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Showing - (Chapter 11)...
Author: Guy BarrettTitle: Showing - (Chapter 11)
Date: 2002-12-29 17:31:26Uploaded by: webmster
During the winter months about half a dozen major shows for racing pigeons are held in different parts of the United Kingdom. Classes for racers are also included in all the chief agricultural shows, which take place in the summer and autumn.

The majority of the birds entered in these exhibitions are show racers. They are the same breed as racers, but their owners have concentrated their efforts, by careful breeding, on producing the required shape of body, wing, head, etc., and the quality of feather needed to win in the show pen, rather than on producing birds, which can win races. Indeed, many of the show racers which are seen at these big shows are never allowed to fly out, but one cannot help but be impressed by the wonderful condition in which these birds are exhibited by the top showmen. And there is no doubt that these very good fanciers contribute a great deal to the sport. If it were not far the show birds, the pigeon classes would be very poorly supported indeed, and would disappear from the agricultural shows, thereby losing much very valuable publicity far all concerned.

The points of a pigeon.

For these reasons, I have never agreed with the racing judges who condemn any bird, which they think is a show bird. Many of the best families of show racers are descended from the birds of Renier Gurnay, a world-famous Belgian racing pigeon fancier. He cultured a strain of particularly handsome-looking pigeons, which were very popular among racing fanciers, especially between the wars, when Gurnay himself was at his prime.

A number of these show birds can fly the distance, if given the chance, and this has frequently been proved in the last year or two. In recent years, some fanciers have, by careful and selective breeding, greatly improved the flying abilities of these birds, without losing the physical qualities. Gone from the prizewinners are the old, wide-rumped, large-headed types of bird. The modern show racer is a much sleeker, racier creature.

There is no official Standard for show racers, such as exists for some of the fancy breeds, but there are certain qualities, which they should possess. The present-day show bird is not too big. The keel should not he too deep, nor too long, and should incline upwards towards the vent; it should be straight, without bends or lumps. The bird should have plenty of flesh, and should be what fanciers’ term, ‘apple-bodied’. The back should be firm and flat, and have no dip near the root of the tail. On no account should the tail go up when the bird is handled. When the bird is held, the wings should not stick up and the pigeon should feel perfectly balanced. The wing, when opened, should be even. This evenness of wing is one of the showman’s requirements although in my opinion, it is not the best shape for a racer. The ideal wing, from an aerodynamic point of view, should have short secondaries, a step from the secondaries to the first primary, and the last four primaries should be as long as possible. Many of my own best racers have had a distinct step from the last secondary to the first primary. This point has been referred to previously in chapter 9.

The show racer therefore should have an even wing, with the web of the flights (primaries) wide and strong although, here again, the question of the width of flights is one on which the racing man and the showman could cross swords, especially as regards the last four flights. The secondaries and coverts should cover the back well, and the primaries should finish no more than an inch from time end of the tail. The tail feathers should be strong, even, and spotlessly clean. Neither the wing nor the tail feathers should have ‘fret-marks’, or ‘pin-holes’. These ‘pin-holes’ are very small holes, which appear in the wing and tail feathers of the pigeon. They do not, however, detract from the bird’s flying ability.

The legs should be short and well set, free from feather, and clean, but not washed so that they show bright red. The head should be strong, and broad between the eves.

The eyes themselves should be set low in the head and of deep colour and the eye-cere should be smooth, not too big, and as white as possible. The wattle should be small, neat and snowy-white; the neck should be on the short thick side. The bird should be alert, and should adopt a slightly crouching position in the pen, that is, it should have a good stance.

Whatever the colour of the bird, it should be good - not wishy-washy. Blues and mealies should have good broad bars; chequers should be even and clean, not smoky. Birds with a lot of pied are not usually favourites with judges. Above all, the bird must he spotlessly clean, show plenty of bloom, and must he absolutely free from feather lice.

The fancier who wishes to be successful in major shows must pander to the fads of each particular judge, and the only way to do this is to go to all the leading shows and make a note of the colour and type of those birds, which have won prizes. In this way, an index can be kept on each of the prominent judges. When the names of the judges for any particular show are published, the fancier can then enter any of his birds which have previously won under that judge, or he can endeavour to select birds which correspond as nearly as possible to the type.

Faults, which will count against the bird in the show pen, are: dirty feathers, feather lice, broken flights, dents in the keel, hollow back, long legs, long neck, frill or lines on the neck feathers, a dip between the beak and head behind the wattle, shortage of wing-cover feathers over the back, parrot beak, large rough wattle, eyes near the top of the head, fret-marks or (worse) pin-holes in the tail feathers and flights, wildness in the pen or in the hand, broken or different eyes and a long tail.

Many racing pigeon fanciers do not show their birds except in their local club shows, organised during the close season, preferring to concentrate their energies on racing. Here are a few simple rules for these fanciers: see that the birds are clean and free from lice, and any bent flights should be straightened in the steam from the spout of a kettle of boiling water. The condition of the birds which are to be shown can be improved by putting them in a basket the night before the show, then the next day into a nest-box on their own with food and water until lunch-time. Then they can be put back in the basket until the evening show. This helps to preserve the bloom.

The basket should be kept in a warm place, and care must be taken to ensure that a basket with compartments is not damp, for damp sides will take off all the bloom. The birds should be alert and in perfect condition and, finally, always remember that the best bird in the world will not win unless it is fit and clean.

Used with permisson. © RPRA.

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