Junior Handling

Junior Handling in the UK

Zöe Jackson

All dog shows in the UK come under the rules and regulations of the Kennel Club. To encourage young people to show their dogs the Kennel Club has set up the Young Kennel Club (YKC), members of the YKC are aged under 25 years and most general championship shows and a few large open shows schedule classes for members to compete in. These are not handling classes, the dogs are judged on merit. In these classes the breeds are judged on a group basis and entries at championship shows are usually around 35 dogs. The winners of these classes during the year qualify for the finals at Crufts dog show which is held at the NEC near Birmingham every March. The YKC also runs handling classes at most championship shows. Ages for these classes are 6-11 years, 12-16 years, and 17-25 years. Winners of these classes also qualify for Crufts where they compete for the best YKC handler in their respective age/breed groups.

The YKC hold several camps in various locations around the country each year where handling skills can be improved and other deviations of the dogs scene can be enjoyed by its members. These include Agility, Obedience, and Fly Ball. The YKC encourages top-class all-rounders to come and help the juniors improve their skills.

Another organisation in the UK just for juniors is the Young Handling Association. This was started by Liz Cartledge. Most shows (both championship and open) hold classes for young handlers. These classes are split into two age groups 6-11 years and 12-16years. Those placed first to third in each class qualify for the junior handling semi-finals which are held at Richmond Championship show in September each year. These classes are very well filled. The Gundog group always seems to attract the largest entry of 20 plus dogs in each age group.

There are quite a few young handlers who are very successful in our breed, and most of the Welsh Springer exhibitors are very friendly and sporting towards young people.

I do not enter handling competitions myself, however, last year as a member of the YKC I was lucky enough to qualify for the YKC Stakes final at Crufts 2005. The YKC have there own spacious, carpeted ring in Hall 3 at this famous dog show. Even though we were unplaced on the day it was a great occasion and a wonderful experience for me and Mabli, my Welshie. I am very fortunate to handle my Welshie in the breed competition at shows. We have been very successful, gaining a JW, a BIS, a couple of Gundog Groups, and several firsts at championship shows including Crufts 2005.

My sister Fern Jackson (11 years) has started taking my mother’s bitch Wynne in handling classes at breed club shows. These handling classes are not as demanding as at general shows, especially in the younger age class. Most judges just require handlers to show the dog as it would be in a normal show class. Sometimes the judge will walk around the dog expecting the handler to react accordingly. They will also expect the handlers to notice when the judge has changed places, so as to ensure the handler never gets between the judge and the exhibit. Fern won her class at the WSSC of South Wales open show in January, and was awarded Best Junior Handler at the South Eastern WSSC Open Show in May.

At general open shows (not single breed shows) judges often ask handlers to move their dogs in specific patterns (such as ‘L’s or ‘T’s) I have even heard of a judge asking a older handler to move in the pattern of a ‘M’!!! Judges expect the handlers to make sure their dog is not out of line with the others, that they do not make more of themselves than their dog and therefore detract the judge away from the exhibit. They also mark down if a dog is stood the wrong way round – they should always face towards the left (if viewing from the front).

Related Pages:

Breed Activities
PAT Dogs