Road and Carriage Dog Judges

Julie competing with her spotty ponies

Julie Allen (Nationals Carriage 2006; Carriage 2005)

Julie first appointment as a Trials judge was in 2005, after many years of owning and driving British Spotted Ponies. Julie's love of spotted ponies blossomed after she acquired her first - a 34” stallion that she broke to drive - and she has since owned as many as 52 spotted ponies at once.

She has been Secretary and Registrar of both the British Spotted Pony Society and the Scurry Driving Association. She is presently a Trustee of the Sanders Watney Trust, The British Driving Society’s charity to assist disabled people in the driving of horses, ponies and donkeys. Whilst competing with a tandem of British Spotted ponies in the Concourse d’Elegance at Burghley on the Hill, she was approached by a Dalmatian breeder who enquired whether she would like a Dalmatian to run behind her carriage. She was just starting to scurry with a pair of spotted ponies, so when she visited the breeder she was immediately drawn to a pair of ‘mirror image’ sisters: “Port” and “Starboard”.

Michele judging in 2006 - on a pony kindly loaned by Lady Kelvedon.

Michele Boys (Nationals Road 2006; Road 2005)

After stewarding at two Trials, Michele started judging the trials in 2005. Michele is a professional dog trainer, and is qualified with the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers gaining 1st degree hons. She formed her training club the “Canine Crusaders” in 1995 and currently has five Dalmatians training under her, all of which Michele assures us, participate with great enthusiasm! She also runs two motivational weekends each year and handlers come from far afield and locally to take part. Michele currrently has four dogs successful in the obedience ring, one of which was Obedience Dog of the Year in 1998.

Michele is also an experienced equestrian. She has worked with bloodstock, both in racing and at stud, and with Arabs, learning to drive one of her own. She has also shown hunters, during which time her highlight was an appearance on “The Horse of the Year Show”. And she has travelled with horses all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand Singapore and America , handling one horse valued at £8 million!

Vicky competes on her Andalucian Alice with her dog Robyn in 2004.

Vicky Brennan (Nationals Road 2008)

Vicky has ridden since she was a child and has ridden all sorts of horses in the absence of horsey parents and a horse of her own. In adulthood she acquired rescue dogs and saw exercising them with the horses as a natural thing to do. When the children came along, she felt the need for dogs of a more reliable temperament and with the requirement to follow the horses, her first venture into ‘proper’ dogs came with the arrival of Harley, a Dalmatian pup, in 1994. He was such a success that Desmo (Harlequin of Halsway) followed six months later.

Vicky trained them round the field and then rode out across Salisbury Plain when they were old enough. Being good looking chaps she went into showing and qualified them both for Crufts as puppies. She was thrilled to win a first at Crufts with Desmo.

Training animals is a serious interest of Vicky's. Her horses were by then competing in three day eventing and, as a qualified and practiced agility judge, she decided to train the Dalmatians to do agility. They were very successful and got a lot of attention (Dalmatians are not numerous in agility) and it seemed to Vicky that proving the Dalmatian’s ability was essential to her involvement in the breed.

Vicky was, of course, thrilled when the Carriage Dog Trials became a reality and even more delighted to win the first trial with Desmo (thanks to Alison for the loan of her wonderful pony Danny) and she has supported the trials ever since. As well as competing, Vicky has stewarded at the UK nationals in the obedience field and travelled to the U.S.A. to act as chief steward at the National Road Dog Trials. Vicky sees this sort of event as critical to the continuation of everything that she has set out to achieve with her own Dalmatians over the years.

Alison (background) judging on Danny at the Scottish Trials 2006
Alison judging again on Danny at the 2011 Nationals

Alison Burgess (Scotland 2006; Ireland 2010; Nationals Road 2011)

After founding and competing in the UK national trials, Alison went on to judge at the first regional trials in Scotland in 2006. Horses and dog have been a large part of Alison’s life since she was ten years old. Alison attends dog training classes and her dogs have been involved in demonstrations including at the very busy CLA game fair. She has qualified two dogs as road and carriage dogs up to silver and gold level respectively, being one of the first people to compete and succeed in a gold class. She was honoured to help run the first Swedish event and to judge at Scotland’s inaugural trials. She also tries to attend American trials whenever possible.

Alison is a qualified riding instructor and has headed up several equestrian committees running events. She has been the local TROT agent (charity committed to providing off road riding and driving) for about 15 years and set up the first TROT route solely for carriage drivers. She has a strong commitment to safety and with the training she has received, has implemented the CDT health and safety policy and conducted risk assessments for each trials.

Joy working her dog with her carriage - many years ago!

Joy Claxton (Nationals Carriage 2003; Carriage 2004)

Joy Claxton a British Driving Society Judge and examiner and a life long owner of working carriage dogs. Joy is a co-author and illustrator of two carriage-driving books and an accomplished equestrian artist. Much of her work features carriage driving and her beloved Dalmatians. Joy has been fascinated with carriage dogs since childhood when she remembers seeing a Dalmatian running under a gig.

As an adult Joy worked with carriage horses and was able to own and train a dog for axle work. Three of Joy’s dogs have distinguished themselves working in shows, demonstrations and film work as well as day to day exercise from home. Two of them were problem rescue dogs that Joy took in.

Joy has been instrumental in drawing up the regulations for the carriage dog trials and has given enthusiastic support and advice throughout.

Joy has just published a new book. This time a book of illustrated children's tales about ponies and their different lives called Tales told to Greta. The book may be purchased direct from Trafford Publishing

Make the Most of Carriage Driving by Joy Claxton

Rebecca judging at the Nationals in 2009

Rebecca Croft (Nationals Road 2009) Rebecca has have been involved in Dalmatians since 1995 and is a Dog Trainer and Behaviourist by occupation, currently having three Dalmatians and a Miniature Jack Russel that live at home her. She co-owns a further four Dalmatians with Donna Beaumont under the Koroyza Affix.

Rebecca’s passion for Dalmatians started with Konavlje Spot Boris who was the breed's Top Stud Dog 2004, 2005 and second in 2006. As well as showing Rebecca has always been an active advocate to promote the many other disciplines that our lovely breed is more than capable of. She has competed in Open Obedience and Agility Competitions with Konavlje Spot Boris and Konavlje Carpe Diem via Koroyza gaining very respectable places amongst the Border Collies, preformed a Heelwork to Music display for our Dalmatians Welfare Day with Konavlje Carpe Diem via Koroyza and last but not least trained both Konavlje Carpe Diem via Koroyza (without any training horseback) and Dalesbred Dominica via Koroyza (in 6 sessions) to gain their Road Dog Bronze titles.

It was through the Carriage Dog Trials that Rebecca is now a horse owner again owning her first spotty horse!! Hendawle Harry (Troy) is a Blanket Spotted Appaloosa who Rebecca is also in training with to make his debut this year into Dressage Competition.

Rebecca feels very honoured to be asked to judge at the British Carriage Dog National Trials and is looking forward to the day immensely; she hopes that you will all enjoy your day.

Anne judges on her Percheron Nobel at the South East Trials 2009.

Anne Dickens (South East 2009; Nationals Carriage 2010)

Anne stewarded at the first trials in 2003 and has competed in every Trials since. She has participated as a Road Dog competitor (before she owned her own horses, so was supported by people kind enough to loan her theirs to enable her to compete - for which she is eternally grateful). She took up driving in 2007 to be able to compete in the Carriage Dog classes with her dogs Munin and Fenris. She has been a groom handler with a volunteer driver when she took a Carriage Coaching Certificate in 2005 and has driven for friends as groom handlers to enable their dogs to qualify. Anne has organised a number of displays of working carriage dogs and continues to attend local shows where she persuades the organisers to let her have the dogs in attendance. She tried hard to find someone else to judge the South East Trials - but everyone felt it was time she stopped having so much fun and knuckled down to a bit of work! She has served on the BCDS Committee and works on promoting the Society and its aims. Her ambition as at 2009 is to ride her own horse at a future Trials to qualify her dog Fenris as a Road Dog.

Kelly on Jonas judging at the first Yorkshire trials in 2007.

Kelly Evans (Yorkshire 2007; 2009; Wessex 2016)

Kelly was born into a very animal orientated family; her parents were already becoming well known Dalmatian breeders by the time Kelly was born. She states "Dalmatians acquired me, I did now acquire Dalmatians!" Kelly first started showing at five years old and at 11 owned her first Dalmatian Champion (Ch. Dixie of Tyrodal). She was also the first Dalmatian Kelly started to train with her horses. Kelly was over the moon when she heard there was a competition and society was to start up to promote a sport that she had been enjoying as a hobby with her Dalmatians for many years. As a family at Tyrodal the precedence has been that Dalmatians are a working breed. Kelly is proud ot have been given a chance to show that her dogs are just as capable of work as they are pretty show dogs. Kelly has competed at the trials since its second year and has achieved the Road Dog Champion title with her bitch Disco in three consecutive years, and followed this by supporting her husband Wes to ride her horse to achieve Champion status twice with his bitch Molly. Kelly has twice judged the Yorkshire regional Trials.

Jane competing as groom with her Dalmatian Merlot with daughter Alex driving.

Jane Friend (Nationals Carriage 2007; Nationals Road 2010)

Horses and dogs have been a major part of Jane’s life. She had her first horse as a 21st birthday present and since then Jane’s riding has varied from hacking over the Welsh hills to representing Great Britain in 100 mile endurance race in Sweden. Jane has taken up carriage driving since her marriage in 1992.

Jane has had dogs for as long and has competed with local Dog Club display and obedience, at Crufts, and at Gundog Trials and just has a wonderful time living with the dogs of her life.

An introduction to Dalmatians came through an interest to merge and develop a working partnership between the dog and the horse. Jane feels her past experience gives her a special interest in training and animal welfare in sport.

Having had the good fortune to have competed in the first Carriage Dog Trial and having seen how the sport has developed, Jane would like to explore how to further publicise the carriage dog in different ways. Whilst she recognises that the future will see further changes, Jane feels that above all the best elements that were so evident at the first Trial - friendliness, support and enthusiasm – must be retained.

Ron Gallop judging from Sandra Phillips' Bennington 2 wheeler with Sandra driving Lady 15.0hh Shire x Thoroughbred with Geoff Phillips grooming

Ron Gallop (Nationals Carriage 2011) Ron is a member of British Dalmatian Welfare and an approved assessor for re-homing Dalmatians. Ron owns two rescued Dalmatians, Mr Darcy and Miss Mollie. He has trained them both as carriage dogs. Ron first competed in the Trials in 2007 with Maggie, his wife, driving. Ron competes as groom handler. Mr Darcy achieved his bronze award as a carriage dog in 2007 and silver, along with best conditioned dog, in 2008. In 2010 he achieved gold standard with 100% in his obedience tests. Miss Mollie first competed as a road dog with Ron’s daughter Jenni in the saddle in 2009 and achieved a bronze award. Miss Mollie is currently working towards her bronze award as a carriage dog. Both dogs have been presented with the Tanstar Trophy for Best Rescue Dog at the Trials. Both have also achieved the Kennel Club Good Citizen’s Gold Award. Ron recently attended the Society’s first training weekend for judges, stewards and trials organizers. He was the first carriage dog judge to judge from the backstep!

Celia Gilbert riding Alison Burgess's cob Jacko (Nationals Carriage and Road 2015).

My Liver spotted companion came to our family having been re-homed four times previously via the Blue Cross. She was a sad, mixed up creature, Crystal by name, unable to walk on a lead, or be left on her own without destroying furniture and fittings. Off the lead she regularly disappeared into the horizon, only to be seen three fields away in the distance, running up and down the rows of hops like a professional greyhound - I walked miles that first summer! Three dog obedience classes a week and still Poppy, as she was now known, showed no improvement. But she had found a 'Forever' home with us so I was determined not to give up.

A chance meeting with Anne Dickens changed our lives. An introductory day running Poppy with a carriage seemed like a date with disaster, but with a little encouragement she was soon running obediently like she had done this all her life. That day was indeed a life changing moment, both for her and I. It was like a switch had been turned and Poppy had found a purpose in life. Please don’t think that she became a doggy Saint - FAR from it. She constantly tested my resolve, scouring the surfaces for food and all of those things we expect from a Dalmatian. But now regularly running behind Anne's ponies she was more content and certainly happier in herself.

The story doesn’t end here. An introduction to Alison Burgess and the British Carriage Dog Society; back-stepping with my very dear friend Maura Reade competing at the National Trials with her dogs Domino and Levi along with Poppy, then travelling twice to Ireland to compete with her; and the last three years 'Summer holidaying' building the Nationals course. Now with my own horse and carriage, we regularly drive out with the dogs. Yes another waif and stray 'Bruno' now Harley the Wonderdog rescued from the furthest coastal point in West Wales, has joined us. Every weekend he can be found competing at local driving trials.

Charlie competing out on the endurance course in the US

Charlie Kocur - US (Nationals Road 2004; Road 2003) Charlie Kocur judged at our first trials in 2003, bringing with him heaps of empathy and experience from his time sompeting in the United States. Charlie has competed and titled with eight year old Smokey in Obedience, Agility, and DCA Road Trials. Together they hold the record for the most “High in Road Trial” awards and have also received the Best Conditioned Dog five times. Charlie and Smokey compete regularly in agility and are the first and only Dalmatian team to have three master agility Championships. Roxy, his wife who was also was an integral part of the first British trials, and their five year old Dalmatian also compete in Road Trials.

Charlie is a member of the Dalmatian Club of America and is vice president of the East Coast Road Trial Club. He is eagerly looking forward to his second judging assignment, meeting the competitors again and being a part of the British Trials for the second time. Charlie says “The first Carriage Dog Trial was such a memorable event, one could only hope to return again.”

Lisa Jane competing with Splosh and Deemster at the nationals in 2006

Lisa Jane Niemy (Nationals Carriage 2009)

Lisa Jane previously competed at both Road and Carriage Dog Trials in the UK. Lisa has been carriage driving since 1985, and competed in the carriage dog trials 2006, with her Dutch Warmblood, Deemster, who was a very successful International FEI Driving Trials Horse. Her dog Splosh was retired in 2006, but had attained silver Road Dog and bronze Carriage Dog awards, together with the award for Best Condition Dog. New dog, Inky is showing no aptitude for the road dog trials and would much prefer running at speed to running behind a horse! Lisa runs a horse related business, importing stallion semen from German, Dutch and Danish dressage and showjump horses.

Miranda Purves (Nationals Carriage 2014)

Miranda judges on one of her Fell ponies in 2014.

Having ridden and driven horses for many years and owned a variety of dogs, Miranda was delighted to be able to drive with my Dalmatian and take part in Carriage Dog Trials. I currently drive my Welsh Section C pony with whom I competed at National Driving Trials, or with a variety of Fell ponies, with whom I gained my Tandem bars. Previously Secretary of The Great Western Harness Club and Secretary of The Shepway Harness Club. Miranda is also an RDA Whip with the Cobbes Meadow Group and an assessor for carriage driving within the RDA.

Over the last few years I have very much enjoyed competing with my Dalmatian Splash, as well as participating with various ponies in numerous carriage dog displays. Splash qualified as a Gold Carriage Dog in 2013 and was crowned Carriage Dog Champion.

Moira Rogerson (Nationals Road 2007) Moira has always loved animals, especially dogs and horses and got her first dog when she was just 11 years old and trained her at the local dog training club. She started competing in obedience when she was 20 and quickly rose to the top level, Championship Test C, where she won Obedience Challenge Certificates with two different dogs. Later on Moira turned her training skills to Working trials with immediate success and to date has trained no less than three working trials Champions, one of which won the top working trials award of the year, the Kennel Club Working Trials Championships. 11 year old Working Trials Champion Xandoa's Born Free was retired on the day that she won this prestigious event.

Moira has also judged both Obedience and Championship shows and Working Trials Championships. Moira says that Judging the carriage dog trials will be a new and exciting experience and, after watching the carriage dog trials in May, applauds the work that Dalmatian trainers are doing to promote the idea of this great sport.

Ali judging on Monty at the SE Trials in 2011

Ali Rummey (South East Regional 2011; Nationals Road 2012 & 2013)

Ali has been involved with the trials since the first one in 2003 and has attended all of them (with the exception of the one held in Scotland!). Initially her daughter Charlie was Domino's handler, and she took over in 2005. Domino and her daughter, Demi, are both Silver Road Dogs. In addition, Demi has achieved a pass in her Gold Road Dog Obedience and also in Bronze and Silver Carriage Dog Obedience.

Since becoming a committee member, Ali has watched with interest as the rules have been refined and updated to produce a more comprehensive test and an approach to judging that reinforces what it is we looking for in our dogs i.e. that they are obedient, safe, Road and Carriage Dogs - not high scoring competitive obedience dogs!

Maggie judging on Risky in 2008

Maggie Saunders (Nationals Road 2008)

Maggie has ridden since she was seven years old and has owned horses and ponies for most of her married life. When her daughters were young, Maggie would exercise the ponies to keep them fit for the girls to compete and later she thought their youngster Risky might make a driving pony and at a Dartmoor Driving taster weekend, Maggie was hooked. After much long reining and some lessons, Maggie and Risky were off.

Maggie Joined Hereford Driving Group and tried showing but decided it was not for them. They joined the Monmouth group and tried going out for drives but Risky did not really like the convoys. Finally they tried driving trials which they really loved. They competed in the indoor trials and reached the finals in Bedfordshire.

Bonnie, the Bedlington Terrier, was already going out riding and driving, and they were looking for a second dog, so decided on a Dalmatian as they are carriage dogs. When her friend’s dally had puppies she was given first choice and Lucca arrived. She was a lovely dog from the start and reasonably easy to train. Luckily they live near the forest so when needing to train the dogs loose, can do it all off road.

One year they were told of the Carriage Dog Trials and have entered every year. Maggie and Colin really love the Trials, especially as everyone is so friendly and helpful. They have decided to retire Lucca however, as she is now nine and has competed at all levels. Maggie was delighted and apprehensive at being asked to judge the driving in 2008 and hopefully, with Colin’s help, will do a good job.

Tim judging on Sarah Mullins' Popeye in Ireland in 2011

Tim Stafford (Irish 2011; Nationals Carriage 2012; 2013; 2016)

I have been involved with dog training since age 12 with the family Golden Retrievers. A general interest developed into competitive obedience and part time work in a German shepherd rescue kennel. I then joined The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in 1985 and so started my professional career as a guide dog trainer and guide dog mobility instructor. I now head up a team of trainers based in Southampton providing services to over 200 guide dog owners. I gained a degree in Applied Animal Behaviour only last year, I am a provisional member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors an am now working towards certification as a clinical animal behaviourist. I was looking for a dog that could keep up with my running and cycling. Having decided to go for a Dallie, I stumbled upon the Carriage Dog Society’s website and spectated the national trials. The next year we returned to qualify at silver carriage dog after practising with a bike! Since then Todd has qualified gold at carriage dog and road dog. Tim has judged at the Irish Trials in 2011 and the carriage dogs at the Nationals in 2012.