Posts tagged ‘Gaiting’

In Motion.

Today was Phoenix’ 20th show…amazing to think how far we’ve all come since our debut back in Taunton on May 29th!

But much more importantly, today was also the day when everything came together perfectly, and for the first time in any show, anywhere, Phoenix really showed what she was capable of in the ring.

The scene of this happy occasion was a biggie, The South Wales Kennel Association Championship Show at the Royal Wales showground in Builth Wells. This was also the location of our first Champ Show Best Puppy award at the end of August, and today it certainly proved to be a lucky venue for us once again.

We arrived with about an hour to spare, and, both in practice and around the showground it was apparent that Phoenix was very excited and also very fluid in her movement, definitely “up for it”.

This was carried through into the ring in spades and she didn’t put a foot wrong at any stage, first becoming best puppy bitch and then, after going head to head with the winning puppy dog, Phoenix was named Best Puppy in Breed, her 3rd Champ Show Best Puppy award.

We had recently been given some detailed handling tips by a professional handler (thanks Emma!) who observed what Tim & Phoenix were doing together and made a few suggestions. The changes were seemingly small, but seem to have made a huge difference and Phoenix is finally demonstrating in the ring what we’ve been seeing in practice and at ringcraft, that she really can move very well!

After she emerged from the ring one seasoned HWV observer/exhibitor was heard to comment of Phoenix that she had “totally outmoved the rest of the class” – particularly pleasing after a number of shows where it was purely her movement that had held her back. Also, she’s always been a major attention seeker, but it was abundantly clear that she was really enjoying herself in the ring today – as was Eileen Hughes, the judge!

The judges critique read:

A well made puppy bitch, well up for size, although balanced, and with the correct length in body. Matching angles front and rear, moved truly. Best Puppy.

Just a few days before turning 11 months it feels like our gal has finally grown into her body and has, at the same time, figured out exactly what is required of her in the ring. Exciting times lie ahead!

08/10/2009 at 22:20 Leave a comment

The Shows Must Go On.

Over the past 13 days we’ve been to 5 separate, and extremely differing shows with Phoenix. We’ve had some disappointments, some extraordinary success and have learned a huge amount about how best to show and make the most of our time in the ring.

What follows in this megapost are some impressions of each show in ascending order of how-well-we-showed, peppered with photos of differing quality:

Minehead Open Show

Way back on July 29th we all woke to torrential rain plus the news that all the local rivers were set to break their banks in general end-of-the-world-is-nigh type conditions. What better day, then, to head out to the Dunster Country Fair and associated Minehead Canine Society Show?

Upon arrival we found foot deep mud, a team of tractors towing vehicles into and out of the showground and wet-weather show tents that were flooded, hugely overcrowded and rapidly turning into quagmires of mud. Tim and Phoenix gamely trudged through said mud to do some practicing, but as time wore on Phoenix became increasingly frustrated and bored by the conditions and the lack of space.

When we finally hit the ring – virtually at the very end of the show – we gave a rather lacklustre performance and Phoenix made it clear that she’d really rather be somewhere else right about now.  We managed to get a best Puppy Not Seperately Classified and then went on to get 4th best Gundog Puppy. The judge told us later that Phoenix had “rather thrown it away” in that Gundog Puppy Group, but under those conditions  we were just happy when the whole thing was over and we could slide-and-spin back out of the mud and off into the still-torrential rain.

Bournemouth Champ Show

Bournemouth - first stack.

Bournemouth - first stack.

In total contrast Aug 8th was one of the few hot sunny days of the summer. Remembering back to her very first show back in the baking heat of May we realised that Phoenix would not show well if she was hot, so we kept her in the cool shade of an unused marquee and also kept damping her down with cold water. The previous breed over-ran by several hours and by the time we did get to the ring, despite our efforts at cooling, Phoenix was very sleepy and floppy. She stood nicely, but her gaiting was perfunctory and pretty unenthusiastic…not much Phoenix *sparkle* on view in the ring today and we were awarded 3rd Best Junior Bitch.

Bournemouth - the examination.

Bournemouth - the examination.

We’ve spent lots of time trying to calm Phoenix down at shows so that she can focus once in the ring, but it’s clear that she now “gets” the whole show hullabaloo and the future priority instead must be on allowing her to show off, rather than rein in, her personality.

Bournemouth - final stack.

Bournemouth - final stack.

National Gundog Championship
August 1st saw us head off to a drizzly Three Counties Showground, and an impeccably organised show. Sadly the superb outdoor rings were rendered out of bounds by the weather, and the dogs were instead judged in the giant hanger-cum-warehouses at the venue.

Puppy Bitch Class at Nat Gundog.

Puppy Bitch Class at Nat Gundog...we're in the middle!

Conditions for humans were hot and noisy, but Phoenix seemed very chipper, and, since everything ran to time, there was minimal waiting time and we hit the ring with Phoenix pretty fresh. She stood as asked and gaited OK, though dertainly not at her optimum full pace. We were in HWV Puppy Bitch class and managed to score a 2nd place, beaten only by an older and more mature dog on her final outing as a puppy.

The judges critique read:

“substantial puppy, yet to grow into herself. Good coat developing, balanced head, correct eye shape, very nice neck, strong boned forelegs, strong pasterns, good length & shape of ribs, correct loin, well muscled croup & 1 thigh, she will be able to hold herself together on the move when she matures.”

This was an extremely enjoyable and sociable show where we met many HWV friends, old and new. Much fun was had!

North Devon Open Show
The closest showground venue to our home also turned out to be the undoubted highlight of our short show career so far! In ideal, bright, breezy and fairly cool conditions we were awarded 1st Junior AVNSC Gundog – an achievement since Phoenix is only 8 months old and the class was for dogs up to 18 months – as well as best AVSNC Gundog Puppy.

Being Awarded 1st in Junior Class at North Devon Show.

Being Awarded 1st Junior at North Devon Show.

Then, almost immediately, we were up against all the other Gundog best-of-breed puppies and, to our complete delight, managed to win 1st Gundog puppy as well – our first 1st, following the two Gundog Puppy Group 2’s at Liskeard & Dorset.  The judge was Dr. Monica Boggia-Black – one of the most senior dog judges in the country, and a multiple Crufts judge. She came up to Tim and said of Phoenix: “you’ve got a real star there!” – cue big smiles!

Being Awarded 1st in Junior Class at North Devon Show.

Being Awarded 1st Gundog Puppy at North Devon Show.

We didn’t have time to catch our breath though, and were immediately whisked off to the Best Puppy In Show ring where Tim & Phoenix, representing the Gundog Group, were up against the top puppy from each of the Terrier, Hound, Pastoral, Working, Utility & Toy groups.

Gundog Puppy Group 1, 2 & 3 at North Devon Show

Gundog Puppy Group 1, 2 & 3 at North Devon Show

Lined up for Best Puppy in Show at North Devon Show.

Lined up for Best Puppy in Show.

The ring was hugely expanded and, for the first time since Liskeard, Phoenix  gaited really beautifully, at full fast pace with her huge stride in full evidence. Judging was very quick and decisive and we were utterly thrilled to be awarded 2nd Best Puppy in Show, an incredible achievement at only the 7th ever show for either Tim or Phoenix. We also believe that, at just 8 months, Phoenix may well be the youngest HWV ever to have been awarded such a high placing at an all-group Open show in the UK.

The judges critique read:

Very pleasing head and eye, good shoulder placement and nice front and feet. Excellent mover. Best Gundog Puppy. Res BIS Puppy.

We’re so immensely proud of our little gal and all she’s managed to achieve in just 6 1/2 months since she came to live with us in Devon … and it’s now official – she truly is a real star!!

08/08/2009 at 23:29 4 comments

Show number 4…

So, out we all ventured once more, this time to the Dorset County Canine Society Open Show set in the sweeping parkland grounds of the Kingston Maurward College. Unlike virtually all other shows our class was right at the start of the day so we arrived bright and early to set up our virtual stall and settle Phoenix into the show surroundings.

Our class today was Any Variety Not Separately Classified Gundog Puppy. There were six of us in the class: A Curly-Coated Retriever, plus American Cocker, Clumber, Sussex & Irish Water Spaniels. Phoenix stood absolutely beautifully and moved as well as could be expected in the rather undersized ring….we were really pleased with how she showed today – definitely the best so far, very focused and controlled but with all the spirit and life that makes her movement so strong – hopefully indicative that she’s well and truly into her show groove.

Stacked at Dorset County show.

Stacked at Dorset County show.

Judge Jill Holgate awarded us 1st Place in the class, and then, after the other classes had been judged, we came back into the ring and were awarded Best AVNSC Gundog Puppy.

Teeth exam.

Teeth exam.

The Examination.

Standing beautifully for The Examination.

At this point we had planned to head off to check out the Jurassic Coast beaches of Dorset, but now instead began the wait for all the other  breed classes to be judged, a process that eventually took nearly 7 more hours…. at which point it started to pour with rain, so we all decamped into the wet-weather marquee where we lined up alongside all the other Best Puppies in Breed to compete for Best Gundog Puppy in Show.

This time we had a much larger area in which to move and do our stuff, and this allowed Phoenix to really stretch out properly and go at full pace – which, with her & Tim’s equally big strides is best described as fast.

A really spectacular and beautifully handled Pointer bitch won 1st place (and subsequently went on to win Best Puppy in Show) and then, after a hushed pause, Phoenix was awarded second (Gundog Puppy Group 2) which was another fantastic result against some really top dogs!

Phoenix & the Pointer stood perfectly, poised and symmetrical nose to nose whilst the judge wrote her critiques. The excitement then got a little too much for all concerned and the subsequent lap of honour is best described as “ragged”!  but a great day was had, some new friends made and as a practice run for the upcoming Championship shows it could hardly have gone better.

The Judge’s critique report on Phoenix said:

Good wire coat, deep rich colour. Lean head with a noble expression. Straight in front and good quarters for her age. Hocks well let down. Tight Feet. Was pleased to  give her Puppy Group 2 where she settled better on the move.

26/07/2009 at 22:01 2 comments

Show number 3….

An amazing day was had today as we all headed off to the Liskeard & District Premier Open Show in deepest Cornwall. Thinking that we’d be on late in the show, and certainly after lunch, we arrived at 12:00 noon, only to find that our class was up in about 20 mins., which didn’t give too much time for “settling in”.

The show was held in an aircraft-hanger-like giant agricultural building, and the atmosphere (and volume level) was best described as cacophonous and claustrophobic, somewhat resembling a Moroccan bazaar minus the carpet-sellers (although they may have been tucked away in a corner for all we knew) with absolutely no space to move around. Despite this Phoenix was completely unphased and instead displayed her usual mixture of excitement and curiosity at all the sights, sounds and smells.

There were no classes for HWV’s at the show so we were up in AVNSC (Any Variety Not Seperately Classified:  Gundog).  When our class came she trotted beautifully into the ring and stood like a dream….which turned out to be the first and last time she would be performing this feat as trained…each subsequent “stand” was accompanied by a variety of dancing, backing-up and lurching sideways, leading the judge to ask her: “are you going to make life difficult for your Daddy today?” (the answer to which was a big fat yes!)

Despite this we managed to win Best AVNSC Puppy and received a fine rosette and a photo session with the marvellous Sam from Farlap Canine Photography.

Standing for Best AVNSC Puppy.

Standing for Best AVNSC Puppy.

Then came a 3 hour-or-so wait for all the other Gundog breeds to finish judging, by which point the building was almost empty of people, dogs and hubbub, with only the best of breed winners remaining. Eventually all the winning gundog puppies were called back for the judging of the Gundog Puppy Group, and Phoenix (who was almost asleep by this time)  & Tim entered the now much enlarged arena to line up amongst the Spaniels, Retrievers, Pointers, Setters etc.

Being judged for Best Gundog Puppy.

Being judged for Best Gundog Puppy - that's Phoenix in the centre with the judge examining her.

We had thought that being roused from a state of unconsciousness might take the edge of excitability off our l’il gal, but instead she performed just as she had in the previous round, moving with huge enthusiasm and drive, head up and tail up with a big grin on her face – which was great – but then trying to buck and twist out of her stands – which was less than great…

The best Gundog Puppy in show was awarded to the Golden Retriever, but then, and to our complete delight and some astonishment, we were awarded second place (AKA: Gundog Puppy Group 2) accompanied by an even bigger rosette, at which point Phoenix’ and Tim’s excitement levels must have gone into overdrive since she (and probably he too) started bouncing about 4 feet in the air!!!

A lap of honour of the ring for the top 4 puppies followed, and then we were out to absorb what had just occurred. Several other exhibitors came up to congratulate us and say was a lovely dog they thought she was. One Irish Setter exhibitor said that she thought Phoenix was the best dog in the whole show…which was very nice.

So, a fantastic result, and the gaiting problems of the last show now seem to be a thing of the past, but  instead we have her new unwillingness to stand to work on. The next “warm-up” show in is two weeks, and then, come August, we’re into her proper show campaign, so we’ve got a few more weeks to strike a balance between Phoenix’ joyous spirit (that judges happily seem to like!) and the element of control that we need….

First thing tomorrow morning it’s back to pup boot camp!

12/07/2009 at 22:20 7 comments

Crufts Qualified!!

A big, big day today… it was Phoenix’ first Championship show, the Three Counties, and we were really expecting it to be no more than a practise/dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Champ shows in Aug, Sept & Oct. We also knew that we were up against some older, more mature and much more experienced dogs and handlers in our class but, despite this, we managed to be placed third by senior judge Zena Thorn-Andrews, which in turn means that Phoenix has Qualified for entry to Crufts 2010 at her and our very first attempt!! (Also, one of the dogs that we beat then went on to take Best Junior Bitch, which we would have won had we entered that class…doh!)

Phoenix stood beautifully for the judge, and in the line-up, but when it came to gaiting she was like a coiled spring and was literally bouncing around the ring, so we really thought we’d have no chance of success, making the result both exciting and altogether unexpected.

We’re showing at another 6 or 7 Champ shows and about a dozen Open Shows this year, whilst Phoenix is still classified as a puppy (under 12 months old) so hopefully we can build on that success as she matures…. and also figure out how best to get her “sparkly” but not “manic” in the showring.

Sadly once again no photographs were taken of this momentous occasion due to ….erm….operator malfunction…next time though!

18/06/2009 at 22:24 3 comments

Mid-Western Gundog Society Show.

02nd-may-at-mid-western-gundog

Watching the Action at Mid-Western Gundog Show.

Yesterday was our last opportunity to take Phoenix to attend a show before her own debut at the end of May. The Mid-Western Gundog Society Show near Worcester was a relaxed and relatively lowkey “do” which gave us another chance to get Phoenix fit for purpose and concentrating with dogs and people all around. She was extremely bouncy ‘n’ boingy and frustrated at not being able to join in with the other dogs but as soon as we got her working on gaiting and stacking, then she tuned in remarkably well. Which hopefully bodes well for when she has to do the real thing in about four weeks time. Until then, it’s practice, practice, practice.

03/05/2009 at 13:15 Leave a comment


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