Team GB Wins European Heelwork to Music Championships

The Company of Animals were very excited to be sponsoring the GB Heel Work to Music Team in 2017. 

The team have just attended the European Championships in Belgium and won both team events! 

It was a very busy schedule for the team over three days: 

  • Team Heelwork To Music Friday 25 August 
  • Team Freestyle 26 August 
  • Individual Championships 27 August  

How did the competitions work? 
Each international team was made up of 4 dog/handler teams and the top three scores from each team were added together to calculate the winning team for the Team HTM and the Team Freestyle events.

Team GB won both categories so a fabulous result!

The top ten scoring individuals from Friday and Saturday events then went forward to repeat their routines again and the medal winners were calculated by combining both their team and individual performances. Team GB got five top ten placements in the individual events, including second in the individual freestyle with Lucy Creek and Skiffle

Meet the amazing GB team below with all their lovely dogs !

Kath Hardman and Denby

Team Captain

What do you love about HTM?

I love the way it creates a great relationship between dog and handler. Also my love of music, creativity and training my dogs all adds to a perfect day!

How long have you been involved in HTM competing?

I started competing in 1999 with my first “dancing Dog” Ginnie.

How often do you train?

I try to train every day!

What other championships have you taken part in?

I have competed at Crufts every year since 2005. I have also been on UK medal winning teams and won individual gold medals at previous World and European HTM Championships.

How will GB Team compare to other teams competing in the championship this year ?

Other countries are growing in experience and creativity all the time. However GB are a very strong team this year!

What does Denby love about HTM?

He loves the sport as I can include all moves he naturally loves doing. We never get bored!

Is it a challenge at times to keep Denby focused?

No, because of the approach I take with training, focus is one of the first essentials.

What is Denby’s favourite HTM move?

Denby loves jumping – arms, me, cane, Body Pops! He’s a huge jumper!!

What is Denby’s favourite reward treat?

Playing ball

What is Denby like at home?

Denby loves to lie on the decking keeping guard from the many wild rabbits we seem to attract!

What is Denby’s most cheeky habit?

Getting in a sneaky lick when you least expect it!

What does Denby like to have with him when he is competing?

I will be taking his favourite tuggy ball, however I do mix his toys so they never become boring.

Lucy Creek with Teasel & Skiffle

Team Captain

How did you get involved?

About 12yrs ago with my oldest dog. I had never heard of heelwork to music before then, and I instantly fell in love.

What do you love about HTM?

I love writing routines that fit my dogs individually. Each dog has their favourite tricks and moves!

How long have you been involved in HTM competing?

I really started competing properly with Teasel about 9 years ago 

How often do you train individually and as part of a team?

I tend to do five minutes with all my dogs in the morning. If we are coming up to a competition we’ll do a couple of longer training sessions during the week.

What other championships have you taken part in?

Teasel and I have been made it to the Crufts freestyle final 5 times. Skiffle has also been at the Crufts Heelwork to Music final 5 times and has won it once. He has been in the freestyle final three times and has won it three times! He has also won at international level once. 

How do you think your dogs will perform under championship pressure?

The dogs are usually fine at big competitions, it’s usually me that gets nervous and makes mistakes!

What do Teasle and Skiffle love about HTM and competing?

Both my dogs love their one-on-one attention time. Skiffle also loves music and will often tag a toy happily if he hears a song he likes on the radio!

What are their favourite HTM moves?

The trick Skiffle always wants to offer is touching his paw on an object or person. Teasel has two tricks either a beg or a paw over face.

What are their favourite reward treats?

Skiffle's is a small rubber ball on rope. Teasel's is homemade tuna cake.

What are they like at home?

Teasel is in charge of the household and keeps all the others in line. Skiffle (despite being male) is a real mummy and checks the others over every morning and licks their eyes and faces clean.  

What are their most cheeky habits?

Teasel likes to steal a small teddy that sits on our bed. She sneaks upstairs and takes it to her own bed. Skiffle is too much of a goody two shoes to be cheeky. Sneaking off for cuddles with random strangers or taking his ball to them to try and get them to play, is about as cheeky as he gets!

What do they like to have with them when they are competing?

Teasel has a small multicoloured cushion. Skiffle has a little border collie toy he likes to carry around.  

Lucy Heath and Indie

What is Heelwork to Music?

Heelwork to Music is a competitive activity in which participants create routines set to music with their dogs.  It is divided into two categories, Heelwork to Music and Freestyle.

How can people get involved or find out more about Heelwork to Music?

You can find out more on the Kennel Club website or join a dog training club which offers Heelwork to Music classes, such as the Company of Animals, Animal Behaviour Centre in Chertsey.

How did you get involved ?

When I was a child, I would go to Crufts and see Mary Ray perform her Heelwork to Music routines before Best in Show and I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life.  So with my first dog, Ash, I immediately started training him with the help of Mary Ray's "Dancing with Dogs" book and YouTube trick tutorials.  I immersed myself in every aspect of dog training and joined in with my local club's demonstration team.  One day in 2010, my trainer Lorraine Rohland printed off an entry form for a competition and forced me to bite the bullet and enter!

What do you love about HTM ?

I love the creativity.  You can build a routine that suits and is safe for your dog. I also love that until you introduce props into your routine, no equipment is required for training so you can have fun practising anywhere!

What has been your favourite HTM competition moment to date ?

The absolute best moment in my HTM career was taking 3rd place in the Heelwork to Music final at Crufts 2016, behind my team mates Lucy Creek and Caroline Garrett.

What other championships/competitions have you taken part in?

I have qualified for the Crufts finals 4 times, the semi finals 9 times, won ITV's That Dog Can Dance with Indie, won Crufts Factor with Indie, made it to the final of Britain's Got Talent with Trip Hazard.  I have two dogs qualified to compete in advance now, and both of them have got their qualifiers for the Crufts 2018 semi finals.

How proud do you feel to have been selected for the HTM GB Team?

The pride I feel is indescribable.  I used to watch and admire some of the team members before I had ever stepped foot in a competition ring myself, so to be representing Great Britain alongside them is like a dream!

What is your key piece of Company of Animals kit that you use in HTM training?

Definitely the treat bag and clicker!  Also, if I am training a younger dog, the Halti lead is excellent as you can make it longer and give yourself more room to practice training whilst your dog is on lead.

What does Indie love about HTM?

Indie loves everything about HTM, sometimes a little too much!  She loves the one to one attention and interaction with me, the yummy treats, playing with toys and keeping her "Collie brain" busy and her body active! 

Is it a challenge at times to keep her focused?

When Indie was younger, I struggled hugely with her focus (occasionally to the point of leaving puppy class in tears).  Now she absolutely lives to "work" and be on the go.

What is Indie’s favourite HTM move?

Indie's favourite moves would be anything to do with hiding her face.  She knows people think it's really cute so it gets her lots of attention! 

What is Indie’s favourite reward treat?

Indie isn't too fussy with her food, but she does seem to particularly enjoy some Babybel cheese!

What is she like at home, as part of the family?

At home, Indie is the easiest dog to live with.  She is calm and quiet, but if you ask her to do something, she shoots up and does it with gusto, then goes straight back to relaxing.

What is Indie’s most cheeky habit?

Indie doesn't really have many cheeky habits but if she gets hold of a squeaky toy just make it squeak constantly until you eventually can't take it any more and hide it somewhere! 

Caroline Garrett and Fawkes

How did you get involved with HTM?

I got involved in HTM with my whippet Rose. An illness meant that her physical activity had to be restricted but as an intelligent dog she needed something to occupy her mind. We both enjoyed learning new things which, progressed to joining a HTM class and competitions.

What do you love about HTM?

I enjoy the creative aspects of HTM. I love building a routine; finding the right music, the choreography, teaching and learning new moves and putting the finishing touches of an outfit to a performance to make it unique. I like the variety.

How long have you competed in HTM?

I have competed on and off for about 6 years.

What competitions have you taken part in?

Fawkes and I have competed in the Crufts Heelwork to Music finals on three occasions. We got second in 2015. Winning Crufts in 2016 and 2017 were very special moments!

Fawkes will perform under championship and time pressure?

Fawkes will be excited by the occasion as he always is but he enjoys the big events and I have no doubt that he will give his all.

What does Fawkes love about HTM?

The mental stimulation and one-to-one time

Is it a challenge at times to keep them focused?

No, Fawkes loves his work!

What is Fawkes’s favourite HTM move?

Paw across the face

What is Fawkes favourite reward treat?

His favourite toy is a squeaky fish given to him by Fish4Dogs after each of our Crufts wins

What is Fawkes like at home?

Fawkes is well behaved in the house and he follows me around like a shadow!

What is Fawkes’s most cheeky habit?

Herding his best buddy, Rose when she wants to play with other dogs

What does Fawkes like to have with him when he is competing?

As long as Fawkes has me around he is content. He is more settled with Rose there too.

Karen Sykes and Midge

How did you get involved?

I had been competing in Obedience, Agility and Working Trials. The 2001 Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak meant I had to look for alternative sports and I heard about Heelwork to Music. I entered my first competition that same year with my dog Kes and was thrilled when we won first place.

What do you love about HTM?

HTM combines many of the things that I love - dogs, dance and music. I also love the freedom of imagination that the sport gives you regarding the moves that you can invent and teach to your dogs.

How often do you train?

I do some kind of training everyday. Once a month I meet with a group for training with Jo Hill, which is both a great learning exepience and a good laugh!

What other championships/competitions have you taken part in?

I have competed at Crufts 17 and won Crufts HTM in 2008 and was runner up in 2013. I also judge and do HTM training seminars around the world. In 2011 I the won the Individual and Team Gold at the European Championships.

How do you think Midge will perform under championship pressure?

Midge will be fine provided I do my bit. She is smart and willing; she always does her best although her sense of humour can be a little disconcerting at times!

What does Midge love about HTM?

The fun, rewards and making me laugh!

Is it a challenge at times to keep them focused?

Midge is always focussed when we are working together; the challenge is to prevent her performing a 4 minute routine in 2 minutes. She always wants to do everything faster!

What is Midge’s favourite HTM move?

Standing on my back

What is Midge’s favourite reward treat?

Her teddy – it gets horribly soggy and has to be dried and repaired with needle and thread after each session.

What is Midge like at home?

Very relaxed, she is no trouble at all. She loves playing with her housemate, a crossbreed called Erin.

What is Midge’s most cheeky habit?

Sneaking up behind you in the kitchen & laying down so that you fall over her when you turn round

What does Midge like to have with her when competing?

She loves being in the car and travelling anywhere.

Kim Lyddon and Tyler

How did you get involved with HTM?

I started Heelwork to Music at a club I attended to do obedience training. We tried a session and Tyler and I were hooked!

What do you love about HTM?

Tyler and I compete in HTM Freestyle. Our training sessions are fun for both of us as he learns new moves and sequences. I relish the creative challenge and it’s great spending time with Tyler doing what he loves

How long have you been involved in HTM competing?

I have been competing with Tyler for about 6 years now. Tyler is the first dog I trained and competed with in this sport. Now I also compete with Archie, my 5-year old Pyrenean Sheepdog in Advanced classes.

How often do you train?

My training schedule with Tyler varies depending upon where we are in the development of the routine and also in the run up to shows. I aim to train at least 3-4 times a week where possible. The day before a show is a rest day for my dogs.

What other championships/competitions have you taken part in?

Tyler and I have taken part in the last three Crufts HTM Freestyle Finals where we came runner up. This will be my first time competing at the European Championships.

How do you think Tyler will perform under championship pressure?

Tyler loves going into the ring and is always keen to perform. I need to ensure I control my nerves!, so I am in a position to give him the clear cues and the direction he needs to perform.

What does Tyler love about HTM?

Tyler loves training and performing, he just lights up! As he learns new moves his confidence grows and he finds doing the sport exciting.

Is it a challenge at times to keep Tyler focused?

With experience and using a reward-based approach to our training Tyler has become very focused and grown in confidence, with his speed of learning increasing.

What is Tyler’s favourite HTM move?

He likes a lot of his moves however if I had to pick a favourite it would be reversing around me. It took a while to train however once learnt it the more he loved it.

What is Tyler’s favourite reward treat?

Tyler seems to like all the different types of treats and toys I give him however he does love his sausages!

What is Tyler like at home?

Tyler is a joy to live with. He is a great companion as well as training partner.

What is Tyler’s most cheeky habit? 

Something Tyler has learnt to do successfully is get a toy off of one of my other dogs without them realising that's what he is doing. For example if he wants a toy Archie has he picks up a different toy and plays with it. Archie then drops his toy to go and investigate what Tyler is playing with. Tyler drops it and as Archie picks if up he runs to get the one Archie originally had. Success!!

What does Tyler like to have with him when he is competing?

Tyler loves playing ball. So we always have a soft ball as well as his favourite football for him to play with when we are away.