Review of the Dutch Year - 2009.
As usual, the first big event of the year was the Bradford Championship Show. The entry of Dutch was rather small but quality made up for quantity with Wilmot Goldsworthy's Black boar doing very well in the adult classes under judge Don Payne and impressing sufficiently to win the first challenge and then take 2nd place in the Non Self Adult Challenge to a Nikki Matthews Alpaca. No mean achievement. In the Intermediate classes, a smart Chocolate Dutch shown by Julie Davies prevailed and pleased judge, Ian Reynolds enough to be placed in the duplicates. Only one u/5 months exhibit, an entry from Malcolm Atkinson but a two day show plus travel time can be an ordeal for young stock and, consequently, a disincentive to several exhibitors.
The Dutch Cavy Club's show programme for 2009 kicked off at Birmingham with the Midland Area Show. Top northern judge, Malcolm Atkinson attracted an entry of 52 Dutch and that was good for an area where there a few Dutch exhibitors. K & L Stud took advantage of a DCC show in the locality to show their stock and won with Silver and Golden Agouti Dutch. New member, Kevin Hopkins broke into the show scene here and won with a Red 5/8 mths boar. The Adult Red Sow class of seven attracted two future champions with Sarah Stribley's Treleaver Ruby just getting the edge over the entry from Razzamatazz Stud. Best Dutch though went to Wilmot's Black boar, Lucky Strike, another later to become a DCC Champion with Alan Wilson's Red 5/8 mths sow taking the runner up slot.
If the midland area can be short on Dutch breeders, so can the North as the DCC Northern Area show held at the prestigious Yorkshire Cavy Club's annual show at Keighley, attracted only 43 Dutch. I say only but that is still good considering that only two of the Dutch shown were from northern studs with the remaining entries coming from South of Watford. I don't know what we can do to build a stronger Dutch following in the North and sadly the departed fanciers of old have yet to be replaced by new members whether young or old.
Keighley is a show that I really like and I try to support it whenever I have anything worth showing. Kim Holmes heads the admin team on the cavy side of matters and she is normally ably assisted by Olwen Fletcher so there should be no fear of problems with the paperwork. Peter Gammie did the honours here for the DCC classes with Brian Leiper officiating on the Yorkshire CC side of matters. Both judges went for the same pigs with Razzamatazz Stud's Red sow, Celandine taking Best Dutch whilst Sarah Stribley's Golden Agouti Treleaver Gibby took Best AOC Dutch. In the Yorkshire classes, Brian had these two pigs 1st and 2nd in the Challenge AOV Non Self Adult class so one could not wish for better consistency.
May saw the problematic Specialist Show for Joan hosted at Fareham and although some breeds were well supported, it rather failed to capture the interest of DCC members. As a result, only 26 Dutch were entered. The judge here was Graham Godfrey as yours truly was indisposed on the day and a nice young Chocolate Dutch shown by Amy Heale took the eye and won Best Dutch.
Also being staged during May was the DCC South West Area Show with Stuart Inch doing the honours. A total of 28 lined up for his inspection; not a spectacular entry but perhaps an indictment that one can have too many shows, too close together, a situation that results in divided support as only two exhibitors Razzamatazz Stud and Kevin Hopkins entered both shows. One non-member here with winning ways (u/5mth Black class) was Luke Holmes and it would be nice if, in 2010, he re-joined to swell the ranks of members and, more specifically, the Holmes clan as we already have two in Kim and Fred. Wilmot Goldsworthy once again took Best in Show with her Black boar whilst Best Sow went to a promising young Red shown by Razzamatazz Stud.
June saw Alan Wilson make his club show debut by officiating at East Hanningfield, Essex for the DCC Southern Area Show. Here, a total of 55 Dutch line up for his attention with quite a good spread of colours on show. For the first time in the year, Cinnamon and Chocolate Agouti Dutch made a stock show appearance with Madelaine Coomber and M & J Mckay being the exhibitors responsible. Chocolate Dutch were rather thin on the ground with the only entry receiving the No Award treatment. Stops were apparently the problem and my only adult entry understandingly got the same treatment although this time it was for too little rather than too much length of stop. I had entered a lovely near miss Red boar that was good in all departments except stops that were so short on one stop as to carry a coloured nail.
Such a situation demands immediate disqualification although not all judges are seemingly aware of the matter as I have heard through the grapevine of a nice Black Dutch example, cursed with a similar failing, actually getting Best Boar at a show. Judges please check with the standard to ensure that any similar mishaps don't occur in the future. If anyone wonders why I entered such a pig, it was simply to show the world of my misfortune/frustration and also to compare his colour with others on view.
Subsequent to the show, I did hear an undercurrent of concern over some of Alan's critical observations on condition and cleanliness. The thoughts were along the lines that stating such facts in public put the Club/breed in a bad light. However, provided the critique is fair comment, I would suggest that it is more the exhibitor than the judge that is giving the breed a bad press.
In this respect, a surprising number of exhibit were penalised for bitten ears. Whilst this may be a case of bad luck at birth through an over-vigorous mother, it can also reflect on stock management. Reg Lodge in his Cavy Corner column did speculate that the cause is through insufficient food bowls and one pig gripping a pen mate by the ears and wresting it out of the way. Overcrowding or just sticking some boars together without too much worry about the outcome are other possibilities. In this respect, I can recall Joan Radeglia complaining about Norman Stennett doing well with a Cinnamon Agouti that possessed ragged ears. She felt that a show exhibit should have a decent pair of ears whatever the relevance within the respective breed standard.
Best Dutch was awarded to Saracen Stud's adult Black boar, a pig that had been knocking on the door for some time and one that excels stops for a Black Dutch. Graham Godfrey's Silver Agouti took the runner up spot and I suspect was a close second as it certainly took the judge's eye and was reported as 'Very nice pig shown in good condition and well bodied'. Saracen Stud also took 3rd place with an u/5mths Red boar that earned the praise of being the 'Best red coloured pig today.'
The North East Area Show was held at Crook in July and could only muster a disappointing entry of 12 Dutch. So poor was this response that it was not felt worthwhile or cost effective for the appointed judge to officiate. As result, the Club was very grateful to NCC judge Roy Wearmouth for standing in and doing the honours. This show saw the reappearance of Sue Hearn's champion sow, Cousin Jenny and although her charm and class ensured that she did well in the entertaining Anglo-Scottish classes (runner up Best Non Self), two promising Intermediates shown by Kim Holmes (Golden Agouti) and Malcolm Atkinson (Black) took the top two spots in the DCC Show. As an experienced rabbit man, Roy is well aware of the finer points in Dutch and a run into the smellers just held her back in the DCC Grand Challenge.
The matter of cheeks running into the smellers (nose and whisker bed) has apparently caused some consternation at a show elsewhere as it seems the fault was even thought bad enough for disqualification to be considered. It certainly is a fault but hardly sufficient to command such an inquisition and definitely not bad enough to warrant disqualification being contemplated.
With both Amy Heale and myself holding judging engagements at The London Championship Show this year, Dutch and Reds in particular were rather sparse in number (despite a total entry of 876 pigs) but there were still as few nice examples on view with Sarah Stribley's champion Treleaver Gibby taking Best Adult Dutch and Wilmot Goldsworthy matching Sarah's achievements in the Intermediate classes with a smart Black Dutch.
The Margaret Elward Memorial Show at Norton Lindsey in October was undoubtedly the highlight of the year with Kevin Lidbetter being provided with a bumper entry of 84 Dutch to judge. The show also saw an invasion from the USA with fanciers, Nancy Laity and Mr And Mrs Lewis in attendance. Bob and Caroline Lewis had fitted the show into their holiday itinerary but Nancy was here on a bulk buying extravaganza. Several Dutch and I believe a few other breeds left UK shores for America including Champion Treleaver Ruby that was later to be awarded Best Dutch at the big ARBA Annual Convention Show. Well done to new owner, Nancy and UK breeder Sarah Stribley.
With such a good entry, there was a good mixture of colours for everyone to see with the biggest entry being in the Golden Agouti Adult class (11) duly won by Sarah Stribley's champion boar. Come the challenges though, the outlook was black for every colour except Black as all the Any Colour age group classes (Adult, 5/8mths & u/5mths) were won by Black Dutch with Wilmot Goldsworthy taking the adult and 5/8mths challenges and Crazy Cavies winning best youngster. Gary Clark (Saracen Stud) was able to split the Goldsworthy pigs in the Grand Challenge but it was with his noted Black boar!
Taking the Reserve (4th) spot was the champion Silver Agouti sow, Nina of Palace Cavies that, today, was able to reverse Essex form with Graham Godfrey's smart boar. I was impressed with the latter at East Hanningfield in June and although it didn't look in quite the same order at Norton Lindsey, it still excelled in the host classes and there is very little between these pigs that are two of the best examples of Silver Agouti Dutch to be seen for some time.
The final show of the year was the Club's Annual Stock Show at Yardley Hastings, a very pretty village near Northampton. Madelaine Coomber did the honours and members provided an entry of 61 Dutch for her to sort out. This time, Graham Godfrey's Silver Agouti boar triumphed in the breed class and went on to feature prominently in the challenges although, again, Wilmot Goldsworthy was successful and took Best Dutch, this time with her 5/8mths Black boar. In fact, boars did rather dominate the challenges although Alan Wilson did well with his adult Red sow and proved best of her gender on the day.
Something that concerned Madelaine at this event was the poor size of the Golden Agouti Dutch on show. A factor for breeders to consider, act upon and remedy. Another observation concerned the temperament of the younger Reds and it should be remembered that the BCC guidelines state that Good Temperament is a highly desirable quality in the show exhibit. I regret that my winning 5/8mths boar was no exception as he rather went into panic mode on the day. Strange as he is normally fairly sane but perhaps my recent 'tough handling' had traumatised him a bit as I've had to cure mouth scabs; an annoying affliction that I hadn't experienced previously in my stock.
The year had been a good year for the registering of DCC champions with Razzamatazz Stud's Red sow, Celandine making it a four timer as champion. An impressive achievement with only Sarah Stribley's champion sow, Treleaver Ruby mounting any serious challenge in the Red classes and, sometimes, prevailing. Very much a matter of opinion on which was best and as both pigs have now departed the UK show scene for different reasons, which Red breeder will prosper in 2010 is open to speculation since the competition is wide open.
As has been the case in most recent years, stock shown by Wilmot Goldsworthy dominated in the Black classes and took Best Dutch at four stock shows this year. Sue Hearn was able to avoid such competition at Crook and obtained the final, needed win to make Cousin Jenny a double champion. Indeed, the standard of Black Dutch remains as good as ever.
Chocolate Dutch have been certainly dropped in number this year although Amy Heale's youngster triumphed at the Specialist Club Spectacular. I missed this event through illness and the best I have seen in 2009 was a very useful adult shown by Julie Davies at the Epsom show in July. Admittedly, this pig is short on stops but it looked well and was nicely balanced. Lilacs were conspicuous by their absence whilst nothing particularly dominated the Cream classes. Stuart Inch had his fair share of wins, Alan Wilson had a fairly quiet year and Graham Godfrey chipped in with two decent wins.
In Golden Agouti Dutch, there was little to challenge Sarah Stribley's champion, Treleaver Gibby although Kim Holmes must have a very promising prospect in the intermediate sow that triumphed at Crook in July taking Best Dutch in the stock show. If these two meet at Keighley in April 2010, it will be very interesting to see which one comes out on top.
Palace Stud registered their 2008 ASS Best Dutch winning Silver Agouti sow, Nina as a champion although, at two shows during the year, this pig has had to settle with second best against Graham Godfrey's more than useful boar. Surely this is a vintage period for this colour; a fact that cannot be said about the other Agouti colours of Cinnamon, Cream and Chocolate. Madelaine Coomber (Cinnamons), Stuart Inch (Cream) and J & M Mckay plus Madelaine again (Chocolate) have done their best to ensure that something is brought out before the judge at three of the shows. There is plenty of opportunity for anyone to succeed in any of these three colours.
Now that the Chocolate Agouti is a fully standardised colour, the New Colour class was only utilised at two shows with a single entry; Lemon Agouti on both occasions I believe. Forgive me if I don't feel very enthusiastic about these offerings but I would guess that these examples could very easily pass for Cream Agouti with poor slate-like undercolour. Number-wise, entries were on average down on 2008 (av. 58) as the shows in 2009 only averaged 44 per show. Whether this was because of the recession, the lack of prize money or some other factor, one can only speculate but I hope it will be only a blip and that 2010 will see the Club Shows once again attracting bigger entries.
A major success of the year must also be the good work put in by Lynn Regan to construct and maintain the Dutch Cavy Club website as it is proving to be such a great asset to the Club. On the downside was the disappointment of the Club's AGM and the resultant resignation of Chris Peachey as secretary. Chris has put in a serious lot of effort and work into the Club since she took over the reins from me. Thanks Chris for all that you have done over recent years. Hopefully, we will soon be able to find another willing workhorse to continue where Chris left off and keep the DCC moving forward.