Competing in Heelwork to Music and Freestyle

Once you are ready to start competing, you can find details of Heelwork to Music Competitions by emailing the Kennel Club to request a list of Competition dates from the Canine Activities Team (email). You could also download the list of Heelwork to Music competitions in the next 12 months by clicking here.

Going to your first competition

  1. Once you have decided which competition you might like to attend, contact the Secretary shown in the Events Diary (see "Events" in the sidebar) to request a schedule
  2. Check the classes for which you are eligible (if you are just starting this will be Starters classes) - and send off the entry form and your payment - watch out for the closing date
  3. Check on the requirements for your music - usually explained in the schedule but if in doubt call the Secretary to check. Always take a spare tape, CD, DVD etc in case of technical problems.
  4. On the day of the competition, remember your props and costume, music, the schedule and directions to the venue, your HTM Record Book and any entry passes you have been sent. And your dog!
  5. Allow plenty of time; get ready early; chat to your fellow competitors and watch their routines to learn useful tips and moves.

What the Judges are looking for

To give you an idea of what you should include in your Heelwork to Music or Freestyle routines, judges mark all Heelwork to Music performances using the following criteria:

a. Programme Content - 10 marks pros

  1. The programme content conforms to the definitions for Heelwork to Music or Freestyle and should be varied, with no excessive repetition of movement, and content being appropriate to the routine. 
  2. Movement should be appropriate to the structure and conformation of the dog.
  3. The movements of the dog should have a greater impact than those of the handler.
  4. Degree of difficulty of movements should be taken into account.

b. Accuracy and Execution of Movement - 10 marks

  1. Movements including heelwork are accurately and smoothly executed.
  2. The dog should work in a natural and willing manner.
  3. The dog should respond promptly and appropriately to the cues given (including use of props).
  4. Bearing and deportment of the handler is appropriate and should be appropriate to the routine; dog and handler should work as a team.

c. Musical Interpretation - 10 marks

  1. Interpretation of the rhythm, phrasing and timing should be apparent; the choice of music should suit the team.
  2. Choreography should be apparent, flowing and not a series of disjointed moves. The routine should include balance, structure and making best use of available space.
  3. Primary emphasis of musical interpretation should be on the dog's movements although the handler should/may be expressive.
  4. Handlers' dress and any props used should be suitable and applicable to the interpretation of the routine.


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