Here comes 'da judge. Yes, that's you!
You've been asked to judge for the very first time. You're pleased. You're flattered. You're terrified. You've suddenly realised there might be some things you might not know or havenít been told about. Experienced judge Lesley Wilks passes on some tips for 'debutante' judges on what to do before, during and after the class.
First of all, there are four essentials you need to have with you.
It is also useful to keep a copy of your course with you. Even if you have sent it on to be set up, you may well arrive at your ring and the obstacles look nothing like the course you had in mind!
Ensure everything is well pegged with the pegs in a safe position.
Try to have a separate start/finish for efficient throughput of competitors. A few seconds saved between runs can add up to a lot of minutes at the end of a long, hot day.
You will probably be nervous for the first 10-20 dogs, especially if there is no clear round. After the first clear, however, youíll begin to relax and then youíll really start to enjoy yourself.
When there are contacts, remember to watch the yellow or whatever colour. Concentrate on that one patch of colour and if you see any part of the dog touch it they cannot be faulted. If you have any doubt then the dog must be given the benefit.
Applaud clear rounds. If you think a dog has run well yet collected faults donít be afraid to clap. Did you ever watch Alan Hale? He claps everyone who has handled their dog well.
You will see strange things occur, especially in the lower classes. You will have to make an instant decision and stick to it. As long as you are consistent and judge every dog the same way, it doesnít matter.
Remember to thank those you think deserve it! Be gracious in accepting whatever gift you may receive. Finally -- donít forget to claim your expenses or donate them to charity or whatever!
Best of all - Go out there and enjoy it because it can be fun.
It wasnít until she moved to Daventry that she found a club that trained the discipline. After sailing through their Obedience course, she commenced agility training, and five months later was let loose on the agility circuit at her very first show. That was it. She was bitten by the bug and has been an addict ever since!
Lesley was thoroughly spoiled by her first dog as he achieved a clear round at his first show, went from Starters to Advanced in six months (although the category wasnít around at the time) and qualified for every major final cumulating in a win at Crufts in 1995.
Since then, she's had two other Senior dogs - one now retired - as well as a superb Flyball dog who helped her team qualify for every final they contested, a 'failed' sheepdog that she took over at 22 months old from her husband who has turned out to be a super little Novice dog with ten seconds and eight third places, and she is now training yet another youngster.
Lesley has traveled the length and breadth of the country, met some super people and, best of all, had fun with my her Cherwell Collies.
Photos: Janet Baxter (Flynn the Rogue Runner), Ellen Rocco (ring parties) & Eric Trafford (weave poles)