Dog shows can refer to Obedience, Speciality, Novelty, Dog agility, Field/ Lure coursing and Tracking trials…but the most-common meaning is Conformation shows, in which dogs are rated for how well their appearance conforms to the ‘Standard‘ for the breed.
Like all other breeds of dogs, the Ridgebacks have their own ‘Standard’ which is the formal written description of the ‘perfect ideal’ of the breed. The judge makes the decision in the show ring assessing all the dogs against this ‘Standard’ , to evaluate how closely they conform to their ‘blueprint’.
Conformation shows should be considered as a sport, and the dog – the ‘sportsman’, since the judging and the breed deserve that the dog is properly trained for showing, performing the best it can and being in peak condition on the day of the show.
Though it might not be as fun as the sports like Agility or Coursing, the Conformation show has an important place as being most essential in the long term to promote sound dog breeding. It is the dogs that win in the show ring that will generally be used for breeding and so dog showing has long-term important implications for each breed.
(In France, after a dog reaches 15 months, they can go to a doggie judge and ask for a ‘confirmation‘ for permission to have future puppies. If the judge agrees that they are suitable (excellent to their ‘Standard’), they receive a stamped approval document which, in France, is necessary for breeding.)
Yikes..I’m 15 months..I can’t be thinking about things like that!..I’ve got things to do, places to go, doggies to see!
From the detailed information that is written about the Ridgeback Standard..the overall word is ‘balance’.
There is an excellent motto from the Ridgeback writer Stig G Carlson used in his book to describe us:
‘ There is only one extreme feature in a Ridgeback and that is the total absence of extremes’.
With that, it is meant: strong but not too heavy; powerful, but never clumsy; elegant, but never weak, or sleek like a greyhound; fast, but not the fastest; agile as few other breeds can be; and with staying power and energy.
The main focus for the Ridgeback is functionality, balance and proportion.
There is some amazing photography and beautiful images that illustrate this in Peter Obschernicat’s Rhodesian Ridgeback the African lion dog.
You can click on any of these photos in this Post to see the bigger picture!
So, earlier this month I participated in my first Conformation show.
We were lucky enough to be invited by Paula and Bruno, Papa Sion’s humans, to join them at a show. They chose a very friendly show in Pierrelatte as my first show since it was outdoors in a park and smaller than some of the other shows in France. This choice was to ensure a good-fun, first show experience.
There were 750 dogs to be polite to and ‘leave’ when asked, so it would also be good practise for me to be in an environment where I couldn’t say hello to all the dogs all the time….humpf!
Bruno (expert Ridgeback human) was going to help us and we looked forward to a fun and exciting day out – full of intense new doggie smells, sights and sounds. Vikki wanted to use it as a team building day, since it was going to be a team effort, learning time & experience for both of us.
You can see how much bigger Papa Sion is than me, but as already mentioned – its all about the balance and proportions of the individual dog rather than being the biggest or the tallest. Papa Sion has excellent proportions and wins lots of shows since he is so close to the Ridgeback ‘Standard’ – that is why he is such a good Ridgeback Papa…I’m lucky to be one of his pups.
Vikki and I tried our best to copy what Bruno and Papa Sion were doing – the ‘Stand’ !:
Then, Papa Sion gave me some advice on my ‘pace’ or ‘gait’ – A well-balanced Ridgeback will trot in a manner where the front feet move with low, effective strides almost like caressing the ground..The ‘Standard’ says: “the back is held level and the stride is efficient, free and unrestricted..perfect balance between power and elegance”
Papa Sion demonstrates how I should be moving in the show:
Afterwards we had a run around – my Papa is much faster and stronger than me…I thought I was the best runner in the world until I saw him!
The morning of the show, we got up extra extra early…I think I was still sleeping walking! We went to an open field since Vikki & I both needed a little run around and play before leaving…the morning light in the Provence was golden and mystical compared to the crisp blue of the Riviera….
Afterwards, we met up with Bruno and his youngest doggie Lily and set off in convoy to Pierrelatte.
Lily and I had already met the day before, she’s so pretty. We were pleased to see each other again. It was Lily’s first show too!
She was in the Puppy class and I was in the Junior class.
We arrived there nice and early and found a quiet, shady area where we could set up our ‘base camp’. Here, Lily and I could relax with our comfy mats, cold water and goodies…we were already settled and taking a little nap by the time the other doggies arrived… (can’t believe I slept through that bit!)
When we took a little walk around, it was very exciting….so many doggies I wanted to say hello to! After a while though, I was quite happy sniffing, watching and listening to all the sounds and soaking up the atmosphere.
Wow! Some dogs can be so noisy! Us Ridgebacks are so cool and quiet compared to the other dogs!
By the end of the day, I wasn’t too bothered about meeting or seeing anymore dogs.
In fact, I jumped over a sleeping Boxer dog to avoid waking him up. Lily and I totally ignored the Poodles who were barking to show off their new hairstyles! As for the Shorties…when we went to watch them strut their stuff, after 10 minutes I fell asleep whilst they walked past my nose !
Enough dogs for one weekend….Tiring work all this show business!
Here’s how we did…
Thank you Imkahena family – it was great to be at the show…I hope we can do another one together soon!