First of all I want to thank the Austria Kennel Club for hosting the 2nd HTM World Championship. Having a World Championship is a huge step forward for the international cooperation in our sport and we are grateful for the Kennel Clubs’ and FCI’s support.
What a magnificent Championship it was! 38 HTM and 42 Freestyle dog and handler teams were competing and everyone performed so well. Congratulations to the handlers on some stunning performances. The organizers were inexperienced, but they did all in their power to make it a great competition and I think they were successful. A few hiccups – a barrier in the middle of the ring on Saturday morning and very little time for the judges to do their work between performances, but the barrier situation was resolved and all in all we felt that our sport was taken seriously and treated with great respect.
After they left the ring, a few competitors were asked to have their dogs examined by the show vet as one or all the judges had concerns but luckily all dogs were passed as fit, which was great. We thank the handlers for their cooperation and apologize for the inconvenience this caused. Using the show vet to make sure all dogs were fit to compete really is a good thing. If the judges thought the dogs looked a bit stiff, wobbly or unstable in the ring, then maybe the audience did too and by getting the vet involved, we can guarantee that our sport is safe and that the welfare of the dog always come first. We do thank the handlers involved for accepting the judge’s decisions and for being good sports about it.
One dog and handler team was disqualified having a toy in the ring as the judges saw the dog treat the prop as a toy.
Congratulations to Thierry Thomas with Ubac, who won both the Individual Freestyle and HTM title. Thierry performed a new routine in HTM. His music was from the movie ‘The Man with the Iron Mask’ and he did indeed perform most of the routine wearing an iron mask, which would make it hard for him to see his dog and impossible for the dog to read his facial expressions. Nice choreography showing heelwork in all positions, discreet signals and many directions with good changes of pace. Good musical interpretation.
In Freestyle they performed the Gladiator routine, which had already brought them victory at the European Championship and at Crufts. The degree of difficulty in this routine is outstanding. Not only does the dog work independently at a distance and behind the handler’s back – it does perform many different chains/series of moves using the same prop on verbal cue alone. Fantastic! I gave one score of a perfect 10 at this championship and this was for degree of difficult for this team.
I also have to mention Vanda Gregorova from the Czech Republic. She competed with two dogs and three routines, she qualified three routines for the individual final and was placed in top 3 with all three routines + she was on Team CZ that won the Team World Championship! WOW! Especially her Individual silver winning Freestyle routine with her little Chihuahua Enrisa Orlen (Roxie) impressed me. Roxie was very accurate, the routine involved some brilliant, innovative moves and the routine had good musical interpretation. Well done.
Another innovative routine was the Finnish competitor Katja Tamminen with Nevada’s silver winning HTM routine. What a fabulous choreography that was – it involved a change of costume and style of music half way through. The dog worked so well – 2 very accurate performances. The entire Finnish HTM team did really well and they won the Team World Championship.
Marina Novoselova from Russia performed a very, very accurate routine with her lovely brown Newfoundland. I had to mark it down for difficulty. Compared to the top winning teams, she did just not have enough content, but a lovely routine which showed the beautiful dog at its best. I really enjoyed watching it. Great show quality.
Two Freestyle routines that I really enjoyed, but which did not qualify for the individual final was Luc Daem’s (Belgium) moving freestyle routine and Polina I’lina’s (Russia) high speed, action packed interpretation of Barbie Girl. Both great routines that had it all: accuracy, content and musical interpretation. I also loved the little Danish dachshund Jette Hastrup’s Addi. Lovely chess themed routine to ‘One Night in Bankok’.
It was wonderful to see so many keen and well motivated dogs, which all seemed to cope with the busy and stressful show atmosphere. It proves that they have a wonderful relationship with their handlers and really trust them. I was also pleased to see that most handlers seemed to enjoy their time in the ring and to remember that it is all about the dogs.
Esther Niemeijer from Holland performed in both HTM and Freestyle with both of her dogs. She did not qualify for the final, but she smiled her way through the competition and had a friendly word ready for anyone who passed her way. If I had a prize to give for good sportsmanship and fair play, it would go to her.
Thank you to all the competitors and supporters for a super World Championship. I hope to see you all again and maybe some of your mix breeds too in Prague for the Open European Championship.
Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone competing.
By Emmy Marie Simonsen
Photos by Svetlana Astashina, ASTA Foto