Tag Archives: owner handler

Being an Owner Handler is NOT a Death Sentence

I’m an owner handler exhibitor – well, I used to be an owner handler before I matured into an older lady who runs with a gimp, if she runs at all – I let a handler do the running these days. But, while I was an owner handler I love, love, loved being in the ring, and it goes without saying that my love amplified to a rock music decibel when I won. I’ve finished many dogs from many various classes, especially Bred by Exhibitor, and I’ve won my fair share of trips to the winners circle at Gordon Setter Specialties. Group judging was beyond what I considered my forte, that’s where I’d really expect a dog to shine, and knowing my limitations, that’s when I would choose to step back and let a pro take the lead. Today, because of my physical restrictions, I content myself to sit ring side leading the cheering squad. And, manning the water bucket…and handing over the brush…and passing out the bait…

With that said, frequently, I hear comments by exhibitors about how political the judging was, or how “the win” was stacked before the show even started. And just as frequently, I happened to agree with the judge’s decision that day (even if my dog lost) which left me wondering if falling back on that oft voiced complaint, was doing more harm to exhibitors than most of us realize.  Certainly if you think about it, if my dog with a pro handling was a winner that day, I didn’t think that judging was political…I thought we deserved that win. Wouldn’t you? For the winners sake, and many other reasons, I’m hoping to help bring understanding, especially for folks who are struggling to win, about the many, many variables of conformation judging. Sometimes, and often times, politics had nothing to do with the winners that day. I’d like us to give judges, the pros, and the sport a break, at least when it’s deserved!

When I’m watching judging, I am often overwhelmed with the desire to help some hapless exhibitor gain control over their dog, or grab a dog to help the owner learn a better way to groom, or maybe just to shake an exhibitor into consciousness so they go to the ring when called. I’m no professional folks, I’m just like all of you, but one thing I do know, and would share with you, is my belief and experience that the professional often wins because he or she is a professional, doing a professional job. (can you paint your car, bake cupcakes, do taxes, or any one of a million other jobs as well as a pro?) Most times there is an obvious difference in the ring appearance of a professionally handled dog versus the owner entry, and what I would share is that we owner handlers must develop our skill so we look and act like the pro, to make our dogs appear their best, to present only well-groomed, conditioned and trained dogs, if we intend to compete on an equal level. Owner handlers can and do win without doubt, but we too must do the work of a pro, and earn our wins by showing the judge the best our dog has to offer.

So, I started out to write this blog about what an owner handler can master to be competitive in the dog show ring, when I remembered that well-worn phrase “Google It” and that worked! I found many well written articles that offer the same advice I would write for you. Whether you’re just starting as a novice handling your own dog, or simply believe you “just can’t win”, before complaining or blaming another for your loss, or worse yet leave the sport, perhaps you’ll read this, take time to evaluate yourself and your dog, and objectively consider the “picture” you and your Gordon Setter presented when you lost. Did you do your best but were beaten that time by a better dog, or could you have done something more to improve the odds in your dog’s favor? No, it’s not always your fault your dog loses, but you’ve got to even the playing field first with skill, know your dog’s attributes and faults, and then consider, carefully, very carefully, if politics was at play, or if perhaps, you just don’t agree with this judge’s opinion on this particular set of dogs.

I love owner handlers and I would do anything to help you win, so you learn to love the sport as much as me, because I’ve lived that dream and know it can happen…but if you want really good advice, ask the pros, and take the time, lots of time, to watch them work, really watch them in action. There is so much you can learn there!

There’s a list below, links to articles to help you prepare to win. These are a great place to help get you to the place where you can know the thrill of being a winning owner handler. (Oh, and also “Google It” for yourself, there’s so much more information out there, I’ve only picked a few.)

Finally, go to dog shows to watch and observe. Spend hours watching the grooming, various random breed classes, the Groups etc., paying close attention to the pro’s and those winning owner handlers! Best use of your time and classroom setting ever!

good sport
Photo by Bob Segal

Win or Lose never forget BE A GOOD SPORT!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photo by Bob Segal from GSCA National Specialty 2014

Owner Handler Advice

Video link: Want to Win Best in Show as an Owner Handler?

Looking Back with Lee – Pro Handlers vs. Owner-Handlers – being an Owner-Handler is not a DEATH SENTENCE! 

 

AKC Event Operations July 2015 Changes

Conformation exhibitors, the following changes have been published by AKC Event Operations, July 2015.

  • National Owner Handler series changes to ribbon colors and BIS judges eligibilty requirements.
  • Apprentice Judge Training
  • Conformation Judges Books
  • 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition Professional Handler Definition
  • Practice Rings at Conformation Events

Event OperationsEvent Operations

Event Operation is committed to providing clubs and exhibitors regular communication regarding new, changed, and clarified rules, regulations, policies, and procedures. Several items at the July 2015 Board meeting were approved that have an impact on clubs and we wanted to take this opportunity to notify and explain them to you.

AKC National Owner-Handled Series updates (effective October 8, 2015)

Ribbon Colors
In order to bring consistency to this program, the following required ribbon colors have been adopted for NOHS events:
NOHS Best of Breed/Variety – Maroon
NOHS Group 1 – Neon Pink
NOHS Group 2 – Neon Green
NOHS Group 3 – Teal
NOHS Group 4 – Cream
NOHS Best in Show – Turquoise
NOHS Reserve Best in Show – Light Green

Judges Guidelines

A single judge should not be used to do all the NOHS Groups & Best in Show
A judge should not be assigned the NOHS Group prior to judging that same group for the all-breed show.

Limited Status Junior Judges Eligible to Judge Group Shows (effective October 1, 2015)
Junior Showmanship Judges with Limited Status that are approved to judge at single breed specialties for every breed in a group will now be eligible to judge Junior Showmanship classes at a Group Show of those breeds.

Junior Showmanship Master Class Criteria (effective October 7, 2015)
The eligibility criteria for the Masters Class will be earning 10 Best Junior Handler awards with competition. The calendar for this class remains consistent with the eligibility dates for the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. As a reminder, all clubs offering Junior Showmanship competition must offer the Master Class.

Apprentice Judge Training
The Board of Directors at its June 2015 meeting adopted a new Conformation Judging Approval Process to be effective September 1, 2015. Included in the Board’s new policy is the ability for prospective breed judges to gain education by completing Apprentice Training experiences in that breed. Apprentice Trainings involve the prospective breed judge observing the judging from inside of the ring. The Mentor and Apprentice may discretely discuss the entry during the judging.

Prospective judges who wish to complete Apprentice Training experiences are required to schedule and receive consent from the Show Chairman and Mentor Judge prior to the opening of the show. There are additional requirements before an experience may be completed or who may serve as a mentor judge which are not the responsibility of the Chair to confirm have been met. AKC Judging Operations will confirm all requirements have been met before educational credit is assigned for a completed experience. No Apprentice Trainings may be scheduled prior to September 1, 2015.

Conformation Judges Books (effective January 1, 2016)
In order to reduce confusion regarding the purpose of check boxes for judges and exhibitors, the following changes have been made to the Conformation Judges’ Book format:

Remove the check box for withholding Winners & Reserve
Remove the check box next to Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex
Change the wording of Grand Championship points to: If withholding Grand Championship points from Best of Breed or Best of Opposite Sex please note GCH points withheld by the appropriate number.

4-6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition Professional Handler Definition (effective October 1, 2015)
In order to make the definition of professional handler consistent with the AKC NOHS definition the following change was approved:

Professional handlers are defined as any person who belongs or has belonged to a professional handlers’ organization, distributed rate cards, or otherwise advertised or represented themselves as handling dogs for pay within the last five years. Dogs may not be exhibited by current assistants and household members of a professional handler.

4-6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition Show Report (reminder)
We have situations where a Report of Open Show or 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy form is not submitted when there are no entries for the competition. This causes a delay in results processing as we have to contact the club to determine the status of the report. When a club schedules a 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy competition, a Report of Open Show or 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy form must be submitted as part of results processing even when there were no entries in the competition.

Practice Rings at Conformation Events
Clubs are encouraged to set-up show-and-go practice rings at their events. There are a number of benefits to this including providing stress-free mentoring to interested new exhibitors and allowing new exhibitors and younger dogs the opportunity to have a positive experience at an event. You can read an article written by AKC Executive Field Representative Sandra D’Andrea on the benefits of offering practice rings at an event here.

OWNER-HANDLERS: ADVICE FROM PROS AND PEERS

2014 national
Photo by Bob Segal

I’m an owner handler exhibitor – well, I used to be an owner handler before I matured into an older lady who runs with a gimp and who can’t keep up with her dogs – I let a handler do the work these days. But, while I was an owner handler I love, love, loved being in the ring and it goes without saying that my overwhelming feeling of love amplified to rock music decibel when I also won. I finished dogs from the Bred by Exhibitor class and have earned my fair share of wins at Gordon Setter Specialties. Group judging was beyond what I considered my forte, that’s where I’d really expect a dog to shine and that’s when I would step back to let a pro take the lead. Today, with my physical restrictions I sit ring side to man the cheering station…oh, and the water bucket…and the brush…and, well, that list is quite long you know.

With all that said, I am sometimes taken aback when comments are made by exhibitors regarding how political a judge may be, how the win was stacked before the show started, how only professional handlers ever win under this and that judge, I’m sure you’re getting my drift.  Sometimes when I’m watching Gordon Setter judging I am overwhelmed by the desire to help some hapless exhibitor get control over their dog, or grab a dog to show the owner a better way to groom, or maybe it’s to wake some exhibitor so they get to the ring on time. I’m no professional folks, I’m just like most of you, but one thing I do know and would like to share with you is that it is my belief that the professional often wins because he/she is a professional doing a professional job. Most times there is an obvious difference in the ring appearance of the professionally handled entry versus the owner handler’s Gordon Setter, and what I would like to say to all who bemoan their losses is that we must learn to look and act like a professional, to make our dogs appear to be handled professionally, to present only well groomed, conditioned and trained dogs if we intend to compete on that same playing field. Owner handlers can and do win without a doubt, but we too need earn the win by showing the judge the very best our dog has to offer.

So, I started out to write this long blog about the basics an owner handler needs to learn and master in order to be competitive in the dog show ring when what to my wandering eye did appear but an article, well written and presenting the same advice I would share with you, my fellow exhibitors. Whether you’re just starting as a novice handling your own dog or if you’re simply feeling like you just can’t win, before complaining or blaming the pro for your loss, perhaps you might read this and judge yourself and the picture you and your Gordon Setter presented when you lost. Did you do your best but were beaten by a better dog, or could you have done something more to stack the odds in your own favor?

I love owner handlers and I would do everything I know to help you win…but if you want really good advice, ask the pros and when all else fails take the time to watch them work, really watch them in action, there is so much to learn there! This article is a great place to start to learn how to be on your way to being a winning owner handler.

Here’s the article  – hope you enjoy! Owner-Handlers: Advice from Pros and Peers edited and compiled by JP Yousha

good sport
Photo by Bob Segal

Don’t forget – Be a Good Sport!

Sally Gift

OWNER-HANDLERS: ADVICE FROM PROS AND PEERS.