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Thursday, 14 November 2019

Jr Handling Estonia

Featured Written by Ante Lucin writes...

On November 14th the Estonian Youth Assembly organized their annual Junior Handling Championship in their capital city, Tallinn. 

The competition was organized in a nice hall which is a part of their biggest pet shop and was very impressively decorated, with the podiums for the winners and the chairs for the parents and supporters of the competitors. For some years already the organizers always invite professional handlers to judge their Championship and this year it was my turn to choose the best six with the winner being sent with all the expenses paid to represent the country next year at Crufts.

As someone who has travelled the world showing dogs it was a very exciting trip for me as Estonia is one of the very few European countries which I have never visited before.

Well, I passed through the country when driving to Helsinki and Riga many years ago, but I have never been there for a dog show and there were a few Estonian people I knew from before. Later on, during the talks with my new friends, I remembered that the Dalmatian I showed some years ago, who was 3rd in the group at Crufts and won the group at the World dog show in Denmark, was Estonian bred and owned

Difficult job

There were 18 juniors competing, all in one age group and they have all previously qualified for the event by gaining points during the year while competing at the Estonian shows. That meant that they were all experienced and had some good results behind them which made my job very difficult but also very exciting. I have a huge passion for junior handling as I really feel in these difficult days for the sport, only the talented and intelligent junior handlers can help create for us a good image and secure a bright future. This is why, whenever I am invited to judge it, I take it extremely seriously.

As a friend of many junior handlers I know how important this is for them and how exciting for any of them it is to represent their own country at Crufts. I had to give gradings to each junior handler individually and they could get an excellent, very good, good or sufficient from me for individual movement, movement in the group, setting up the dog, showing the bite, contact and co-operation with the dog and knowledge and ability to show the breed. At the end I had to give them also a mark for the overall appearance.

Juniors who know me from my previous judging appointments and the ones who have informed themselves about my ways of judging knew very well that my first cut will be done mostly on their contact with the dog. Only a happy junior with a happy dog can do well under me. I don’t look for perfect handling, I don’t ask anything except the normal ring procedure and I never change my position or go around them.

I also don’t ask them to change the hands all the time. I only want them to enjoy what they are doing and that they encourage the dog to be itself and give the best for them. When I finished the first round it was easy to get six finalists as to seven I gave excellent for the overall appearance and I knew those were the ones who will be interesting for me.

I must say there was no one who did a bad job. But as a professional handler I know exactly what I want to see and sometimes there were little things that bothered me and helped me decide on my final placing. I was so proud that to all 18 qualified junior handlers I was able to give an excellent for the contact with a dog. That made me very happy.


After choosing the six finalists they picked up the numbers of another competitor with which they would change the dogs. The organizers asked for a half an hour break to train with the new dogs but I asked them not to give them any time for that. Instead I wanted them all back in immediately to see how they will work with the new dogs and how they will in a short time make the contact with them without having time to ask the tips from their colleagues who previously showed that dog.

This is where the talent is, in my opinion, as those new dogs can sometimes be unfortunate for some junior handlers if they get a difficult dog or very fortunate if they get a well-trained dog of the similar breed or size as they had originally, I asked them once again to change the dogs but with the dogs I chose for them. After that I was perfectly clear how I wanted to place my six finalists. I placed them in order of my placement and sent them once again around and the support that they got from the crowd was absolutely magical. They didn’t stop cheering and applauding for the winners since they started the last round till we finished the photos. And the support and a good sportsmanship between the competitors were just amazing


The organizers prepared many beautiful trophies and useable gifts for all the winners and I brought with me a beautiful handmade rosette for my winner. When we finished with the photos I told them I was very impressed with the quality, only pointed out that many of them showed long coated breeds and didn’t have a brush or comb with them and then some have been showing the dogs all the time in free stack which made sometimes more difficult to go over the dogs. After judging junior handling so many times all around the world this was only the second time ever that my winner was a boy.

His name is Sergei Pustovalov, he is soon to be 18 and I had a chance to meet with him a day after when I finished my seminar for junior handlers and he is a not only talented, but also very passionate and intelligent young man. The 2nd place went to another very talented young boy, Maksim Sedoi, who will for sure also do very well for Estonia in the future. The other four placed were girls, so well educated and talented, it was really the small details that decided at the end.

Estonia was a great experience for me, I enjoyed my trip tremendously and the city of Tallinn is just gorgeous. I would like to thank to the Estonian Youth Assembly for the job very well done, for their kindness and hospitality and to the Estonian Kennel Club for being so supportive to them. To all of you, specially to the main organizers, Pilvi Pihlik and Aleksei Smetanin and their team, my sincere congratulations. 

Keep up your good work; you can be an example to many countries.

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Read 1169 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 January 2020
More in this category: « Tallinn Winter Cup, Estonia

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