Crufts Obedience ~ THE Judging Experience
A Judge's Eye View
I have been privileged to judge at Crufts on three occasions. Firstly the Obedience Championships in 1998 followed by the old KCJO Obedience in 1999. In 2004 a new competition was launched (the Obedience World Cup) and I felt extremely honoured to judge the very first event.
Back to the 1998 Obedience Championships. There is a lot of planning involved to get everything right for the two days especially from the judge and team of stewards. Firstly the heelwork pattern has to be drawn up and altered to suit for timing. It has to include the Stand, Sit and Down positions and be interesting and testing for handlers as well as spectators (if possible). The test canít be too hard or too many points could be lost and then horror of horrors the Championship couldnít be awarded. To win, less than fifteen points out of a total of three hundred must be lost. Thatís pressure on everyone concerned which from a handlerís point of view usually means a lot of trips to the loo!
There is nowhere like Crufts in the Obedience calendar and you cannot train under the same conditions anywhere. You just hope you will get around without too much embarrassment.
My own Border Collie bitch Ob Ch Darlodge Fen won the Championships in 1989 at Earls Court. In 1985 another of my dogs Rockin Robin had to do the whole round again to run off for first place - itís bad enough doing the round once but twice!!
The Kennel Club Juniors have changed a lot since 1999, not only the class but the age limit. When I judged there was a winning individual and also an area/regional team award. The Midlands won the team event and it wasnít a fix! The juniors from the Midlands have a good record in this event at Crufts.
The Obedience World Cup was exciting to judge as it was new to everyone and with no qualifying mark needed everything was marked without worry. England had a runaway victory with a team of top handlers and Border Collie/Working Sheepdogs. It just so happened that Herbie Watson and Ob Ch Whatknow Razzamatazz and Kim Innes' Border Collie Ob Ch Barlingo Go Ballistic (2 of the 3 members of the team) had also won the dog and bitch Obedience Championships 2 days earlier. So what a fantastic Crufts for them with Kim also winning the World Champion title overall. The exercises are very different and the dogs have to be taught new tests to compete in the team.
My husband Jim has been invited to judge the Inter-regional team competition in 2007 so that will mean we have judged all of the Obedience competitions held at Crufts between us.
Only two Collies or collie type are allowed per team to give other breeds a chance to strut their stuff. The team comprises of 2 novice, 1 class A, 1 class b and 2 class C dogs. Many people feel that the best team is not selected overall because of the restriction on breeds especially the Collies.
The Midlands won the very first Inter-regional some 20 odd years ago when Crufts was held in London. I was part of that team with my Sheltie. I have since been part of another winning team with one of my Border Collies. The Midlands have had a good record over the years at Crufts and it has been an honour to be a part of it.
Linda and Jim White.
The MBCC thanks Linda & Jim for writing this article specially for us.