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Issue: 08/06/2018

Well done Jane

Well done Jane Lilley on highlighting in her column (4 May) what no-one else seems to have mentioned thus far, and which I have felt from the very first introduction of the Judges Competency scheme: that it doesn't seem to recognise in any way the supremely valuable experience gained in completing actual judging appointments. 
Like many who have reached the higher echelons of their art, craft or trade, it seems that the architects of the Framework have become so expert and adept at what they do that they 'forget' what it is like to be on that early learning curve, and where one really "learns".
Although on a "B" List, and with many stewarding days completed, I still consider myself a "novice" judge - even if I were the BIS judge at Crufts I would consider that there is still a lot to learn, (that's my approach to life!). Though to date I have only completed a modest number of judging appointments, I can identify a number of things that I have learned at every one - yet the JCF doesn't have any mechanism for recognising what may be the most important things one learns in actually "doing the job".
Crucially, these are things one would never learn at a seminar - and definitely wouldn't be in any online tick box exercise. First, there is the business of being stood, alone, in the middle of the ring with everyone's eyes upon us! Stewarding, and lots of it, definitely contributes confidence in preparation for this experience. The judge must have the confidence to "run" the ring - sometimes thwarted by pushy stewards, sometimes plain incompetent and sometimes awkward and condescending to a person they know  is a novice judge. And there are the usual practical considerations e.g. where to stand the exhibits - not with the sun behind them, for instance.
Most important of all, when Breed Clubs organise seminars they invite people to bring along dogs who, above all, would be happy standing all afternoon whilst a comparatively large number of people go over them, each person of varying experience and "competence" in so doing. Therefore there are many things the novice judge is never going to experience in a seminar situation: nervous dogs, novice exhibits, novice exhibitors, stroppy exhibitors, interfering ringsiders, and many more. 
One may even say that knowing a breed, and judging it, is a separate thing to the actual practicalities of 'real' judging. As Eric Clapton once said, 'if all you ever do is practice then practising is all you'll ever be good at'; there is nothing that can replace the experience of performing live, on stage, in front of an audience.
It is said that the feedback from the first "pilot schemes" have contributed constructive criticism to the original Framework, which seems to me to be tokenistic towards the "new" judges whilst easily promoting those already giving tickets to do so in more and more breeds, and groups. How is that so different to "gaining the numbers", the old system which the JDF seeks to replace? Much has been written over the years about the legendary train journeys of old where "young" judges would learn valuable lessons alongside fellow passengers of great knowledge and experience ~ a world away from a computerised "tick box". I could ask the architects of the JCF ~ where exactly did you learn how to do this, or how to manage that? I'm pretty sure it wasn't on a computer!
With respect to the lovely exhibitors who have generously given me the privilege of an entry, and some of the really lovely stewards who helped make my day easier, in view of some comments above perhaps I should say that these are things I have both experienced and observed ~ and why I prefer to be "Name and Address Supplied"!
Yours etc
Name and address supplied

A Welsh welcome for all

This year's WKC Ch Show has an international flavour with judges from several overseas countries officiating - some familiar names and others judging in the UK for the first time.  All are well respected both internationally and in their home countries.
From USA the very well known, and home grown in Wales, Peter Green judging Best in Show, Best Puppy in Show and Best Veteran in Show. 
Also from the USA, Edd Bivin judging Working Group, Samoyed and Bulldog, as well as  Beth Sweigart judging the KC Breeders' Competition.
From Australia, the internationally well known, All Breeds judge, Erin Brown, judging Borzoi, Finnish Spitz, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Australian Terrier and Akita.
From The Netherlands, Rony Doedijns, judging Pug, Boxer and French Bulldog. From France, Alain Dumortier (Graal Quest) judging Whippet and Poodle (Miniature). From Norway, Espen Engh  judging Bolognese, Coton de Tulear, Havanese, Dogue de Bordeaux, German Spitz (Klein) and German Spitz (Mittel).  
Also from Norway, Age Gjetnes judging Saluki, Portuguese Podengo and Poodle (Toy) and from Italy, Dr Ludovica Salamon,  judging Irish Wolfhound and Gordon Setter. Also from Italy, Dr M C P Ivaldi judging Italian Spinone. From Finland, Vesa Lehtonen judging West Highland White Terrier and Kerry Blue Terrier From Sweden, Fredrik Nilsson judging Pomeranian.
From Eire, Paul Lawless judging St Bernard, Hovawart, Canaan Dog and Eurasier, Kooikerhondje plus AVNSC, AV imp. Reg. Day 1 & Day 3.  Also from Eire, Jean Lawless judging Siberian Husky and Eukanuba Puppy Stakes,
Tickets for the Friday evening Dinner/Dance can be ordered with entries or directly from the secretaries on 01446 792457.
KC accredited Trainer, Ruth Barbour, will deliver KC Seminars over the three days of the WKC show.  Details can be found on Page 4 of the schedule. 
The Kennel Club Road Show will be in attendance with drop in sessions available from 2:00pm each day where any queries about the JCF can be answered.
We look forward to seeing you all there. 
Yours etc
The WKC committee

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