Firstly I have to say that it was a real honour to be invited to judge at the Open European Championship 2011. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Denmark and we were looked after impeccably well from the moment we landed in Copenhagen airport to the time we left. I have never flown before and had always had a certain amount of trepidation at the thought! However, my friend Sandra who also competes in HTM said she would go with me as she has flown lots of times, and I couldn’t have done without her. So, I applied for a passport, and Denmark was to be my first adventure out of my country!
The guest house where Sandra and I and also Anja, the Norwegian judge were staying was very clean and comfortable. The company all weekend was great. Thank you to whoever made our lunches at the competition (that was Laila Clausen) and to our dinner hosts Emmy and Iben for taking us out each evening for a very tasty meal. It was much appreciated. I haven’t eaten so much in a long time!
Thank you to Emmy again for giving up her time on Monday to take us all sightseeing and shopping before our return flight.
On to the competition, which revealed some fantastic routines with a variety of breeds which proves any dog can excel at this sport. There were many routines which were performed incredibly well which made judging very difficult at times, especially in the finals of both HTM and Freestyle.
The Heelwork routines that stood out for me were Karen Sykes with her working sheepdog Iatka Spring Spangle (GB) working to ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’, the accuracy and attention of this dog is fantastic as was the interpretation of the music.
Thierry Thomas from France with his border collie dog Ubac also did a fabulous routine using music from ‘Zorro’ which was exceptional in all the requirements.
Anja Christiansen from Denmark performed to ‘The Avatar Theme’ which was expertly interpreted with fast changes of pace very well performed.
The Freestyle routines, again Thierry Thomas with Ubac, his dog. He had a lot of props but used every single one to tell the story of a Gladiator fight and was very moving when he was injured and the dog helped him up and they ended as friends. This dog worked on his own away from Thierry with immaculate expertise.
Russia’s Galina Chocgovadze with her Border Collie performing to ‘Hava Nagila’ was very fast and the audience ended up joining in and clapping to the music.
Great Britains Kath Hardman and Lesley Neville whose routines flowed well and were expertly timed and interpreted. Excellent routines from both.
Other Freestyle routines which brought a smile to my face and had humour and fun in them were Russia’s Olga Kuzina performing to ‘Blue Canary’ with her lovely bouncy chocolate Labrador, where they were trying to catch the bird and the dog ‘caught’ it in the end and put it in Olga’s net. A very colourful and happy routine.
Minna Estemaa from Germany with her Malinois performing to ‘Bad Boys’. I liked the bark on command when Mina was trying to think of a way to get the case of money from the dog who was guarding it. They both looked to be having a lot of fun.
A move I was not so keen on was a dog ‘handstand’ where the dog, a border collie,balanced on it’s front legs and nose on the ground. The dog seemed happy enough to perform it ,but I’m not so sure repeated attempts at this move (to perfect it for competition) would not cause stress on the shoulders and spine of the dog eventually, especially as a collie has a longer back than some dogs.
I felt more of an ‘ow’ than a ‘wow’ when I saw it. It is not a natural move for a dog and I think that is why I didn’t find it so impressive but that is only my opinion..
Emotional moments for me were Belgiums Luc Daems performing to ‘Music was my first love’ with his white GSD and Hollands Bregtje Hut with her border collie performing to ‘You raise me up’, both with emotional endings.
The moment when Team GB stood as winners of the Gold for Great Britain in Heelwork to Music, to hear our National Anthem was very moving and I felt so proud of them. Well done Kath and Amber, Karen and Fly and Lesley and Angus, a very well deserved win. Well done also for all your freestyle routines that were also a credit to you and GB.
I loved the White dog routines before the start of the competitions as it seemed to settle everyone in before the competition started.
Thank you to every one involved in making the OEC such a great success from beginning to end. It all ran like clockwork. Also for all your hard work leading up to and during the week end for making this a most memorable event for me. It was a privilege to be part of it. My special thanks to Emmy, who although she must have been so tired, kept smiling until the moment we said ’good bye’ and was a perfect host throughout.
All photos by ASTA Photo