The closing part of this could be amended to be true of handling competition:
“The best handler in the opinion of the judge should win – friend or foe, seasoned professional or rank novice – it is not rocket science PROVIDED you have the knowledge to make an informed decision”
Handling judges have a responsibility to do just that, the BEST handler on the day should win regardless of any perceived “status”. I have said before that handlers expect judges to know about handling and judge HANDLING not the dogs. Fortunately there are now many excellent handlers becoming judges and show societies are becoming wise to what is expected of handling classes.
Like all aspects of showing dogs there are good and bad judges of handling. You have to give them ago and then perhaps if you feel that their style or their opinion is not for you just don’t enter under them again. There have been times that I have wondered what a judge was actually looking for and I have been surprised (pleasantly) when I asked what did I do wrong and how could I improve. You find that these judges are subtle in their style and requests for patterns and most of the time they are looking for straight lines and tight corners. This is the other aspect I like about handling, there is always room for improvement and judges can and will give feedback.
“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules… and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square! – Michelle Obama

If there is anything you would like me to discuss or research and write about please do email me or contact me through Facebook. Also, don’t forget to email or call me with your news, results and gossip!


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Andrea Keepence-Keyte
I have had pet dogs all of my life, it wasn't until I met my husband and we moved in together that we got our first dog together. I really wanted a Labrador but my sister in law had just bred her beagle bitch and was expecting her first litter and my husband had his heart set on a beagle. So I am afraid to say he is completely to blame for what followed!

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