Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shoulder Placement for Novices Like Me!

Well, shoot, I couldn't figure out why this post did not show up. It was posted in chronological order on the created date, which was 11/5. Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm a Blogger remedial!!!

Um, so I created this post on 11/5/08, but was waiting to get permission from Norma to share what she taught me. This is similar to other posts and lines drawn, but one more important and EASY way to see the shoulder placement is the line at the lowest point of the chest. you should NOT see the lowest point of the chest in a Cardigan, it should basically be hidden by the elbows.

On request, I am posting something that was taught to me, but this time with real pictures (no more stick figure dog drawings!). I have the privilege of having some really fantastic mentors, and I get to spend time with my friend Norma Chandler, who is very generous in sharing information to help me learn more and more about Cardigans. The history and knowledge of the breed that Norma has in her head is fascinating. She has shown me photo albums from national specialties back in the early 70's, and she knows all the people, and all the dogs. The photos are not labelled, Norma just remembers all the details.

So, anywho... reading the standard and listening to people talk about Cardigans is one thing. But putting that into practice in looking at dogs is different for me. If I'm watching a dog in the ring, or looking at photos, what can I look for to give me a clue about how a dog is put together?

One of my favorite little tidbits that Norma has shared with me is about shoulder placement, and how to look at shoulder placement and guesstimate the length of upper arm. I'll demonstrate using a couple of photos. But keep in mind I had trouble putting the lines in exactly the right place, so they may be off a hair or two! Hopefully it'll give the right idea, though!

OK, as taught to me and others by Norma... a profile photo is all you need to get a first impression. The shoulders should be in line with the point where the neck blends into the topline. If you draw a line perpendicular to the ground at the point where the neck meets/blends with the topline, the line should go through the elbow of the front leg. And, if you draw a line parallel to the ground that just touches the lowest point of the chest, that line should intersect with the perpendicular line again near the elbow of the dog. The lowest part of the chest should be hidden by the front legs, and should not be visible further back beyond the front legs. If a dog can crank their head back over their shoulders, then the shoulder placement can't be right.

I'll use Bree as an example, because I have a recent photo of her, and it is in direct profile, not at an angle. Plus, she's my dog, so I can post her out here, with the good and bad. And again, you'll have to excuse the lines being a little "off" because I'm remedial with drawing the lines. but you can imagine them where they should be!
The second parallel line going across the chest is supposed to be at the prosternum, but well, I didn't quite get the line there! What Norma taught me is that you want the point of the prosternum to be higher, and when you draw a line across, that gives you an estimate on the length of the upper arm. When the point of the prosternum is low, and sometimes even seems to be pointing down, then the upper arm is likely very short. With this photo of Bree, you can literally see her shoulder assembly. Something about the reds, you can almost see under the fur! So you can see the upper arm and layback of the shoulder, and maybe that will help in seeing how the prosternum correlates to the length of the upper arm. Bree's upper arm is not as long as I would like it to be.

Even in young puppies, I could see the shoulder placement on the litter I raised (syd and bree), even though there isn't really a "lowest" part of the chest yet. :-)

So, when I see photos of Cardigans, that's the first thing I look at, since the front is really the hallmark of the breed. Of course, shoulder placement is just one part of the front, but I think an important part of the entire front assembly. At my house, Uncle Gizmo has the absolute best shoulder placement of all my Cardigans. But, well, if you've seen him from the front, well, 'nuff said. His turnout starts from the pasterns, and not just acceptable turnout of the foot. It's definitely not correct, and it's, um, pretty extreme! But we love him anyway. :-)

Well, that's it from here. Standard disclaimer is that I'm a novice, and love to learn more about Cardigans. I have learned so much from my conversations with Norma, sometimes we agree, and sometimes we disagree, but it's always a learning experience. Hope you've enjoyed a long-distance rendition of one of my favorite little tools, compliments of Norma.