Keen to foster the interests of its members, the Canine Alliance staged its first ‘Ask the Experts’ day at the Sky Blue Connexion last Sunday (3rd May 2015).
Around 140 people had booked places in advance (free for members and just £10 for non-members) and whilst there were some absentees, it merely meant that those who did had more opportunity to consult several of the experts who had given up a day of their valuable time.
Experts were available to offer guidance to new (and some not so new) exhibitors. And what a line-up it was! Jason Lynn, Marita Rodgers, Melanie Spavin, Lee Cox, Howard Ogden, Tom Isherwood, Melanie Raymond, Sharon Pinkerton, Phil Freer, Mike Gadsby and, of course, Andrew Brace had kindly agreed to help members with any problems they may have encountered with handling, grooming, conditioning and training. Di Johnson was present to share her vast experience of a lifetime in dogs with anyone who wished to speak to her and Helen Wayman, the newly elected secretary of WELKS, and Marion Sargent of Fosse Data were at hand to answer any questions regarding rules and regulations and show entries.
Four sizeable show rings had been set up with examination tables along with extra consultation tables and there was a large area allocated for crates and grooming tables.
Those present could speak to as many experts as they wished and most took advantage of consulting several over individual problems they were having with particular dogs.
The problems encountered included dogs pacing in the ring, difficulty in getting body condition, lack of enthusiasm when dogs were moving, fidgeting on the stack whilst many who came along merely wanted to hone their handling skills so that they could put on a slicker, sharper performance in the ring.
Oftentimes problems can easily be resolved by using common sense and experience, and many commented on how often things were obvious when they were pointed out to them. Sometimes simply using the lead differently and changing speed on the move can make a world of difference.
The experts were available from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and were kept busy throughout the day. Everyone was given a feedback form and these reflected overwhelming positivity. Some even pointed out that they had previously paid up to £100 for a session with a showing expert, but at this event they had learnt far more and paid nothing.
The day was totally relaxed and informal and many who attended commented on how friendly, helpful and approachable these very successful handlers were with people who had less experience.
Feedback seems to have been very positive from both our feedback document and on social media. Comments from those who included:
“learnt more in 10 minutes, than I have learnt in over 15 years”
“This was a brilliant day and a must-do for anyone who needs to get the best out of their dog and themselves”
“Had a lovely day. All helpful and … given me my confidence back”
“Really good day….can’t thank you enough for organising this”
This was the first event of its kind and already there have been requests to arrange similar days in other areas. Brenda Seaman, Ron Stewart and Maureen Taylor worked hard behind the scenes to ensure the day ran smoothly along with Mel Sharples who helped organise the event but was unable to attend as she was on holiday. Mel will certainly have been following social media coverage of the day with interest.