What do Judges look for?
MOVEMENT is the most important quality in assessing a hound’s conformation. Good movement allows a hound to cover many miles per week repeatedly throughout the season. Physical points that help are heart room with deep ribs to the point of the elbow, sloping shoulders, an ‘engine room’, good legs and feet.
SHOULDERS. These should be sloping not straight. This allows a longer stride for movement uninterrupted by too wide a rib cage.
HINDQUARTERS ‘the engine room’. Length of hip and hock produces speed. The spine and pelvis are the ‘drive shaft’ between front and rear. Muscle either side of the spine should cover the backbone, The hindquarters should swing outside the front when the hound gallops.
LEGS AND FEET should be relatively straight but not excessively so with compact feet showing even wear. Knees should not buckle over but the reverse is acceptable as a ‘shock absorber’.
What else do the Judges look for?
A good moving hound lengthens his stride effortlessly to increase pace whereas in a bad mover the stride is jerky. Watch hounds gallop across the ring and count the strides. See how effortlessly the ground is covered by the good mover. A sign of balance is when a hound appears free in motion but stands with equal weight on all four feet. Refinements which catch the eye are length of neck which complements the shoulder and no exaggerated roach of the spine. The stern (tail) should be well set on its end rather than ‘curly’ - bent over. Hound colour should not be a factor. Hounds should be in muscular not fat condition and be happy and confident in strange conditions. Much time is necessary to prepare hounds for showing and the season ahead. Watch how the Huntsman handles his charges and the person on the end of the leads is of particular importance. Unlike a dog show the Huntsman producing the hounds does not handle or lead his exhibits — they must be shown loose with only his assistant (the whipper-in) holding the leads. Considerable skill is needed to show hounds.