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The judge will be looking for good rapport, balance and presentation from the junior handler.
Junior handling has become an important part in the world of dog shows. Classes are split usually into two age ranges: 6 11 years and 12-16 years, and are scheduled at most shows. Many experienced exhibitors would agree that it's a great way to enter the daunting world of showing. Young Border Collie owners can make friends and at the same time train their dog to a superb showing standard. I can't think how many times I've overheard spectators say 'wow how clever those youngsters are' and 'oh, don't they show that dog well'. At the end of the day that's what you are trying to do. You have to demonstrate the ability to emphasize the Border Collies' good points and minimize the faults.
There are many ways to get into junior handling but here are a few tips to help you get started.
- First and foremost don't panic if you don't have a collie yet, much of the practice can be without a dog when you start.
- Buy a book on Junior Handling which will help you get to grips with all the patterns.
- See if you can attend a ring craft class in your area or even better a dog show, to understand the basics of showing but make sure they hold a separate section for juniors.
- Make sure someone in your family takes an interest in the handling. It will really give you confidence if someone i.e. a parent or an older brother or sister, is around to see that you make progress. Or even better do you know an ex-junior handler or a junior handling judge who would be happy to coach you? Make use of these contacts because they will have invaluable experience and they would be pleased to pass on their knowledge.
- And finally, look at your garden is it big enough to run round in a large circle, if not, go to your local park when practising ring patterns.
One of the things that should be at the forefront of your mind junior handling is when the judge assesses the skill of the handler and NOT the dog. The judge will be looking for good presentation (for both dog and handler), adequate rapport with their charge, nice technique (eg. straight lines in a pattern), pleasant and friendly manner from the handler and excellent balance. If you can master these points well youre bound to be successful.
Finally it is very important to enjoy your training with your collie and be patient. You won't see results overnight; it takes practice.
Marina Scott (nee White).
The MBCC thanks Marina for writing this article specially for us. Marina has had an extremely successful career in Junior Handling & has written a book on the subject. For further details & more general JH information, please visit her website.
Footnote: At our AGM on 21st February 2009, MBCC were delighted to support a JH Training Day, run by Marina and Helena Hutchings. It was fun, informative and thoroughly enjoyable and a report can be found on Marina's website.