‘It feels like a dream’: Meet the show horse producer who won two classes at Crufts

  • He has produced horses for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) several times, but 2022 was showing producer John Cutts’ debut at the canine equivalent of the prestigious horse show, Crufts. Not only did John compete at the world-famous fixture but he came away with two class wins and an overall accolade while leading the Massey family’s French Bulldog bitch Leyamda Uptown Girl (Ebony).

    Ebony — who was bred by Emma Livesey and Lynn Foley and was also a Crufts debutante — won both puppy and junior bitch classes as well as the best puppy bitch title while handled by John.

    John, who runs the Parkdene Stud, has always had a passion for the French Bulldog breed.

    “I’ve always wanted to give dog showing a go,” says John. “Emma, who trains Ebony, mentioned that she would need someone to handle her at Crufts this year as she had two other dogs through to the final.”

    John attended a couple of training classes held by Joanna Barclay prior to his Crufts appearance, but he only managed to practise with Ebony on the day of their championship.

    “We had a quick practice outside the ring and the rest is a blur,” says John. “Ebony is a very attentive dog and she enjoyed the atmosphere. She moved freely and boldly all day. Frenchies have unique characters and Ebony is particularly loving and sweet.”

    Ebony was joined at Crufts by her two sisters, Emma’s own First Lady Of Rohan (Danger Mouse) and She Strikes A Pose, who is owned by Tamia and Melanie Cardoza.

    John explained how the classes run.

    “All the exhibits enter the ring in catalogue order before the class is split into two. Each section walks around the judge before they’re lined up and each dog is presented on a table for a closer assessment; this is called stacking and it’s similar to the conformation section of a horse class. The dog is then taken down from the table and walked directly to the judge who assesses movement.

    “Then, the judge pulls their top five exhibits forward into a final line before a final walk round is done so the judge can change the placings if needed. Both Ebony and Danger Mouse were called into the final five which was amazing.”

    When asked if Crufts shares similarities to the major horse showing championships, John says that the atmosphere is more relaxed, but that the need for showmanship and confidence in your animal is still paramount.

    “I’m very competitive so I went into the ring showing Ebony off as best I could, as I would with a show horse.

    “The pre-show training is very important as it is with a horse. The environment is different in that dog shows are a lot less tiring, plus the grooming and bathing is far less stressful.

    “As with a horse, you have to remain calm with your dog as they easily pick up on your nerves which can impact their confidence and ultimately how they perform in the ring.

    “Being called out to win still feels like a dream, and I hope to do some more dog shows this year, alongside running my show horses.

    “Our team of horses is exciting; we have several new faces, as well as multi in-hand champion Custom Made The Watchman, who is now out under saddle, and Lostock Uptown Funk, who ended his 2021 season with a second at HOYS.”

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