I have been asked for my opinion of the ridgebacks I judged in Slovakia My first impressions came from the puppy classes; and what beautiful puppies they were. They had lovely heads and expressions and beautiful round eyes which were correct for their coat colour. I was impressed with the excellent bone, good feet and good angulation front and behind. In body they had correct height to length ratio. They were all extremely promising. The Baby Puppy winner was Nkosazana Lakota Lowenschwanz and Best Puppy was Here Comes the Sun Qwandoya.
The Junior Bitch class was the best class of the day in quality. It was a pleasure to judge a class of such typical and well balanced bitches of good size. I would have been happy to have any of them in my line-up but I had to narrow it down to four, the winning puppy was Bjorg Ginger Arte Cassari she was hotly challenged for the place by Celeste Crystal Energy of Africa, a lovely liver-nosed worth a mention. I am sure in the future many will change places as they develop.
Conversely the Junior Dog class was the most difficult of the day as many were at the leggy stage of their development - dogs being generally slower to develop than bitches. It was hard to assess how tall they were going to eventually end up. I was very pleased with the final line up where first was Black Joe Atre Cassari who is the litter brother to the bitch winner.
The main areas for improvement were in the fronts which did not match the better angulated rears. The less well angulated front assembly also makes for cathedral chests. Another area where improvement could be made is in ribbing, the deepest part of the ribs should be between the elbows and they should be oval when looking from the front. Some exhibits narrowed in ribbing towards the sternum and cut up too much which gives a lack of heart and lung room (herring gutted). I would have liked to see the ribbing on some which were corrected sprung carried further back. I did not see any which lacked rear angulation but some were not quite as well let down in the hock as I would like. There were very few cow hocks, which is unusual these days and I did not see any flat feet. Generally the heads were very good with not many with small deep set eyes and triangular heads lacking underjaw which is prevalent in the UK.
The ring could have been a little larger considering the size of the entry and some of the inexperienced handlers did not get their dogs into their stride before they had to turn which put their dogs at a distinct disadvantage. I thought the movement good overall but it is important to ensure that your dog tracks up as well as possible coming and going. This is a problem when you have unbalanced angulation front and rear.
I have to mention the liver-nosed as they had excellent pigmentation and conformation. I have never seen so many good ones at a show. I was very pleased to award the liver nosed Bonny Star Energy of Africa Best in Show. She has lovely balance and movement and is one of the best liver-nosed bitches I have seen. I was told afterwards it is quite difficult to get high honours with a liver nosed so I was pleased to give such a deserving bitch this win. Best Opposite Sex was Maanhaar Primo-Creatus Fateful Benjamin who took my eye as soon as he entered the ring. He has very good balance between size, strength and elegance, he is a very sound mover, a very outstanding young dog. The Best Veteran went to the dog Awesome Enzo by Luanda, the bitch having decided that she was not in the mood for the challenge.
I was invited to do some breed examinations after the show which I found very interesting as it is not something we do in the UK. I found during the show no problems with temperaments but during the examinations it became apparent that the temperaments were outstanding. I know not many dogs which would submit to such intense examination. In conclusion I would say that the Breed is thriving in Slovakia, especially considering the youngsters who will be the stars of the future. I will watch their progress with interest.