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If you attend a judging seminar to learn, how do you know what you are being taught is factual as opposed to the presenter’s faulty personal opinions?


November 2021 UUpdate

Barbara J. Andrews/a>, Editor-In-Chief, SAAB


HHeld at the host lodging hotel, the SC 'judges training seminar' was a 3-day event. It was hosted by the United Kennel Club which didn't make it unique but the presenters did! In 2006 there were many stand-alone, in-depth studies whereas in 2021 most "educational opportunities" are held after the show when judges are tired, hungry, or have other engagements.


Such "after or during the show" Judging Seminars may fullfill a check-off requirement but teach little. Even a full day judges education seminar may lack valuable content. Stand-alone two-day programs are a rarity today and may still be a useless financial strain on judges when they leaving knowing little more about a breed or group than when they arrived.


 The three day jam-packed United Kennel Club JUDGES EDUCATION program held in Greenville, SC was a notable exception. No one left without enthusiasm for each breed presented and for the judging process itself.


Presented by Mark Threlfall and Kathy Lorentzen, it was comfortable, constructively formatted and well attended. What made it so different was the emphasis for a consistently positive approach to judging. In order to accomplish that, particularly in breeds they were there to explore, “i>The Power Of Positive Judging and Critiquing” was not lip service to a concept. It was a demand that set the stage for discovery.

Judges should evaluate dogs in a positive manner. Successful breeders do so consciously when selecting breeding stock. Both AKC and UKC judges are encouraged to avoid fault judging. The best judges stress an appreciation for virtues over faults and indeed, is was eloquently, sensibly, and consistently taught in the three-day UKC seminar.


UKC SEMINAR PRESENTER MARK THRELFALL Credit must go to the moderators. Mark Threlfall was an extraordinary AKC handler. The protégé of William Trainer and Jane Forsythe, he handled nearly 500 dogs to their AKC titles, with all-breed Best In Show wins in every group.


His presentation of the Springer, Ch. Salilyn’s Condor, #1 All Breeds with 104 Best In Show wins including Westminster 1993 was mesmerizing. Mark was the youngest board member of the Professional Handlers Association and served as President from 1989 through his retirement in 1995 when he became Director of Communications for AKC. In 1999 Mark moved to the UKC as Director of Dog Events. Mark Threlfall sees the sport from every angle.


KATHY LORENTZEN, UKC & AKC BREEDER-JUDGECo-presenter Kathy Lorentzen is a Golden Retriever and English Springer Spaniel breeder, known for top producers and owner-handling her dogs to many Specialty, Group and Best In Show wins. An AKC and UKC approved judge, she has judged Specialty shows both here and abroad and graced the Westminster judging panel. Like Mark, Kathy excels in organizational and communicative skills so they brought extraordinary skills to the UKC multi-breed, multi-faceted Judges’ seminar.


Dog show judges will ususally critque your dog if you are politeMy judge-friend and I were impressed with the emphasis on b>Positive Judging. We had 'heard it all before' but never had the methodology been so clearly taught! Participants were required to do verbal critiques as they placed each class. It can be hard enough to elucidate what you admired in a dog but it’s even harder to explain, according to each standard, why each dog deserved its respective placement...


& By contrast, AKC dog show judges are not required to explain their placements, in fact, many consider it unwise to do so. Verbal critiques are foreign to most AKC judges but we like to thing that those who judge dogs must do mental critiques in order to accurately and fairly assess a class.


As an aside, cat show judges explain to an avid audience, the outstanding virtues in each top ten winner. Accountability and demonstrated knowledge is the key in cat show and UKC judging and many exhibitors wish that were so in AKC Group and Best In Show rings.


Getting from the point where one is capable of relating assessments and placements to the breed standard to then verbalizing that mental process for a critical ringside is a challenge for anyone! In this UKC judging seminar the participant were patiently coached until they became adept.


As an example of verbal critiques, “I prefer this dog’s front but his rear could be better.” By the second day, participants were comfortable with a comparative thought process centered on virtues rather than faults.


Verbal critiques centered on brief specificity like “This is my first place dog because of his outstanding head, correct harsh coat and moderate angulation.” (Features ranked highest in that breed standard.) “I award this dog second because of his lovely ear set, expression, and set on of tail” paid respect to qualities also important to the breed. “My third place dog excels in bone, substance, and powerful movement” calls attention to desired breed characteristics without pointing out that his head, coat or tail set might be lacking. Fourth place virtues in a small class might be explained simply as “My fourth place dog has an ideal topline for the breed.”


By the last day judges were able to quickly and comfortably explain how and why they arrived at their placements.


There was no lip service to “judging by the standard.” Adherence to the breed standard in the order of listed priorities is the key with which any judge can open the door to a judging process which may not please everyone but can be criticized by none./font>


The first judging requirement is to know the standard and award dogs according to primary breed characteristics. The demand for features of breed type is paramount with secondary emphasis on overall structure or movement. Fault or “generic” judging demonstrates lack of breed knowlege. When this mental adjustment was firmly established, even those of us not familiar with a breed could “ringside judge” the class according to its Breed Standard. EST 2002 © Oct 2006





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