My First Judging Experience…..
Last weekend I judged my very first USDAA Trial.
Earlier this year I attended a judges clinic (which was one of the most challenging courses I’ve ever taken!!) After 4 long grueling days & multiple exams, I was awarded my Starters & Advanced Judging certificate!
I was lucky enough to be asked by my good friend Mary Ellen Barry to come out to Barto, PA and judge my first event. Because I’m a rookie, I needed to be under the supervision of a more experienced judge. I got JANET GAUNTT as my superviser!!! For those who do not know her, she is one of the most influential people in the USDAA & one of the most respected judges in the business! You can only imagine how nervous I was!!!!
Before departing on my 8 hour drive to Barto, PA – I was seriously considering finding a way to somehow get out of this whole “judging thing”. 2 days prior I had arrived home from Spain where I competed with 2 dogs at the World Agility Open Championships. Although I came home with a heavy suitcase & nothing to complain about – I was extremely sleep deprived, over stressed & jet lagged!!! I was terrified to go and have to judge with my brain functioning at a less then stellar level!!
Of course with the support of my family & wonderful bf (that drove both directions to Barto) I decided to suck it up & give it my best. When I got the hotel, I was greeted with a smile & a little goodie bag to help ease my stress for the weekend. Alaina Axford-Moore was in charge of Judges hospitality – and let me tell you – This girl is AMAZING! I literally felt like a rockstar. So nice!.
On Friday, when I arrived to the trial, I had no idea what to expect. I met with Janet & we went over building courses, trial efficiency etc. I already knew Janet was a genius, but she was such an amazing teacher. She had so many great tips & suggestions for me. I tried to memorize her every word! She has such a great way about her – I couldn’t have had a better mentor for my first time! By the end of the weekend – we were comfortable working with one another & enjoyed lots of laughs. She made me feel very confident & comfortable. Getting a “You did a great job” from her at the end of the weekend was exactly what I needed to get me hooked!
Mary Ellen Barry, George Mariakis, Helen McNenly, Judy Reilly, Tom Kula and so many more people where so helpful all weekend. What a great group of people 🙂 I really had nothing to worry about! haha. After the first couple dogs went, I remembered that I know quite a bit about this sport and I just needed to trust my gut instinct.
Many people have asked if I will be doing more judging now & less handling of the dogs. That answer is a No-Brainer for me….. I would much rather be in the ring with my dog, then judging…. BUT…. I really enjoyed seeing agility from another perspective. I love the creative part of judging & l loved watching the different handlers & dogs run my courses in many different ways.
Hope its not too long before my next judging assignment! Big Thanks to Orchard Hill for the opportunity to get my feet wet & thanks to Janet Gauntt for being… well… Awesome 🙂