Judged and Analysed by Natalie Webb
This was my third consecutive year judging at Thames. I love this show (and no, not just because of the party) so always happy to give up a day to help out Andrew and his team. I had so many lovely compliments about my 2017 course which meant I put the pressure on myself to try and deliver something equally as good for 2018. I’m not sure whether I quite managed that, but I do know that I personally really enjoyed this one – handlers had to attack the whole way round the course which made for an exciting watch!
1-5. This has to be one of my favourite start lines. No hanging around whilst handlers battle with their dog to stay on the start line- you could literally scruff and go! A fairly simple opening which most managed well. Wide turns at number two wasted a bit of time however.
6-8. I called a lot of refusals at #7. This was mainly caused by handlers not trusting their dog out of the tunnel to the back of #6 which then left them on the back foot. The spread at #8 came down a lot. Mostly I think this probably comes down to handlers not drilling them enough in training. However, if the dogs were unbalanced after #7 it was a tall order for them to get over cleanly.
9-11. The wall was a big draw here. Dogs were in extension after the tunnel and if the handler didn’t cue deceleration clearly enough the dogs weren’t even seeing the tunnel entrance after #10.
12-13. This section caused a few people to panic and over handle their dogs. The majority wing wrapped at #12 but a few sliced the pole and went top wing instead, enabling them to block the tunnel entrance and rear cross the weaves. The wing wrap worked nicely but if the dog turned wide then the tunnel became more of a trap as handlers had to try and step in to show the weaves.
14-19. The finish jump was just too tempting for some dogs after #14. Handlers were conscious of getting off to make the push round at #17 which meant they were just trusting their dog to come with them. Surprisingly, not many dogs took #17 the wrong way although I did have to mark a lot of refusals. Again I think this was mainly due to handlers rushing off to beat their dog to the end.