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Crufts Judges Interviews 2017

4th April 2017 - 12:00 PM


The Kennel Club interviews obedience judges Alan Gresty and Lee Lampert where they discuss the joys and challenges of obedience judging, along with providing top tips for people who have started their journey into the fantastic world of obedience.

Alan Gresty (Championship Obedience Judge)

How long have you been competing in Obedience?          

I have been competing since early 1982.

When did you start judging and why did you decide to start?     

I started judging the lower classes in 1988 and judged my first CC in January 2000. Why did I start? I just felt that you should give back to any sport or activity you are involved in, and dog clubs and societies have always struggled to get enough judges for their shows. But the more I did the more I enjoyed it.

What dogs do you own and handle?   

Working Sheepdogs

How do you prepare for an event like Crufts?     

Preparing for the Obedience Championships at Crufts is a very unique experience. To facilitate judging you need the help and support of a team of eight people. As your appointment is confirmed three years in advance of the event you have plenty of time to prepare. The first thing you need to do is design the test. This takes an awful lot of thought as you need not only to test the dogs and handlers, but also make it interesting for the spectators and indeed put on a show. Then comes many months of meetings and practice sessions to perfect the round and also everything has to be timed down to the last few minutes as our competition lasts the full day and it has to fit in to the Kennel Club schedule. This of course involves all eight of your Stewards who also have to perfect their role in the ring party.

What is the most challenging aspect of judging an event like Crufts?    

The whole preparation is challenging. The most challenging is definitely designing the test, after that it is finding a suitable venue to hold your practice sessions as the area needs to be the same size as our Crufts ring which is 28 meters square, it also has to be dog friendly which is getting more and more difficult and hopefully not too expensive. Then comes coordinating shopping trips with eight people to buy the team outfits, that’s a job and a half. After that preparation, the event and the judging is an absolute joy.

Did anyone in particular stand out in your judging?    

So many stood out. There were some fabulous teams, all of which on another day could have been in the line-up, but I can't mention them all. But of course my winners over the two days, Ria McGovern and her Working Sheepdog Vito (dog) and Karen Davies and her Border Collie Lolly (bitch).

What would be your top 5 tips for someone starting in Obedience?    

  • First find a really good dog club -  one which does have people already competing in  Obedience.
  • Only get involved with people that promote positive training.
  • Learn to be very patient.
  • Before you get too involved, be sure your dog enjoys the training.
  • Check your bank balance!

What did you watch when you were not judging?   

We watched the Inter-Regional competition on the Friday and we also watched Best in Show on Sunday evening after we had finished judging.

Anything else you think will be of interest to Obedience enthusiasts and competitors?

I think it would be interesting for a lot of enthusiasts and competitors to get more of an insight into what judges and their ring parties do have to go through in their preparation for Crufts. I'm sure past judges would be more than happy to cooperate.

Lee Lampert (Inter-Regional Obedience Judge)

How long have you been competing in Obedience?          

I have been competing in competitive obedience for 40 years.

When did you start judging and why did you decide to start?     

I started judging in 1984. My first appointment was a Pre-Beginner Class and I decided that I should put back something back in to our sport.

What dogs do you own and handle?   

I work a German Shepherd Dog in obedience and hope to soon start competing in working trials.

How do you prepare for an event like Crufts?     

I was asked to judge at Crufts 3 years ago! I started planning for the event about 18 months ago and so started putting my team together then. As a good team is the most important part of making sure everything will go smoothly on the day, which it did, we started practicing the rounds and the steward’s routine in October 2016 and spent many hours perfecting everything.

What is the most challenging aspect of judging an event like Crufts?    

The most challenging aspect of judging at Crufts was to make sure we kept to a time schedule and of course make sure the best team won.

Did anyone in particular stand out in your judging?    

I had some super teams to judge and it was interesting to judge so many different breeds . Three teams really stood out - they were Christine Richardson with her Miniature Schnauzer Harvey, Ruth Martin with her Miniature Poodle, both working the Novice class and Connie Handford and her Working Sheepdog Subi who worked class C were outstanding.

What would be your top 5 tips for someone starting in Obedience?    

My top 5 tips for anyone starting in obedience is:

  • Get a dog that suits your lifestyle.
  • Find a good dog trainer.
  • Enjoy the way you train.
  • Make sure your dog understands what you want from him.
  • If it goes wrong don’t blame your dog.

What did you watch when you were not judging?   

As it was a full on day I didn’t have time to watch any other events.

Anything else you think will be of interest to Obedience enthusiasts and competitors?

My top tip for obedience enthusiasts is find out as much as you can about how shows are run and put yourself forward to help out as you can learn a lot that way.



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