Sunday, May 1, 2011

What I learned about handling at the National Specialty

As you know by now, I'm a newbie at conformation handling.  That's why I jumped at the chance to attend the handling seminar that Sherri Hurst.  She's one of the top Cardigan handlers, and handled Chase for a while, too.  It turns out that this was a hands-on seminar, so Carolyn & Mandy prodded me into getting Rip to practice.

What were some of the great things that I learned?

  • Pick up the your dog and have them ready to get on the table as soon as the dog ahead of you is off the table
  • Place them on the table nicely - don't just "dump" them there and have to pull them out of heap to get them positioned
  • When Rip's on the table, hold the collar like I'm picking up a pencil.  This looks much better than what I was doing (trust me)
  • Keep Rip's head up while on the table.  I think I'll try to clicker-train this one...
  • Keep the collar right under the jawbone, and make sure that the skin and fur is smooth underneath
I also learned that I'm not a terrible handler.  Sherri complimented me on my handling, and asked if I'd been handling the breed for a while :-)  I said yes, in obedience and agility...  And no, she wasn't drunk when she said that.

After watching lots of Cardi conformation during the Specialty I've also been working on:
  • Allowing Rip to move on a looser leash, and move out in front of me more
  • Stand stay
  • Back-up
Clearly I have lots to learn for conformation handling, the days at the Specialty made me feel at least a bit more confident, and more importantly, helped me learn what to work on.


  1. Sherri's handling seminar was one of the best I've ever seen. The suggestions were so practical and easy to implement. She made handling a dog seem doable. It is great that you participated.

    She did handle Chase. She finished him when he was a puppy (earned fourteen of his nineteen points), and showed him at the Topeka Nationals and again in Houston -- the best thing was that she kept him always happy, always looking forward to going to the shows. THAT is the greatest lesson.

  2. Another very good handler reminded me to position myself between the dog and the judge when taking the dog off the table. That way, the judge doesn't see it if your dismount is less than graceful (see dumping dog on the table).

  3. "Allowing Rip to move on a looser leash, and move out in front of me more"

    Yep, IMO this is the most important thing to learn. Don't "string up" the dog.

  4. I was so mad I missed the seminar, it was the one thing I wanted to do but because of timing I was off at the CWCCA BOD meeting doing the business of the club and it was over by the time I was done. Someday I'll learn to be a better handler.


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