by Carol Delsman
What it is, who can use it, and how do you utilize it.
You could be a new breed trying to enter the herding program or you may want to show your dog in it's best light at a National Specialty. Maybe you plans have changed and now you can attend the local trial but entries have closed. It is possible that you dog has reached his maximum level of ability, but both you and you dog still enjoy the sport and would like to continue to compete in started or intermediate classes. You or your dog may just needs more trial experience before moving to the next level.
If any of the above describes you, your dog or your situation, then the "exhibition only" class is for you. In 1998, AKC expanded this class to include the herding program. It allows dogs and handlers to participate in herding events for which they might not otherwise be eligible. This is also the route for any additional breeds to enter the herding program.
The Giant and Standard Schnauzer and the Pyrenean Shepherds are currently only allowed to enter herding trials at this status. This is the "proving" ground for them if they are to come into the program in full status. Because competitive runs have priority over these runs, club may want to hire a separate judge for this class or set aside slots for these dogs.
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Many exhibitors who are attending their National Specialty want to show their associates the quality of the their dogs but are not yet ready for the next level of trialing. Exhibition only allows them to show their dogs at their best at a lower level and there for not jeopardizing their training.
While it is possible to show your dog indefinitely in the advanced classes, it is not the case for started and intermediate. Sixty (60) days after completing a title, the dog must move up in regular classes. Exhibition only allows dogs that need more trialing experience or dogs that just don't have what it takes to be an advanced dog, a venue where they can continue to compete.
Exhibition only needs to be listed in the premium in order for a club to use it. It is up to the club to decide if they want the same closing date for these entries or if they want to take day of entries. They can also set a different entry fee for this class and/or a different fee for day of as opposed to pre-entries.
Judges would judge these dogs at the same time they are running the class of competitive runs. They are scored like any other run and handlers are given their score sheets at the same time as the other competitors. Their scores are just not computed in the class placements or toward a title.
It is possible to give participation ribbons or awards for dogs getting qualifying scores if the club so chooses. We would encourage national as well as local clubs to consider this option.