Elusive and Exclusive Ibizan Hound Movement
Please let me introduce myself as your new AKC Gazette columnist. I am a foundation breeder of Ibizans. I received my first Ibizan from the Prue estate back in 1973. My lifetime goal in this breed is to preserve and perpetuate the old Belmonte bloodline from out of the island of Majorca (Spanish and Catalan: Mallorca).
I've been asked by many fanciers in the breed to speak of movement. Of course my first impulse was to describe the exhibition trot which is seen in the show ring. But one cannot understand this aspect without consideration of the very construction, purpose, and nature of the beast. My dad used to recite a silly poem to me about a frog, which I will paraphrase.
A strange old bird
Is [an Ibizan], almost
For when he jump
He fly, almost.
The Ibizan is very much a gazehound, but it does not course the open fields and moors of England but instead hunts on rocky, bushy slopes of the Balearic Islands and Spain. They are ever agile, twisting and turning, while using amazing leaps for pursuit and reconnaissance. When an Ibizan goes airborne it pulls its legs up and almost hovers. This action is not unlike the "airs above the ground" performed by the Lipizzaner horse.
The shoulder attachment is much more flexible than in other breeds. This special flexibility can be demonstrated when a dog is at rest and in certain positions a hand can be placed right under the shoulder blade along the ribs back from the spine. With this sort of loose attachment to the shoulders it is imperative that the Ibizan is kept in top athletic condition. The more sinewy and typey the dog is the more sloppy movement will become if the dog has no muscle condition.
When hiking over rough terrain Ibizans rarely injure themselves as do the flat-out running breeds. Ibizans have a higher action, a "pick'em up and put'em down" with an unselfconscious precision! I love to see the bouncing puppy, the one that takes the length of the yard in a series bounding leaps. This springy quality is so unique to the breed. If we should lose this most particular aspect we will lose the very essence of breed type.
An Ibizan should move with neck arched and head up which is particular to their hunting style. This posture helps with sighting of prey in heavy cover and also shows a lively attitude in the dog. An Ibizan will not show proper lift while moving if its head is down. However, this does not mean that the dog should be strung-up for showing.
So how does this unique structure and hunting style translate into the show trot? Ibizans move with a distinctive light, elastic, springy, floating trot. It should look effortless, not powerful. The Ibizan is not a power driver. The Ibizan's rear drive is moderate. Lift should not be above the parallel and there should be good extension. Even with moderate angulation the Ibizan reaches forward because of the flexibility in the shoulders. There has been a tendency in the past to push for longer body dogs because they can get away with less-than-perfection in foot placement. The Ibizan is not a long-bodied dog. The Ibizan single tracks at a trot, with one foot in front of the other. The hocks do not bend inward. Pasterns are strong with a slight slope and are very flexible. Upright pasterns have no give or shock absorbing ability. This flexibility is absolutely not an excuse for sloppiness. The whole aspect of a happy and sound Ibizan should take your breath away! I once had a little girl in the park exclaim, "Look Mommy, that dog moves like a fairy!"
The greatest pleasure of living with Ibizans is watching them in action. An Ibizan in a highly confined area is as sad as an eagle is in a parrot cage. You will never get ultimate performance in body, mind, and movement without almost unlimited exercise in a safely enclosed enriched environment. An environment with trees, bushes, and obstacles to run around and leap over. Having the proper environment is particularly true during the growth period.
So take them around one more time, please!