Health and safety in HTM

And the moves, how much do we really know as judges about what is harmful and what is lameness?

We’ve been attending a series of lectures by the “physio vet”, David Prydie, in Crewe recently. Very informative from someone who specialises in sports injuries in dogs. He had assessed one of our young collies at club with an injury but also spotted immediately that a higher back end than front caused the dog to hop, skip, hitch, whatever you like to call it, particularly when changing direction, gait or speed. Trotting is helping to minimise this hopping because the back feet no longer touch the front, but if that “hop” is seen in a routine will it be classed as lameness? And what is the definition of lameness, is it a sign of pain or injury? In which case this “hopping” cannot be lameness as there is no pain associated with it, merely poor conformation.

The series of monthly lectures we are attending cover a different section of the canine body each session and are fascinating. (some of the technical medical information a little much for my poor brain cell!) but I am learning and having confirmed many things. Warming up and cooling down exercises, stretching exercises, body awareness training and the fact that so many of our HTM moves are so very beneficial to our dogs physical health, presuming they are fit to start with. We are incorporating many of these simple exercises into our general training for both adult dogs and puppies, for experienced agility and HTM dogs and for pets. Some of it is common sense and we have always been concerned about dogs health but being specifically made aware of the benefits by someone who has studied these things in depth I am finding invaluable.

If you watch agility dogs waiting in the line for their runs many are now doing HTM moves to keep their muscles warmed up.

Some of the moves I have been wary of in the past are perhaps more beneficial to our dogs than I had realised presuming that the proper fitness levels are maintained, the dogs are the right age and correctly warmed up. And I am not advocating that we do backwards flips and cartwheels, handlers or dogs!  Just looking at what each individual dog is comfortable doing.

I do agree that some moves do not look dignified for our dogs and some moves cannot be comfortably achieved by some dogs. But as a judge when do we make a decision that a dog should be eliminated?

Maggie Backhouse

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