Sunday 8 March 2009

Since I first commenced showing Border Collies in 1980 I have judged at championship show level on numerous occasions in the UK, championship level in Ireland and the continent of Europe, as well as the USA.  I have always admired the Border Collies in Australia, and within my own stock I have a blend of Australian/New Zealand lines together with the British. I have judged pure Australian imports on a few occasions previously, and this prestigious judging appointment gave me the opportunity I had always dreamed of - a chance to assess the new generation of dogs and lines in Australia for myself.  My critique provides the reasoning behind my placings, and is an overall constructive comment on the Breed on the day.

On arrival at the venue on the Sunday morning I had my first real opportunity to fully appreciate the show layout which had been setup by a really well organised and hard working committee. I enjoy watching the Border Collie move in profile and my ring, which was the largest I have ever judged in, was absolutely perfect. Walking the ring prior to judging I was full of anticipation to see how the dogs would perform in such a magnificent arena.

My first three “property” classes are classes I have not judged before and I must confess I found them more time consuming than I had expected. It was, however, a great chance to view some of the bitches who could well have been exhibited on the Saturday and I paid the same attention to the judging of Headed Bitch, Gaited Bitch and the Dam with Progeny classes as to all of the later male dog breed classes.

Whilst I only judged the bitches within the special property classes and the class challenges I felt that the Show Border Collie as a whole in Australia has more uniformity in type than anywhere else, and the presentation of exhibitors and exhibits, is also superior. Overall, the handling skills displayed by the exhibitors were superior to the UK and Europe, and would put the majority of the USA professional handlers to shame. The only minor criticism being some handlers do tend to try and move each dog at the same, and sometimes too fast pace, - moving the dog at its ideal pace is important and the wrong speed will often highlight faults rather than mask them.

I was looking for a dog that conformed to the Australian Breed Standard, and my placings were, as always, based upon the virtues rather than faults.  From an overall construction perspective the majority of the dogs present had good neck lengths, and the length of second thigh was also on the whole good. There should be sufficient length such that the hock extends slightly beyond the rear of the dog.  Either, long or weak behind, or so short in second thigh that the hocks are actually longer than thigh & the rear feet stand beneath the point of tail set are incorrect. Steep shoulders and/or lack of upper arm length was frequently apparent, a trend which is consistent throughout the world. In my entry, I found the number that actually excelled in both shoulder angle and upper arm length was lower than I had hoped to find. Almost all exhibits moved with tails below the top-line and those with a high tail set were in the minority. Movement out and back was on the whole very good with very few unsound dogs, just a few crossing behind, excessively wide or out at elbow. I do not penalise close hind movement heavily, it is in my opinion a natural trait within the breed, however I cannot accept interference or crossing. Side gait did vary somewhat, the more typical problems being lack of reach, incorrect “stiff” pastern action in front, excessively high rear kicking motion, top-line bounce and exaggerated rear movement as if “riding a pedal bike”. Whilst some of these actions might be flashy and appealing to all-rounder judges this is not correct Border Collie movement. I was looking for a dog that moved with minimum effort and minimum lift in both front and rear feet, and with good reach and forward drive rather than an up and down propulsion action. I did find the correct action, but I feel correct “Border Collie” movement is such an important characteristic/requirement of the breed that I would have liked to have seen it in a larger percentage of the dogs.

Two further observations, body length and overall balance are important aspects within the breed. Body length should not be excessive and/or come from a longer weak loin rather than the rib cage. The overall appearance should consist of a balanced outline of graceful neck through withers, back and then gentle slope of croup to tip of tail. Several had very good necks but finished abruptly behind with flat/square croups. In some instances it was like looking at two different dogs front to rear, and whilst these areas were not in the majority the percentage was higher than it should be.

I would like to thank everyone for their entry and the sporting manner you accepted my results, and my wish to see the dogs move. 
Thanks also to my able stewards and the excellent NSW Southern District Border Collie Club committee who gave me this appointment, made my stay most welcome and had organised a 3 day show that was probably the best Border Collie showing event to have ever been staged in the world. To the exhibitors, breeders and the National Border Collie Council I wish you every success in the future and another great “National” in Tasmania 2012.

My one final request, Australasia gave the world the Show Border Collie, please continue to remember its origins as a working dog, exaggerations for the benefit of group success could well make this wonderful breed like so many others, more suited as an ornament on a lead rather than the worlds greatest sheepdog.

Best Headed Bitch (Entry 25, Absent 7)

An interesting class with a variety of head patterns present. My preference is for correct planes and quality refinement which could be seen in my short list and placings. Eye placement needs to be watched as I did find some that were set quite close, overall eye shape was very good. I do find the boxy/Labrador type muzzle, often accompanied by jowls to be incorrect, nearly all had good side profiles with correctly defined stop and correct parallel skull and muzzle planes.

 1st - Tehya Greatest Luv Of All - T Bailey

Classically marked b/w bitch with correct oval eye shape, colour and good eye placement giving a pleasing kind expression. Well set and tipped ears which she used constantly, good skull and muzzle proportions, good stop, side profile showed correct parallel skull and muzzle planes and when viewed from above skull through muzzle to nose tapered correctly. She has a good strong under-jaw, lips could be a little tighter, pigment and bite was good.

2nd - Ch. Majalibre Great Calamity - T Bailey

Darker b/w bitch with again super eye shape, colour and placement. Very close up to the winner and similar comments on skull and muzzle apply, was only afterwards I discovered she was the mother of my winner and obviously passed on so many of her virtues. On the day I felt the winner just had the extra sparkle/alertness but it was very close

3rd- Glentress Hwy To Heaven - D & K Adams

Stronger head pattern than previous two but still correct and in proportion with the body in this B/W classically marked bitch. Her eye shape was good, she has a well proportioned muzzle and skull with correct planes from the side and above. I just preferred the eye placement in 1 and 2.

Best Gaited Bitch (Entry 30, Absent 4)

Overall a good class, some handlers did not quite get the best from their exhibits on the day due to incorrect pace which meant some exhibits lost shape and balance in side gait. Majority were sound out and back, side gait on some lacked in reach and minimum lift.

1st - Ch. Calanais Kinky Boots CDX AD JD SD - L Schneider

I liked this B/W bitch, was sound out and back and then simply glided round the ring with a smooth tireless gait, good reach in front and behind. She really is a quality mover with minimum lift of feet, correct in pastern, no unnecessary lift behind, lovely graceful outline and a top-line with no bounce or lift. Sure she could have continued to lap the ring a further dozen times and still not miss a beat.

2nd - Ch Bordalace Luck of the irish - AJ Cowin

6 years old B/W bitch. Was sound out and back with a good side profile showing minimum lift of feet and no vertical propulsion. She just lacked the drive behind and energy of my winner today.

3rd - Ch. Tehya Destiny All Over - T Bailey

This B/W bitch excelled in side profile and showed good reach and excellent style with minimum lift. Preferred her side profile to 2nd but 2nd place scored in front coming towards and rear action going away.

Dam and Progeny (Entry 14, Absent 6)

This was an interesting class to judge as the number of progeny varied from 1 to 3. In my assessment I was looking for a dam that was well constructed and was able to pass on the majority of her own virtues to her progeny.  Overall I did find this class somewhat disappointing as I did not find quality and virtues in abundance.

1st - Gr Ch Cucriche Chances Are - M&S Goulding

Overall nice type dam with good balance which could be seen in her 3 offspring. Rear angulation, length of second thigh, croup etc was very good across the whole group. Shoulders and upper arm did varied from acceptable to good. I asked whole group to move together, hind movement was somewhat erratic on a couple of the progeny but all were very good coming towards. Certainly the most consistent group in this class.

2nd - Ch. Danari Destinys Rose - T Bailey

B/W mother and daughter who were so very similar in type, make and shape. Ok angles fore and aft, both showed very good side profile moving and as a pair moved better away than my 1st. But in the end they just lost out to 1st group who had better front action towards and in a larger group demonstrated the dam’s ability to produce her virtues within multiple progeny.

3rd - Ch. Danari Date with Destiny - P & T Wheatley

The dam has stamped a very nice “type” into her progeny, standing they looked a good picture. I particularly liked the construction and movement of the dam however I did not find her same virtues consistently in her two progeny. Her son in particular did not have the same low and effortless movement of the dam which in the end cost them higher awards.

Class 1 – Baby Puppy Dog (3 months to under 6 months)  Entry 17, Absent 5)

A difficult class to judge as the exhibits varied so much in their development, and movement is obviously still not finished. I restricted the amount of moving and also removed my tie etc prior to judging these exhibits at this introduction into their show careers. I did gently test for testicles but did not intend to penalise any if found missing. It was during this class that I realised that steep shoulders and short upper arms were probably going to be as much a problem in Australia as elsewhere in the world.

1st - Tookurra Wild At Heart - PM Wachtel

I particularly liked this nice type dark headed 4 ½ month old b/w who in the end won this class with some ease. Puppy head still to finish, however he has good proportions at this stage with nice eye, expression and pigment. He has ample bone, nice coat, an ok upper arm, good rear angulation, croup and lovely long tail. He still has some growing to do but does have enough in knuckles to suggest he will make size. Movement was sound out and back, but understandably not yet using himself in side gait. Although I preferred his head, type and overall construction to the Baby Puppy Bitch in the actual class challenge he did not perform so well on the move and the well trained steady movement of the bitch won her the challenge. Opposite Baby Puppy In Show

2nd -  Khayoz Blame Itonthenite - Khayoz Kennels

Another one who was well off for bone, shorter in muzzle than winner but head still equally as good in this 3 ½ month old puppy. Overall he has balanced angles which he displayed on the move. Upper arm was acceptable at this stage in development, just preferred the shoulder angle and finish behind of my winner.

3rd - Showioz Just Cause - KM Ashdowne & P Vardy

A 3 ½ month old B/W of different but equally as good type who is currently more up on leg than both 1 and 2. Overall has good angles front and rear with sufficient upper arm, good ribbing and loin. Just lacked the body and maturity to go higher today.

4th - Ancrum Its In The Jeans - R Wilson

This 3 month old B/W has considerable strength in head, Ok front and rear angles. Moved soundly just lacked the head pattern of those above at this stage in his development, hope he does not become to coarse as he matures.

5th - Danari Drama At Dusk - P & T Wheatley

On first entry into the ring I thought this 5 month old B/W could well lead this class as he displayed a controlled and coordinated side gait superior to the younger exhibits. He scored on overall performance and maturity but I preferred the front angulation/shoulder  and upper arm of those above.

Class 2 Minor Puppy Dog (6 Months to under 9 months) Entry 8, Absent 2

Not a big class so it would be unfair to give an overall assessment, I did find several of the body lengths to be from loin at this stage of their development.

1st - Nahrof No More Mr Ice Guy (AI) - LE Somers & EJ Badio

Classy 8 month old B/W dog who has a refined head with good stop, eye shape and placement, correct muzzle/skull properties. He really excelled in neck, has sufficient shoulder and upper arm, good ribs and loin, nice rear angles with sufficient croup which could be seen on the move. I was impressed with his controlled side gait just a touch stiff in pastern in profile and needs to tighten in front but this will hopefully come with maturity. In the challenge for the class I found his overall angles to be superior to those of his litter sister. Minor Puppy in Show

2nd - Bordalace Theme For A Dream - CL Mostyn

This dark B/W dog scored in neck and shoulder, has sufficient upper arm showing good reach with minimum lift gaiting. Moved OK out and back and in profile. Just lacked the finish and rib length of my winner.

3rd -  Korella Point Blank - RR Mathew

I liked the properties of this young mans dark head, good proportion muzzle to skull, overall good front assembly but like several in this class a touch long in loin at this stage in his development. Was sound away and back and close up to 2nd.

4th - Bordalace Day Dream Believer - AJ Cowin

Stronger head pattern to first three, shoulder angle is sufficient and was sound enough away and back. Just preferred 2nd and 3rd for their more effective side gait and finish.

5th - Glentress Wait N C - D & K Adams

Another with a stronger head pattern but still equally in proportion and correct. Moved ok out and back if a little loose. Side profile not yet developed and tended to both stand and move high in rear and not extend which cost him a higher award.

Class 3 Puppy Dog (6 months to under 12 months) Entry 13, Absent 3

A larger class than the minor puppy but lacked strength in depth with numerous upright shoulders and excessively short upper arms making for front movement either lacking extension or stilted and high.

1st - Sashdan Smokin Joe - Sashdan Kennels

Super blue/white dog of quality.  He really is such a lovely picture in profile with super outline from back of skull through neck, withers, back, croup to tip of tail. I liked his head properties, nice kind and well placed eyes, ok ears, good skull and muzzle proportions correctly tapering to nose. Shoulder and upper arm were both good, really super top-line and croup with good angulation behind. Was sound out and back and had an easy and efficient side gait when moved at the correct pace. A very promising youngster who if he continues to mature will surely trouble the very best in the future. In the class challenge I had no doubt in awarding him
Best Puppy in Show over the bitch who could not match his shoulder and upper arm.

2nd - Glentress Dare To Dream - D & K Adams

A really nice Red/White (Australian chocolate/white). He has a good head, lovely neck, sufficient shoulder angulation and upper arm length. He moved soundly out and back with a very good side gait. Just preferred finish behind of loin and croup of the winner.

3rd - Nahrof Courting Destiny - LE Somers & EJ Badior

Overall nice type very flashy B/W who had a wonderful neck, good length of ribs/loin, sufficient angles and was sound out and back. Just preferred pasterns and side gait of 1 and 2 who demonstrated a more efficient and effortless action.

4th - Tehya Greatest Thrill Of All - T Bailey

Stronger type head pattern than first three in this B/W. Sound out & back with good balance and control in side gait, I just preferred the angles and overall side gait extension of those above.

5th - Tookurra Star Attraxion - PM Wachtel

Well made and angulated B/W who once he gains more confidence could do well.

Class 4 Junior Dog (9 months to under 18 months) Entry 12, Absent 2

A notoriously difficult period for the younger dogs as they progress through adolescence to adult. I have always found this class to be varied and it was no different here today. I found numerous with poor shoulders, upper arm and multiple with weak and/or exaggerated hind movement.

1st - Etherial Up In Lights - M & S Goulding

Overall nice type B/W with a kind expression, acceptable head although would prefer better eye placement. Where this boy excelled was in his good shoulder, graceful outline through neck, withers, back and croup. His upper arm is sufficient and his rear angles are balanced with the front, he also has good length of second thigh. He was sound approaching and displayed a good side gait with balance, reach and minimum lift. I would prefer better feet and this youngster needs to tighten in hock movement/action going away. However he scored over my 2
nd place in profile and side gait. He still needs to gain more confidence in order to progress further but took Best Junior in Show over the bitch who lacked his side profile and gait.

2nd - Finealta Easy Rider - Brennan Dickenson Collett

In full coat a very glamorous B/W dog with an eye catching head who was presented beautifully. Moved better away than the winner and was also sound coming towards, side gait was ok. Was very close up to the winner but ultimately lost out to my winner’s front assembly and lighter footed side gait.

3rd - Classicyds Coolabah Tree (AI) - K Robson & DT & NA Radcliffe

Nice type b/w who moved well particularly out and back. He has good head properties and an ok shoulder/upper arm assembly. Lacked the overall finish of 2
nd at this stage in his development.

4th - Sashdan Bear Essentials - Sashdan Kennels

B/w who moved soundly out and back, would prefer tighter lips, just preferred angles of first 3.

5th - Maghera Whatsyourproblem - Maghera Kennels

I really liked the front assembly and head of this B/W young dog and thought at first he might well be my winner. He stood and showed really well, with a quality well defined head, great neck and good shoulder. Unfortunately I found his croup and hind quarters resulted in a lack of balance which was apparent in his side gait.

Class 5 Intermediate Dog (18 months to under 36 months) < Entry 33, Absent 3)

A good size class, overall I found presentation and handling to be very good however depth in correct construction particularly in fronts/shoulder was lacking. As is the way sometimes, the best shoulder and upper arm that I judged all day was in this class and ended up not placed as he totally misbehaved on the move. 1 and 2 were in the end clear leaders in this class, 3 through 7 were then close to each other.

1st - Tullacrest Ice Man (AI) - Tullacrest Kennels

Well presented 2 years old B/W with a good head pattern and balance between skull/muzzle. He has a kind yet alert expression, shoulder is ok and he has a really good rear assembly which he used very well in side gait. Was sound out and back and challenged hard for higher honours. Handler just needs to watch his profile standing as often he stood with a sloping top-line and currently his abundant front coat makes him appear un-balanced between front and rear. In the end this cost him in the class challenge to a really super B/W bitch Ch. Glentress I Can Coz I Am. Best Opposite Intermediate in Show

2nd -  Glentress Goaheadmakmyday - D & K Adams

Litter brother to the Best Intermediate in Show this nearly 3 years old B/W still needs more time to develop. He has a very good shoulder and upper arm, good bone, and sufficient rear angulation. Moved a little close away, was good coming towards and moved very well in profile. I just preferred the loin and overall finish of the winner but it was very close.

3rd - Gr Ch. Gremaric Cruzin - GB Richens

I liked the breed type of this B/w who has moderate bone, a very good head pattern and nice balanced side movement. Standing he displays a good profile with particularly good croup and rear assembly. To complete the picture I would just prefer a better shoulder angle/upper arm which ultimately cost him a higher award in this class.

4th -  Winpara Lucky Shot - RJ Evans 

B/W of nice overall type. I found his head to be appealing and of correct proportions. His expression was kind and alert, his neck and ribs are ok and he has a good croup. I would prefer more angulation however he is balanced front to rear. He moved soundly out and back but lacked the low and long ground covering gait of 1 and 2. In my final assessment I preferred 3rd on hind construction and tail length.

5th - Ch. Etherial Heartbreaker - M & S Goulding

B/W of different overall type. This showman had an acceptable head, good ribs, good bone and was in good overall condition. He moved very well coming towards however I referred the movement away of those above and I found his hind action/lift to be excessive which ultimately cost a higher place.

Class 10 Australian Bred Dog ( 6 months and over, whelped in Australia) Entry 32, Absent 6, withdrawn 1

Best class of the day, still had a high proportion that lacked in shoulder and/or upper arm but there were several who excelled in breed type and had good overall construction and movement. Was particularly impressed by my top 5, it has been a very long time since I found 5 males of this quality in a single class.

1st - Innisman All Said N Done - G & A Hall

This stylish dog epitomizes the perfect balance between sheepdog and show dog, he has glamour without exaggeration. He is an overall excellent type, correct moderate bone and size, has all the glamour but with the construction and amount of coat needed to perform a day’s work. Classically marked B/W with a lovely head of good proportions, eye is of good shape and placement, good ears, giving overall kind expression. He depicts a masculine yet refined Border Collie. Neck of good length and strength, angulation is well balanced front and rear with good croup length and angle. He is sound out and back, with a coordinated action. In gait he has minimum lift in front and rear and an effortless light footed action, the more he moved and his handler relaxed the better he got, displaying a good overall shape and balance. In the challenge for challenge dog he simply commanded the award both standing and on the move. In the challenge for BIS I expected him to lag after a long day but he continued to perform, standing with regality and moving with purpose and ease. The exceptional bitch Ch. Danari Datewith Destiny was the challenger for BIS and put everything into achieving the top honour. This bitch has a lovely expression, great neck, good front assembly and excellent hind angulation. Like the dog she was sound out and back and covered the ground in profile with style and power. I was really splitting hairs on my decision but eventually I selected the male for his overall unexaggerated balance, shoulder and upper arm. Challenge Dog and Best in Show.

2nd - Ch. Glentress Ostentatious - D & K Adams

This B/W pushed the winner all the way, it was so close. I really like the type of this B/W, he has good head properties with nice balance and planes, his shoulder and upper arm are ok, he has good heart room, ribs and loin, and a wonderful rear assembly. In side profile he moved really well, style, balance and a light footed action with no exaggerated lift in front or behind. I found him good coming towards, maybe a touch close for some going away but there was no interference and his hocks were absolutely parallel with no weakness. I moved my shortlisted dogs around the ring considerably and 1 & 2 simply got better and better with nothing to split them. Ultimately I had to split hairs to decide on the winner on another day it could well have been different. In the challenge for Reserve Challenge Dog he once more stepped into the ring and commanded it for type, style and movement. Reserve Challenge Dog.

3rd - Gr Ch. Monochrome Currencycreek - N & L Butler

When I first saw this B/W dog enter the ring I expected him to be at the top end of the class and that is where he finished. He was so well balanced in side profile and of good breed type, moderate bone, good size and head properties correct. He moved well away but I preferred the fronts of 1 and 2 coming towards. Overall a very nice dog who excels in side gait/profile.

4th - Ch. Yeoville Epic Journey - D & K Adams 

Masculine and heavier boned B/W of stronger head type but correct balance and in proportion with the build of this dog. He has an alert expression with tipped ears and commanded 4th through his excellent movement out, back and around. Just felt he lacked the finish in coat and body of 3rd.

5th - Ch. Kyntaf Blessing N Disguise - S Krol

This b/w has good head properties with markings that could detract from his good muzzle and skull properties.  He has OK angles front and back and moved soundly. Stood 5th in a very strong class

Class 11 Open Dog (6 months and over) Entry 29, Absent 8

Lacked the depth of quality I found in the Australian bred class, first two being clear winners. Again there was a high proportion lacking in shoulder and upper arm, also numerous with incorrect pedal and kicking rear actions when gaiting.

1st - Gr Ch. Glentress King O The road - D & K Adams

Stronger all male b/w dog with a lot of quality. Masculine well proportioned head but not coarse as he has good balance between skull and muzzle and head is in correct proportion with strength in body/bone. Good tight and well shaped feet.  Extremely well constructed dog with good angles in front and rear. Sound out and back and moved round the ring with great reach, balanced shape and minimum lift of feet. Stood 2
nd for much of this class but just kept getting better as he went round and in the end I had to concede that he was the total package and give him the top spot over another excellent male. In the challenge my challenge and reserve challenge dog were just ahead of this boy, it was close but in the final lineup I just preferred these two more refined dogs. Best Opposite Open in Show to the Reserve Best in Show bitch challenge winner.

2nd NZ Ch Clan-abby NZ Dream Lover (Imp NZ) - D& K Adams

Another top quality b/w who was of a more refined type and I actually preferred over the winner. This boy has an ok shoulder and good rear angulation with correct length and shape of croup. He is excellent coming towards, a touch close away, moving around he led this class till almost the final circuit with his balanced and effortless gait. He was so unlucky to meet the winner who in the end I felt just scored in neck and stepped up during the final assessment with even greater reach and drive. Will surely gain his Australian title with ease.

3rd - Ch. Monochrome Maestro - W & P Nicholls

Another classically marked B/W who excels in neck, rib and loin has sufficient angles behind, moved soundly out and back, just preferred the shoulder and side gait of 1 and 2.

4th - Gr Ch. Etherial Chase The Ace PT - M & S Goulding

 Liked the overall picture of this B/W standing, lacked the head pattern/qualities of first three but still not coarse and is acceptable. Pleasing overall type and shape, very good angulation in rear, sound coming towards just found his exaggerated rear action to spoil the overall picture preferring the more efficient gaits of those above.

5th - Ch. Clanheath Designa Future - P & J Marshall

This B/W moved soundly out and back and around. Personally I would prefer slightly more moderate bone and head refinement.