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Show Processing

From one newbie to another

Tracy Sowden admits to being very new to show processing but has found it very interesting. Luckily, she's only had to cope with postal entries, but she's been amazed at how much chasing up there is to do bearing in mind that the two shows she's worked on so far have been relatively small. Just a few quick checks before sending the entry form in could make all the difference. Competitors ready?

It is amazing how many people I have met who don't know how to fill out an entry form, what to expect back as running orders - or even what they mean! Many new competitors don't seem to have be told anything by their clubs about what to do when they get to a show. So here are some tips from someone who has just recently tried her hand at show processing.

Filling in the entry form
Please use BLOCK CAPITALS. It is incredible how many people ignore this. As a result, it is really difficult, in some instances, to read the entry forms. Also, use a biro preferably black or blue. It's easier to read.

Make sure you put down either a telephone number and/or email address in case of emergency or query about your entry form. If using email, only put this down if you check it regularly. If you are not going to be at your home just prior to the show, make sure you put down your mobile number or a number where you can be contacted in case the show is cancelled. 

I found it very frustrating when I was trying to contact people who hadn't signed their entry forms and found that one or two hadn't put down any form of contact information other than an address. I have come across this a couple of times recently and it can be very time consuming to track people down.

Be sure to fill in all details asked for. If you don't know your dog's date of birth, put 'unknown'. Don't forget the Kennel Club number if you have it. If you have applied for your dog's name to be registered, put the preferred name you have applied for in the Dog's Name box and put NAF in the KC number box.

Finally make sure you have entered the correct classes. You only need to fill out one line - and one form - per dog unless another person is handling the dog too. Put all the classes you are entering in one box - the one on the same line as the other details.

Before you post your entry check that you have done the following:-

  1. Signed the entry form and checked that you have completed all the boxes.

  2. Signed the cheque

  3. Made the cheque out correctly

  4. Make sure you have added the postage in, if required.

Advice to show organisers
A point for clubs when designing entry forms, people very rarely fill in a separate section for NFC dogs especially if it is on a separate sheet. They usually write them in the entry section or on the back of the form, so you could save paper by leaving out the separate section.

Also to help with printing, it is better to have the schedule and the entry form - unless separate documents - both the same format - either landscape or portrait. I have been amazed how many people had trouble printing a combined schedule and entry form because the schedule was portrait and the entry form was landscape. Not all of us are computer savvy.

Going to shows
For those who are entering their first show and don't know what running orders are, this is what you should receive in the post.

You will have a ring card for each dog you have entered. There will be a unique Ring Number on it for each dog/handler combination.  It will also show the handler name and dog's name. Then there will be a list of the classes you have entered, which ring they are in and your running number for each of those classes.

Usually if your running number has an asterisk (*) next to it, this means that particular class is first in the ring which means you definitely need to get to the showground early to walk the course first thing.  If a class has a lot of entries and has had to be split into parts, this will be indicated on your running orders. In this case, your running number will show two things 1) your running number over the whole of the class and 2) your actual running number - usually in brackets - in that part of the class (e.g. if a class has 500 entries and has been split into two parts with 250 in each and you are in Part 2, your running number will look like this: 300(50).

With your ring card, you usually will receive a ring plan. This is a sheet of paper showing which classes are in which ring. It is a good idea to highlight the classes you are in especially if you have more than one dog.

Information Sheets are sometimes sent out if there is specific information that you need to know i.e .special rules for a venue. Camping Passes are only sent if you are camping. Don't forget to take it with you. If you have offered to help - and it is a good idea - you should get a form which will tell you which day(s), ring(s) or job(s) you have been allocated.

I also got a lot of calls from first timers who didn't know what to expect back after they had sent in their entry forms.  It seems that although clubs encourage members to enter shows they don't tell them how to go about things. Suggestion: Why not have a session for new people showing them entry forms and running orders and explaining what they mean. They would also find it useful to know what to do when they get to a show. 

I had several people ring me asking if they really needed to get to the show for 8am. Perhaps a training session that is a mock up of a show so that they know to look for a caller, that they need to queue up, that they need to wait to be told by the scribe or judge that they can start their run.  It may also help people to learn how to do the jobs that help to run a show and perhaps they would then be prepared to help out.

About the author...
Tracy Sowden started in agility about ten years ago with Watson, a collie x springer. Her husband, Neil forecast her staying power about six weeks! Then Neil got interested in agility and so along came Jade, their first Border Collie, for Neil to compete with. Around this time, they also started going around the shows with a photography trade stand.

Then they decided that Watson needed to retire and so they got Finn who is Jade's younger brother. Finn doesn't do agility as he gets overexcited and can't cope - he prefers obedience. Tracy then went to help at a local rescue centre (Somerset & Dorset Animal Rescue) as they needed help to offload a van full of dogs arriving from Ireland. They ended up with Remy, a red and white collie who came over on the ferry at about three weeks old with her mum and a brother and sister. Remy is due to start her agility career this year.

Last year after trying very hard to say no, Tracy and Neil rescued Tam, another black and white collie. His claim to fame is having his photo on some of the James Wellbeloved posters and being on the poster boards for their Crufts stand last year.

The rescue centre kindly let them have use of a field so they bought their own equipment from Adams Agility so that they could train the dogs themselves. She has  taught agility at Chippenham Agility Club and helped to organise their shows.

Four years ago Tracy took the Judges Exam at Longleat and, to her great surprise, passed! Neil passed his exam a couple of months later. The highlight of her judging career so far was judging last year's Team Dash final at Dashin' Dogs. She really enjoys judging and they both love helping at shows.