Page 134 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 134

                Form Follows
Let’s Talk Side Gait – One Stride at A Time BY STEPHANIE HEDGEPATH
The best way to determine the structure and condition of a dog is to observe the dog in motion from the side. A dog in top condition with firm muscles will present the truest proof of structure. Dogs that are flabby or weak will show some of the basics, but will have wasted motion even if the dog’s struc-
ture is excellent. The skeletal structure of a dog is to be compared to a blueprint for a building. The basics are there, but there is much more to be considered before you have a complete picture.
The Field Spaniel illustrations represent the average dog. The Field Spaniel is described as “a well balanced dog, somewhat longer than tall. The ratio of length to height is approximately 7:6. (Length is measured on a level from the foremost point of the shoulder to the rearmost point of the buttocks.)” Figure 1. depicts the dog standing and is the position from which we will start our analysis of the trot. Please note that the line under the dog represents the ground. The illustrations below show the first half of one complete stride. The trot is defined in the AKC Glossary of Terms as “a rhythmic two-beat diagonal gait in which the feet at diagonally opposite ends of the body strike the ground together.” In his excellent book, An Eye For A Dog, Robert Cole points out that “official descriptions of the trot fail to mention that in addition to diagonal feet striking the ground at the same time, the diagonal feet must relinquish support at the same time.” There must always be balance in motion.
PHASE 1. As a dog breaks into a trot, the shoulder blade rotates forward and the right foreleg begins its forward swing. The right foreleg is lifted from the ground a split second ahead of the left hind leg for the swinging phase of this phase. The elbow joint angle closes, lifting the foreleg and the pastern joint closes and lifts the paw up and back. The left foreleg serves as the striking (or support) leg and begins to act as the supporting leg for the body as it is propelled forward over the body by the right striking hind leg.
Figure 1. Field Spaniel – An Average Dog (Phase 0) Figure 2. Phase 1

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