Introduction by John Thomspon
Periodically I would like to introduce articles to The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Forum.
The first series of articles are titled ASHSTOCK ANNOTATIONS.
The articles were written by Championship Show Judge Mr. Alec Waters of Great Britain.
I have found Ms. Rita Smith and Mr. Alec Waters to be two of the finest people in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Both Rita and Alec are U.K. judges approved to award Challenge Certificates.
The first Ashstock Champion came along some 27 years ago:
CH. ASHSTOCK ARTFUL BESS
And then followed more great Ashstock dogs:
CH. ASHSTOCK BLACK MARIA
CH. ASHSTOCK BRINCHESTER
CH. ASHSTOCK MAX THE MILLER
CH. ASHSTOCK RED BUTTONS
CH. ASHSTOCK LUCKY JIM
Alec and Rita currently show Ashstock Crown Court and are continuing their success.
I have received permission from Mr. Waters and others - in regards to submitting their work to the forum.
I have chosen to submit these articles with the hopes of adding to the knowledge of all Stafford people. We can all learn from such articles.
By ALEC WATERS
The Behavior of (Some) Exhibitors
There can be no doubt that all competitions between members of the human race brings out the very worst in them, whether it be dahlias, leeks, rabbits, canaries, vegetables and dogs, etc., etc. As soon as their exhibit is pitted against another exhibit the fur can really fly. I'm sure that most people have seen the bad tempered behavior, prize cards torn up, flung onto the floor, even refused, when the unfortunate ring steward is presenting the prize cards. Then we constantly hear the verbal assignations of judges such as he/she is a crook, fool, etc. and I am certain all judges have suffered these remarks at one time or another. Over the many years of exhibiting I have seen exhibitors storming out of the ring muttering colorful and interesting descriptions of the judges abilities and sometimes his integrity, and occasionally even questioning the judges parents marital status. In certain breeds, not ours thank god! People snip bits of coat from the vital places from other exhibitors dogs, even occasionally sticking pills or drugs into the dogs of rival competitors. Now our innocent reader may be forgiven from thinking that this unreasonable and extraordinary behavior is a fairly modern phenomenon in our dog world and the good old days it was probably a matter of "after you Claude, no after you Cecil", or thank you Mr. Judge for my V.H.C., I think that the first dogs are so superior to my dog (!!). How wrong you would be thinking that this was the case. Right from the earliest organized dog show that awarded prize cards, prize money or whatever, the competition and attitude could be just as fierce and unpleasant as anything one may see today. The unfortunate judges suffered abuse, and anger from disappointed exhibitors and had to look out for fakers over one hundred years ago. Surprised then read on. The following five excerpts are taken for the Fox Terriers Chronicles published in the 1800's.
Excerpt one written by a judge in the late 1800's, advising novice judges. The best four or five will be easily found, but the rest will be nearly the hardest part of the task undertaken. Having sent out half a dozen of the best to wait a little, the best plan is to station ones's self near the entrance to the ring and to set the class moving again, after one or two rounds the worst six or seven-the exact number of those out for the final of course, depends largely upon the strength of the class, and the number of prizes offered; the exact proportion being a point which we must leave to the judge's discrimination - will be easily distinguished, collect these in a group and quietly say "take your lot away please". This is a most embarrassing moment, the looks a chagrin, anger, disappointment, and disgust upon the countenances of the exhibitors owning those particular dogs do more to unman and disturb the equanimity of a novice judge than anything we know. This then is the reason why we advise that the mediocrities be collected in a group at one end of the ring, and dismissed together.
Excerpt two, more advice from a judge, written in the 1800's. "When the steward bestows the prize cards to the best dogs, it is always advisable to move to a far corner of the ring to avoid the curses of those unfortunate, but ill-tempered exhibitors who are dissatisfied at their position in the group of prize winners".
Excerpt three, observations of a judge 1885. "Sometimes a judge may observe that the prize cards bestowed upon a lower placed exhibit may be seen lying on the floor of the ring, or I have seen these prize cards flung back at the unfortunate steward".
Excerpt four, a judge advising about exhibitors faking or cheating, 1888. "There are, without doubt, dogs on the bench today that are winning prizes, that have had their ears faked, either 'dropped' or 'pared'. Unfortunately for the professional 'faker' (cheat) nature has ordained that without the greatest care, and then only in a very few cases, every sever cut, when it heals shall form a cicatrix (sear of a healed wound) and it is for this cicatrix that our judge must feel or look for."
Excerpt five, a judge reminiscing about the angry revengeful exhibitor 1881. "I have heard of judges who have suffered the most severest and sharpest pains in the lower parts of the body, due it is said by the deliberate use of a bodkin thrust into a crudely shaped clay model of a particular judge by a disappointed and disgusted exhibitor."
So apart from the common doetoring of dogs' ears of those timers, little has changed except that the good old darning needle have made the old-fashioned bodkin redundant. We still hear the curses, the muttering of the disappointed, the questioning of the judges parentage.
So those few who behave so badly when suffering the disappointment of being cardless, or receiving the V.H.C. remember that you are carrying on a very old tradition of bad behavior well over one hundred years! But I do not really believe that Staffordshire Bull Terrier folk would behave in such a manner!!
Having said all this, it is quite extraordinary to learn from several people that there are a number of championship show judges who it is alleged, freely and openly admit that they do not take movement into consideration when judging the breed. When I first heard of this I found it difficult to believe but other people have later confirmed this unhappy situation.
If these allegations are true then the first question springs to mind, what are the motives or reason behind this, to what I consider to be gross irresponsibility, and the abuse of trust given to them by the exhibitors, who pay a lot of money in entries, petrol etc. for the privilege of exhibiting their stock under them.
Do these judges really understand the movement clause or do they have difficulty in its interpretation. If this is the case, then there must be a very good case for some sort of education, i.e. judges course, in spite of views of people writing in the East Midlands newsletter that such courses were unnecessary. Another possible reason occurs to me which is far more disturbing, is it, perhaps they are perfectly aware of the movement clause and understand it well, but then arrogance and self importance has overtaken their first responsibilities to the breed, abusing the trust placed in them by the exhibitors and of course the K.C.
What if all championship show judges behaved in this manner? Maybe unsound specimens have won high awards from time to time but if this became common practice, in a short space of time all soundness would virtually disappear from our breed. I do not know the answer to the problem but I can suggest to exhibitors that if they know who these judges are, they give these incompetents a wide birth because continual low entries are a fairly good way of removing incompetent judges from the judging circuits making them an unattractive proposition for society and club shows. I would add that to watch a good clean moving Stafford in the ring is a joy to any appreciative judge of our breed.
Mr. Alec Waters - Ashstock Staffordshire Bull Terriers