Every single time I have the chance to actually sit down and watch Junior Showmanship judging, I learn something. I might be introduced to something new or reminded of something old, or maybe I’ll see a judging style that I think should really be talked about.
So today I bring you something that I think juniors should keep in mind while in the ring.
Who better to judge a group of junior handlers than a former professional handler? Mr. Houston Clark judged all the junior classes at a show I attended recently. He not only inspired and treated each and every handler in his junior ring with a gentle manner, but he made sure that he really problem-solved an issue that kept occurring in his ring.
Mr. Clark made it very clear on multiple occasions that the juniors were not to over-handle their dogs. I find that over-handling is something that comes along with nerves, but I also think it’s something that isn’t necessarily apparent until it’s brought directly to a handler’s attention. It’s as if it’s something you can’t really feel, so in order to know you’re doing it, you have to be told by someone else that you are, in fact, doing it!
But who am I to talk about over-handling? I thought I would take it directly to the experts to see what they have to say on the subject.
Here are few words from the professionals:
Amy Rutherford: “Keep in mind a great handler is someone who fades into the background so you really see the dog putting on a performance.”
Jenny Rangel: “These are dogs. Their ‘jobs’ are not to be show dogs. In order for them to keep moving forward, it needs to be fun! Remember, don’t over-drill or force your dog to be perfect.”
Bill McFadden: “It’s all about finding a fine line of how much you can do with your dog without them giving up on you. My advice is to watch other handlers in the ring and pick out what annoys you. Whatever that is, don’t do it.”
See, I told you, Dogs Freakin’ Rule!