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 Trial– Monkchester Community Centre, Newcastle Upon Tyne-blog by Judge Jayne

It was a chilly but sunny day on Sunday 4th Feb for the first Northern trial of 2024, hosted by Judge Cristen and Ruff Diamond Dog Training in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  We were pleased to be inside in the warmth of the fabulous Monkchester Community Centre.

This mini-trial covered all current levels and gave everyone a chance to show off their rally skills, taking on the challenge of creative course design from Judges Cristen and Jayne.

The consistency of training was evident in all of the teams and everyone confidently tackled courses containing exercises they may not have previously encountered in addition to demonstrating solid skills with level 1 foundation exercises.  In particular, the Call Front exercises were executed with superb precision, with dogs coming cleanly to the front position into a solid and straight stand, pausing and waiting for the handler to cue them to the appropriate finish or forward position.  Well done to everyone for showing these exercises accurately and with great style.

In the higher levels the distance control exercises were also performed with confidence, and the majority of teams demonstrated solid training skills for recall exercises with marks lost for anticipation, extra positions and handlers not adopting the correct position for angled recalls.  Everyone took on board feedback for future-proofing these exercises to enable their dogs to remain in position until the handler cues the next element of the exercise.

The distraction exercises proved to be a challenge for one or two teams, and again feedback was given for setting the dog up to succeed with these exercises in future trials.

It was delightful to see Harry the Scottish Terrier invent his own variation of a pivot exercise which incorporated a perfect spin and really should be a Level 4 exercise for the future!

Puppy Level David and wee Hamish (West Highland Terrier) gained two ACE scores in their first ever trial, and it will be wonderful to see this amazing team progress through the levels.  No pressure David, but there is the potential for an Award of Excellence if you gain another ACE score at your next trial.

Level 1/Veteran L1 Judge Cristen and pocket rocket Border Terrier Dreya gained two ACE scores in their first level 1 rounds. Vicky and her gorgeous Australian Doodles Rouggie and Mella achieved ACE scores in their rounds with Mella gaining her Level 1 Championship and Rouggie her Level 1 title and AOE. Sarah and her super speedy terrier Reo achieved two ACE scores and achieved their Level 1 Championship. Jude and Scottish Terrier Harry gained an OUTSTANDING and an ACE score.   Sirja and Daisy, a German Shepherd,put in two consistently near perfect rounds achieving ACE scores.  Sirja has the most wonderful clean handling style and Daisy is so responsive, always a delight to judge. Lesley and Cocker Spaniel Mitro achieved an ACE score, gaining their Level 1 title and demonstrating some solid rally skills. Gemma worked Cal who is Judge Cristen’s veteran border collie, scoring an amazing 209 and a 206 which is an amazing achievement for both Gemma and Cal, well done. This was a first trial experience for Abbie and Obi a border collie, they showed that they have a good understanding of the exercises and will be a lovely partnership to see develop their skills.  They achieved a GOOD and an OUTSTANDING score. Judge Jayne and cockerpoo Snoopy are working their way back down the levels now, Snoopy, like many of our TD family veteran dogs has a few age related issues, and they took on their first Veteran L1 course, worked it like the pro that he is and gained an ACE score.

Pre-Level 2 / Veteran L2 / Level 2. Lauren and Jasper, a gorgeous red labrador with a fabulously consistent and steady rally style, gained an ACE score and their PL2 Title and AOE. Lauren and Jasper have always been a solid rally team, and this round really demonstrated their partnership and had a superb flow to it.  Well done Lauren and Jasper. Sarah and her Bedlington Cross Ted gained two ACE scores and took full advantage of the permissive nature of Talking Dogs Rally for Ted to wear his fleece jumper which enabled him to perform the down exercises on the hard flooring without feeling uncomfortable.   Ann & Dexter, a veteran Miniature Schnauzer, is also working his way back down the levels, and he always tackles everything he does with speed and commitment.  They achieved two ACE scores. Judge Jayne and Snoopy achieved an ACE score in VL2 which gives them the last score they need for their Veteran Level 2 Championship.  That’s quite a collection of Talking Dogs Rally Championships that Snoopy has now achieved. Hazel worked Hank who is a veteran Pug owned by her Daughter, and they achieved an OUTSTANDING and a GOOD score.  Well done Hazel, it is not easy working multiple dogs in any sport, especially when one of the dogs is not your own. Hazel also worked Yogi who is her own younger Pug with a zest for fun.  It is fair to say that Yogi found the distance control, recalls and distractions difficult in this trial and Hazel took on board feedback for how she can enable Yogi to succeed in future trials.

Level 3 / Veteran L3. Ann and wee Stuie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel gained two ACE scores, and it won’t be long before Stuie has his Level 3 Championship.  Wee Stuie is more than ready for taking on the new L3+ exercises.

Judge Cristen and her Dalmatian Cross Rossi put in two fabulous VL3 rounds achieving ACE scores and gaining their championship

Thank you to everyone for entering the trial, supporting each other to achieve, and helping Cris to set up before and clear up afterwards.  A trial host cannot do this alone, and your support is always very much appreciated.

The next Northern trial is currently being planned for the summer, and will be an outdoor trial.  Keep any eye on the Save the Date page of the website.  

Photos from Risby Trial- January 2024

Risby Blog, January 2024- Written by Judge Jayne

Thank you to Lucy for hosting the trial and giving me the opportunity to judge, and thank you to participants entering the first Talking Dogs Rally trial of 2024.  Although it was a tad chilly outside, the Village Hall was warm, and it was very much appreciated that Lucy had provided a catering service with hot drinks and delicious bacon sandwiches!

An indoor trial environment can present different environmental factors for handlers and dogs, but it was great to see teams overcome these and set their dogs up to succeed and progress through their respective classes.

I have taken a different approach with this blog to previous ones, as I feel it is important to share a few of my overall judging observations amongst the wider Talking Dogs Rally participants so that we can all aim to improve our trial skills. 

Additional Cues The indoor environment highlighted where handlers are using additional cues that might not normally be picked up in an outdoor setting, and when a handler made repetitive clicking or kissing noises to motivate their dog this is amplified in the hall. 

Another type of additional cue is tapping your leg and wiggling your fingers which again tends to be done repeatedly.

Sometimes handlers are not aware that they are doing this, so it is useful to ask someone else to watch and listen for what you do when working a round, and then look at fading out any repetitive noises or hand signals that are identified.  

Handler nerves There is no doubt that entering the trial ring to be judged causes every handler to feel nervous. This is absolutely normal for everyone entering the trial ring.

Try flipping the nerves and emotions over.  Instead of focusing on what you think your dog cannot do, or will not do, look at the positives of what your dog can do and what your dog enjoys doing.

Use your walk-through to identify those exercises that you know you have not fully proofed yet, and have a strategy for how you will deal with this during the round, eg, move onto the next exercise, additional cue, retry.  Try to not let one specific exercise affect the whole of your round.

Take a strategic approach to the things that don’t go well, make a note of which exercises were challenging and work with your trainer to break the exercise down and proof it for future trials.