Donelda has been in the business of training dogs for over 40 years and started 15 years ago training dogs in Heelwork to Music (HWTM). Originally the moves were classic Heelwork with spins, twists and weaves and the concept of using music was introduced by John Gilbert and Mary Ray. Donelda won the inaugural event for HWTM in Coventry in 1996. In Freestyle you can create exciting moves in your routines incorporating distance moves, providing the moves are not dangerous to the dog. Freestyle has taken over from HWTM as the spectator sport.
Donelda is well known in the dog world and around the time of the first HWTM competition held in Coventry, was invited to America, Houston Texas, where she had the privilege of judging the fabulous Sandra Davis and her border collie, Pepper, at the Footloose Show. This was organised by the fabulous Caroline Scott who was the owner of the amazing “backing up” Golden Retriever, Rookie. This was Donelda’s introduction to Freestyling. Donelda brought various moves and ideas back with her to the UK and incorporated them in many of her routines. These moves included distance moves and dogs on their hind legs which were seen for the first time in UK competitions. Since then, many of her fellow dog trainers have used and expanded on these moves. Having had great success at many well known dog shows and competitions, Donelda has a wealth of experience that she has shared with her colleagues in the business and up and coming dog trainers through her book and training DVD’s.
Donelda was one of the driving forces of HWTM in Jersey and helped run shows in the UK, being one of the founder members of the Freestyle HWTM Association. This was attracting over 200 members in its first year including many of the talented Freestylers. Since 1999 Donelda has held a competition in Jersey every alternate year. The first competition was under the auspices of the American, World Canine Freestyle Organisation, the founder of which is Patie Ventre, a dynamic lady who has Freestyle as an Olympic event in the horizon.