Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Shoulders - An Evaluation of English Angora Type

When evaluating the English Angora, the shoulder is the first thing that a judge will feel, and therefore, good shoulders are a way to make a good first impression.  The two main things I look for on a shoulder are:

 1)  The shoulder should be nice and wide.  A wide shoulder will fill up your hand when you feel it. 
2)  High Depth of Shoulder.    In other words I want the shoulder to be very high and to be only slightly lower than the highest point of the body. 

Width of Shoulder.  Width is  very important but self explanatory.  Feel the shoulder.  Is your hand having to stretch out to encompass the shoulder's length?  If so, good, you have wide shoulders.  when, after placing your hand on the shoulder and moving it to feel the outline of the body, do your fingers go out after leaving the shoulder?  If yes, your shoulder is probably weak.   A good wide shoulder will be at minimum four inches in length across in an adult.  More important than the actual measurement, the width of the shoulder should match the width of the rest of the body.  Some people worry about shoulders being too long.  I do not worry about trying to evaluate length of shoulder, because if your shoulders are wide and your body is short, you will have a shoulder of acceptable length.

Depth of Shoulder.  Height, or depth, of the shoulder to me is very important. When I was really trying to improve this area of my body type, I would actually measure the height of the shoulder behind the neck and select those for breeding that were highest.  My ideal rabbit in this respect that allowed me to get great depth (a doe that Deb in Minnesota bred and graciously parted with), was a rabbit whom the judges could not stop raving about in respect to body type,  The height behind the shoulder was seven inches high, even though she was very petite.  Her shoulder is the high point on her body, and then she curves very round like a quarter of a basketball, through to the floor.  Now, she has passed this wonderful depth on to her children, and grandchildren (and soon great grandchildren)

Some lines of English angoras are nice and solid, but have shoulders that start kind of low.  This lower shoulder is not necessarily wrong depending on your interpretation of the standard of perfection and if that body style is preferred by the judges in your area.  You produce what you and your local judges desire, not what other people like.    The high depth of shoulder feels best to me, and also helps with the judges perception that you have nice full shoulders– as you recall, our type has to be impressive from a sensory standpoint.  For me, the shoulder will not quite be as high as the high point of the body, but it will be close.  When I go to feel the shoulder, I want it to be right there, I do not want to go down to far in the wool to find it as in my view, the higher shoulder just feels better from a sensory standpoint.   

Good luck with evaluating your shoulders!  When deciding what you want your shoulders to look like, it is important that you choose what you think makes a nice animal and what you think feels best.  It is your herd and your breeding is your expression of what the perfect English Angora should look like.  This is why when I describe what I want, it isnt exactly using words verbatim from the standard, as the standard is at times ambiguous and open to interpretation.  I am describing merely what feels good to me based on my interpretation of the standard and also of my view of what the English Angora should look like.


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