A Critique by Judge Michael Marci-Demeter (Edited by Judge Demeter)
After a wonderful 1st day at the IWCC Nationals in Belleville Ontario on Saturday Sept 20th ’14, I contacted Judge Michael Demeter to ask if he would have time to send me a short critique on two of my bitches that were entered in Best Gait (Phoebe) and Best Hindquarters (Brooklyn) classes being judged by him.
Not only did Judge Demeter reply to my message but suggested we speak on the phone to make it easier for me, as an owner/breeder, to understand what he, as a judge, was looking for in his pick of the winner of each class.
Here are some notes that I took down as we spoke:
Best Gait Class:
It was a huge class of 13 entries. Phoebe (GRCH Kalkinny Magic of Starkeeper) was entered in this class.
On the first go-around, Judge Demeter wanted to see the side gait of each dog/bitch.
Nice smooth gait, easy and active, covers ground easily
Nice reach and drive
2 equal inverted Vs when on the move
On the second go-around, he was now looking at the top lines and endurance:
Making sure there was no shifting; e.g. if the top line dropped or lifted
Flipping paws due to lack of reach
Over driving rear
On the individual Out & Back, he was looking at placement
Tracking front & rear
Front swimming, paddling, wide front, narrow front, pasterns etc
Track hind & hocks weaving, cow hocked etc.
Judge Demeter’s notes on Phoebe (GR CH Kalkinny Magic of Starkeeper):
Nice young bitch, tall, lovely movement.
Nice side gait, long reach, good foot placement.
Brought her out with 2 other deserving bitches to allow her to be gaited alone.
Nice top line; no shifting or over reaching.
Needed a little more drive in the rear, which she should obtain once she matures a little more.
Might benefit from a taller, longer-legged handler or maybe some Cavaletti type work to
sync her stride with her owner/handler’s shorter stride. (Judges note: I did try to take into
account the ground was very uneven and many hounds had difficulty as did their handlers)
Winner: went to another lovely bitch that had, on that day, had just a bit more reach and drive than the other 2 brought out from the line up. This bitch went on to be the Winners Bitch and Best of Winners during the regular confirmation classes.
It was a huge class of 11 entries. Brooklyn (CDN CH Laislinn Starkeeper Brooklyn) was entered in this class. Judge Demeter was looking for:
On the Stack:
Broad hind end & angulation
Isosceles type of trapezoid Hip Bones: top of croup – outside bottom
Rounded Croup and proper tail set
Wide thighs outside & well muscled inside
Large nicely developed inside and outside thigh muscle
Large second thigh
On the Out and Back at a walk
Not to narrow and not to wide
No hocks shifting in or out (hitting each other)
Strength of rear muscles
Judge Demeter’s notes on Brooklyn:
Lovely wide hind, parallel hip bones
Nice Croup and Tail Set
Nice tracking, no narrowing or hocks shifting
Large well muscled inside and very well muscled outside muscles (Judges Note: I kept coming back to feel the thighs on this girl as I was amazed at how solid and developed they were)
Lovely large second thigh
Winner: went to this lovely muscular bitch (Brooklyn) as she possessed more inside and outside muscle than any of the other entries.
I have entered my dogs/bitches numerous times in some of the unofficial specialty classes and I found it very refreshing to be asked in the Best Hindquarters’ class to actually walk the out & back individually (which I had never been asked to do previously). As Judge Demeter explained to me, a dog/bitch can be stacked perfectly and have a very nice looking & muscular hind but it could be a very different dog/bitch on the walk should the hocks shift in movement. The same argument goes for the Best Gait class in which Judge Demeter was not only looking at ease of movement, drive and placement, but also watching for how the hounds maintained their top line on the move.
I would like to sincerely thank Judge Demeter for his time and insight. I am truly looking forward to showing again under him in the future.
I did make some minor edits to the notes that Louise took during our conversation for clarification. This conversation took place a few weeks after the show so a great deal is from my memory and my scribbled notes but mostly what I was looking for and how I was looking for it…
It is always nice to be asked why I made the choices I did and I felt that the impersonal use of email can cause misunderstandings I asked to have a phone conversation with Louise. I am always willing to explain how I made my choice on the day. I feel I have had many GREAT mentors over the years (to many to list) and was always taught to never be afraid to tell how and why I made my choices as it tends to make us reflect on the entire process of judging. I try to be methodical and compare each and every hound to the standard we have all become so accustomed to hearing and seeing. Once again it is always the dog on the day and every hound is different and can behave differently.
A word on using Caveletti for gait training I started using this after we had a female hound that experienced an FCE (Fibrocartilagenous Embolism). She was paralyzed in both rear legs and was back to getting around on her own in less than 21 days. Cavaletti helped her become more aware of where her feet were and helped make new neural connections. By using this horse training technique with our other hounds I found you can easily in just a few weeks of working for a few minutes a day get the hound and the handler to make small adjustments to timing that truly help when gaiting the hound in a show setting. It is also great for training for agility and the jumps so they don’t hit it with their feet. I owe this to Ellen Kroll who made the suggestion to try it…
I am still amazed to have been asked to give you my opinion about your hounds and I am very grateful for having the chance to do so.
Mentor list: Anne Spalding, Jim & Ellen Kroll , Jocelyne Gagne, Jamie & Linda Souza, Susan Prokopenko, Gretchen Bernardi, Emma Ross, Anne Worthman, Jill Bregy and many others
Reference: Isosceles Trapezoid: