Welcome to Canine Freestyle GB

kennel club logo

effective from 1st January 2007

Heelwork to Music has been recognised by the Kennel Club for over three years.  This exciting new discipline has caught the imagination of many people with new competitors becoming involved every week and more and more shows being organised.  The Kennel Club agreed with HTM experts that it was time to review the regulations. 

A working party was set up in 2005 with help from Heelwork to Music experts and show organisers to review and expand the current regulations.  This working party has met several times over the past year and has gained a lot of useful feedback from competitors.

All of the regulations have been reviewed; some areas have been changed slightly and others completely.  The regulation amendments will come in to force on 1 January 2007, when a separate Heelwork to Music Regulation booklet will be published.  A full list of all the Regulation amendments is listed at the end of this press release, but the major changes are as follows:

1.         Time limits for routines.
A shorter, maximum time limit has been introduced for starters and novice classes, with 2 marks being deducted for an over-run greater than 5%.

2.         Number of routines a show can allow.
Societies may limit the number of routines that can be accommodated.  The number must be specified on the schedule and, if more entries are received, a ballot may take place, for any class except Advanced.

3.         Classes to be split.
Any class that receives more than 20 entries must be split e.g. with an entry of 21 dogs, 1 class will include 10 dogs the other class 11 dogs.  Any class that does not receive an entry of 20 must not be split.

4.         Judges’ criteria.
A minimum judges criteria and approval process has been introduced, which will come into effect on 1 January 2009.  This two year time lapse will ensure societies have enough qualified judges to meet the demand.
5.         Judges' marks.
A standard set of judging marks has been introduced to ensure that competitors and judges know which elements fall into which category.  Additionally a standard practice to decide placings for dogs with equal marks has been developed.  Also the facility to withhold marks if a dog is not of the standard required to progress, has been introduced. 

6.         Heelwork Positions.
A new wider definition of heelwork has been introduced and diagrams are attached to assist the explanations.

7.         Class progression.
A new method of class progression has been introduced, allowing consistent dogs to progress without necessarily winning a class. 

8.         Excellent Qualification.
Once a dog has progressed to the next level, it may have the class title it has progressed from written after its name.  If the points for progression have been gained including a win at that level then the excellent title may also be included: for example HTM St when the dog has won out of Heelwork to Music Starters and HTM St Ex if a win was achieved to do this. 

All the amended Regulations are listed in full here with the amendments or additions underlined:

1.         Regulation L.9.i – Competing 

The duration of the routine should be a maximum length as detailed below.  An over-run of 5% is permitted, but 2 marks will be deducted from the final score for any time taken in excess of this.
Starters maximum time limit  - up to 2 1/2 minutes
Novice maximum time limit - up to 3 1/2 minutes
Intermediate maximum time limit - up to 4 minutes
Advanced maximum time limit - up to 4 minutes

2.         Insert new Regulation: L.9.k – Competing.

The music and routine must be suitable for a family audience and the spectator appeal of the programme should be apparent.

3.         Insert new Regulation L.9.l – Competing

The bearing and deportment should be appropriate to the routine. 

4.         Insert new Regulation L.9.m – Competing

The decision to withdraw from competition is entirely at the discretion of the competitor, however, a competitor may not withdraw once a routine has been completed and scored.
5.         Insert new Regulation L.9.n. – Competing

A dog can not be entered in the same class more than once.
6.         Insert new Regulation L.9.o. – Competing

Once a dog has entered the ring to compete, no further practice may be carried out.
7.         Insert new Regulation L.10.g – Entry for Competition.

No amendment may be made to an entry after the closing date of entries.

8.         Regulation L.11.c.(11) – Contents of schedule

A statement that in estimating the number of awards won, all wins up to and including the seventh day before the closing date of entries shall be counted when entering any class.

9.         Regulation L.11.c(22) – Contents of schedule

The ring size and surface and where the judges will be situated.

10.       Regulation L.11.c(25) – Contents of schedule
Notice of Kennel Club Heelwork to Music Competition Regulations paragraphs: -
            9, 10, 14, 16
11.       Insert Regulation L.12. - Management

a.         If a class entry received exceeds 20, the class shall be equally divided (to within one dog) by a draw.  If the resulting individual class entry, after division, exceeds 20, a further division of the total class entry shall take place so that each equal division of the class is 20 or less.  Classes with an entry of 20 or less must not be split.
b.         If after the closing date of entries, the number of entries exceeds the maximum number stated in the Schedule, a ballot may take place for any class except Advanced, at the Societies discretion. 
c.         All routines must be timed by an official time keeper appointed by the Organising Society who will advise the judges of the duration of each routine.  The routine starts when the music begins and ends when the music finishes.

d.         The results for each class must be displayed on the day and accessible to all competitors.

12.       Insert Regulation L.13  – Judges Approval

a.         Wherever possible as many of the judges on the panel should have competed at and thus have practical experience of the level they are judging.  (With the exception of advanced classes where the judges should fulfil the criteria detailed below).

b.         Societies must be satisfied that the following minimum conditions have been met for all judges for any Heelwork to Music/Freestyle class:
(i)         All judges should have qualified a dog out of starters’ class in either Heelwork to Music or Freestyle classes and have a minimum of one years experience competing at Kennel Club licensed Heelwork to Music Competitions.
(ii)        Judges must demonstrate a good knowledge of the sport and a thorough understanding of the rules of the sport.
(iii)       Or otherwise be approved by the General Committee.

c.         Qualification for judges for Advanced Heelwork to Music and Freestyle Classes
(i)         Judges must demonstrate a good knowledge of the sport and a thorough understanding of Kennel Club Heelwork to Music Regulations L.
(ii)        A minimum of two years experience competing at Kennel Club licensed Heelwork to Music Competitions.
(iii)       A minimum of one years experience of judging at Kennel Club licensed Heelwork to Music Competitions and
(iv)       To have judged a minimum of 15 licensed Heelwork to Music/Freestyle classes and
(v)        To have judged at intermediate level in either discipline.
The above Regulation to apply from 1 January 2009.

Note:   All judges who have been appointed to judge at Kennel Club licensed events prior to 1 January 2009 will retain the right to judge at the level they were previously approved to judge.
Note:   Heelwork to Music handlers may judge Freestyle classes at the level they are approved to judge and vice versa.
            (Insert underlined and renumber accordingly) 

13.       Regulation  L.14 (was L.12) – Judges and Judging

Delete L.14.d, renumber accordingly and insert:

14.       Insert Regulation L.14.h – Judges and Judging

In the event of dogs obtaining equality of marks in Heelwork to Music competitions, the Accuracy and Execution of Movement mark will decide the result.  In a Freestyle Competition, the Musical Interpretation mark will decide the results.

15.       Insert Regulation L.14.i – Judges and Judging

If the average mark in any one section of the judges criteria is below 40%, the class points will be withheld for that routine.  There shall be at least four awards on offer in every class and printed award cards and rosettes may be given but the associated points would be withheld.
16.       Insert Regulation L.14.j. – Judges and Judging

If a dog leaves the ring and ceases working it should be eliminated from the competition but allowed to continue and complete its routine, as long as the music is still playing.  If a dog accidentally steps outside the ring during a routine it will not be penalised.
17.       Insert Regulation L.16 - Judges Marking Criteria

There must be three judges for each class, except in exceptional circumstances, whereby the Society should notify the Kennel Club as soon as possible. Each judge will mark all three sections of the Judging Criteria as follows:
            a.         Programme Content  -  10 marks
(1)       The programme content conforms to the definitions for Heelwork to Music or Freestyle.
(2)       The programme should be varied with no excessive repetition of moves.
(3)       The movements of the dog should have a greater impact than those of the handler.
(4)       Movements should be appropriate to the structure and conformation of the dog.
(5)       Degree of difficulty of movements should be taken into account.

            b.         Accuracy and Execution of Movement  -  10 marks
(1)       Movements are accurately and smoothly executed.
(2)       The accuracy of heel work must be taken into account.
(3)       The bearing and deportment of the handler is appropriate to the routine.
(4)       The dog should work in a natural  and willing manner.

(5)       The dog responds promptly and appropriately to the cues given.
(6)       Handler and dog should work as a team.
(7)       Any props used should be appropriate to the routine.

            c.         Musical Interpretation  -  10 marks
(1)        Interpretation of the music, rhythm and phrasing is apparent.
(2)        The programme flows and is not a series of disjointed movements.
(3)        Movements are complimentary to the programme’s concept.
(4)        Handlers dress is applicable to the programme.
(5)        Emphasis of interpretation is on the dog’s movements although the handler may be expressive.
(6)        Choreography should be apparent and flowing.  The routine should include balance, structure and making best use of available space.
(7)        The harmony and relationship should show the strength of the dog and handler partnership.
(8)        Handler and dog should work as a team.
(9)        Choice of music should suit the team.

d.         In the event of dogs obtaining equal marks in Heelwork to Music competitions, the Accuracy and Execution of Movement mark will decide the result.  In a Freestyle Competition, the Musical Interpretation mark will decide the result.
e.         When assessing a routine the judges should take into account any degree of departure from the Regulations for handlers and dogs.
f.           Where applicable judges should mark to one decimal place.
g.         The dog should work in a willing and natural manner.  Excessive barking must be penalised in the relevant section of the scoring at the judge’s discretion.
18.       Insert Regulation L.23. - Order of Merit When Dogs are Disqualified.
If an award winner is disqualified, the dogs placed by the Judge next in order of merit shall be moved into the next higher place.
19.       Regulation L(A).1.a. – Definition of Heelwork

Heelwork to Music. A dog working in the heel work position, on the left or right hand side of the handler, facing forward or backward, across the front or back of the handler, moving in any direction, at any pace.  The dog’s shoulder should be approximately level with, and reasonably close to the handler’s leg.  All other positions are defined as Freestyle.  A minimum of two thirds of the routine should consist of heel work.       

20.       Regulation L(A)1.b. – Definition of Freestyle

Freestyle.  A Freestyle routine will be the dog working off lead and contain movements in any position.  Heel work as described above is acceptable although such movements must not exceed one third of the routine.
21.       Regulation L(A).2.

In the following definitions of classes all points must be gained in official classes only.
22.       Insert Regulation L(A).3.

The following points will be awarded in all Kennel Club standard classes:
First place -                10 points
Second place -          6 points
Third place -               4 points
Fourth place -            2 points
On entrance to the next level of classes, the points will return to zero.
23.       Regulation L(A).3. – Official Classes.

a.         Starters. For dogs and handlers which have not gained 14 points or more in official starters classes at Kennel Club licensed Heelwork to Music competitions.
b.         Novice. Open to dogs or handlers which have gained 14 points or more in official starters classes at Kennel Club licensed Heelwork to Music competitions.
c.         Intermediate. Open to dogs which have gained 16 points or more in official novice classes at Kennel Club licensed Heelwork to Music competitions.
d.         Advanced. Open to dogs which have gained 20 points or more in official Intermediate classes at Kennel Club licensed Heelwork to Music competitions.

24.       Insert Regulation L(A).5

A dog can not be entered in the same class more than once.
25.       Insert Regulation L(A).8.

Once a dog has progressed to the next class it is entitled to use the previous class award after its name on entry forms and printed in catalogues, only the highest award may be used.  Separate awards should be indicated for Heelwork to Music and Freestyle as follows: HTM St., HTM N., HTM I. for the different classes of Heelwork to Music. FS St., FS N., FS I. For the different classes in Freestyle.  Once a dog has gained 24 points in Advanced classes it will be entitled to have HTM.A or FS.A after its name as appropriate.

26.       Insert Regulation L(A).9.

Excellent Qualifications.  If a first place has been won at a particular level, when the required level of points have been gained the dog will also be awarded an excellent qualification and can use the title “Ex” after its class title, such as: HTM St Ex.  
27.       Insert Regulation L(A).10.

All dogs must be in possession of a Kennel Club Heelwork to Music Record Book detailing the points gained and where each award was gained.


3 August 2006

Press office notes
For further information, please contact:
Kennel Club Press Office
020 7518 1008 / 1020
Visit the Kennel Club website

Website designed & hosted by rescomp.net installed 10/06/05