by Clint Robertson
As some say "the only thing for certain in life is nothing stays the same". In the case of the Jacobin this is a good thing as we see the modern show type Jacobin of today is a much different bird than even the best stock of tenyears ago and a completely different bird from those of the mid 1950's and earlier. Over the past 100 years, through selective breeding and close attention to the standard, the Jacobin has evolved from a short thick bird with a rather lazy show stance and only marginal feather length to a tall, refined bird with sharp outlines and dramatic contrasts from narrow necklines to beautiful extended chains and upper manes. The feather development on the Jacobin in the chain, mane and hood area has always been the defining characteristic of the breed. So it is only logical that breeders concentrated on these features in the early years to further enhance and set the breed apart. The North American standard that we follow today has been widely accepted around the world as the direction most breeders want to take the breed. Although other standards tend to emphasize just the features from the shoulders up, the North American Standard takes the entire bird to the next level by including the smaller details like body, wing, neck length, and carriage in addition to feather structure, colour and markings. When a bird puts all this together it takes on a new character and is what I and many others now refer to as the modern show type Jacobin. The best birds of yesterday had great feather quality, heavy manes and great volume of feather. What they also had was short, thick bodies, short necks, poor carriage and heavy wings and these are things that are simply not accepted today. Another undesirable trait they had was that the heavy manes tended to fall down the birds back partly because the bird's neck was too short and partly because the structure of the mane was wrong. We have now evolved beyond that. Just imagine the best of everything. That is what the standard calls for. Today's best Jacobins have great feather quality and wealth with nice thick manes carried well up off the back on long necks. Long chains that extend well out in front of the face with hard tight fitting feather is also a feature that has changed dramatically in recent years. Correct hood settings with added top feather is another feature that has improved. However the features that have set the modern show type Jacobin in an entirely new class is vastly improved station with legs that will lock in at the hocks allowing the best show bird to push up off its toes for maximum stretch, combined with a narrower wing and longer more slender body and longer neck. The whip in effect that is so sought after is then enhanced by these features allowing for the extremely narrow neck line with feather radiating upwards and outwards from that point to the widest point of the area across the eye in profile. The bird pushing up on its toes then gives that up, up, up effect and gives the bird the bold look of class and elegance. Just think about posture for a second. We are taught from an early age to stand up straight and tall to command respect. In school, in the army, anything less than good posture is frowned upon. People respect good posture and so it is with our Jacobin. That is the point to which we have come today. A Jacobin that stands tall in the judging pen is a sight to behold. In my loft this is the first feature I select for. This allows me the foundation to build from. However we still have much work to do. I have little patience for the fanciers who constantly refer to the great birds from the past and how they would be impressive even today. The birds of the past are dinosaurs. We have come so far but we still have so far to go.