August 29, 2017


Submitted by Tom Fremont

As we prepare for our first National Racing Pigeon Show here in Minnesota, I feel compelled to write about some basics and offer some tips that might help our guest fanciers in preperation.

First, Why do we show ? Our pigeons are truly beautiful creatures created by God. They bring us much joy as we love and care for them day after day. Who could argue that a Racing Pigeon in full bloom, manifesting perfect health and condition is not a thing of beauty. So why not ‘Showcase’ the most beautiful pigeons you own ? I think for some of us it is a prefectly natural pastime to aspire to.

Remember it is strictly for fun and fellowship (and a few bragging rights) with other likeminded fanciers who enjoy this aspect of the hobby. However in this Show there is $2,500.00 on the line for our big winners !! Another important thought to keep in mind is that in any given show only one will rise to the peak as Grand Champion. The Class winners and Reserves are also very esteemed and you should be proud of those results as well. Even if your pigeon is not chosen on a given day it is important that YOU like your pigeon, and at the end of the day that is all that really matters. My first show was in Denver Colorado in 1983. I brought in one pigeon and took 3rd place. The following year I brought in two or three..and eventually got hooked, and would continue to aspire for that elusive ‘Grand Champion Prize’. When I eventually moved back to my home state of Minnesota in 1987 I continued to show in the off season. I was fortunate to have a beautiful family of Fabry’s that seemed to score at will. One of the highlights in my showing career was winning all eight trophies and sweeping every class in the entire show. Over the years I managed to win about 25 Grand Champion victories, with well over 100 first place class wins. I won National Grand Champion at the Kansas Classic National two years running, winning a grand total of $2,200.00. It was in Kansas where I met the incomparable Show Master himself Freddie Rivera. Freddie offered a program for me to become an AU Certified Judge…under Freddie’s guidance I passed the tests and became certified in 2009, and I still serve in that capacity today.

It was the Show in Kansas that inspired me to start another National AU Sanctioned show here in the flying and racing mecca of the ‘Twin City Metro Area of Minnesota. I believe this area of the Country is perhaps one of the premier ‘Hotbeds’ of pigeon racing in the entire USA. The growth and expansion is exciting, and quite literally taking the Country by storm. I shared my vision with two close pigeon friends Dennis Kuhn ( Owner of Pigeon Supplies Plus) and Gary Meis (Owner of the National Fall Classic One Loft Race) and we expanded the idea with our perspective clubs, (the Tri-state Racers, and the Midwest Navigators) and came up with the ‘Northern Lights National Show and Auction for 2017. ….. Please go to our Web-Site for all the information regarding this up and coming event !! .. So there you have a glimpse of our vision and hopes for this to be the biggest and greatest Racing Pigeon Show in North America.

​Now I’d like to share with you some of the basic ideas and tips on show preparation. With over 34 years of showing and judging experience, I was hoping this writing would be a source of help and perhaps a little inspiration for you to join us next November in Minnesota…. (Again check out our Web-site for all of the details…)

* Feather Quality … You are looking for a feather that is soft and supple, yet tight as a drum at the same time. I liken it a Shield of Armor. A Grand Champion will have almost flawless feathering. Of course the iridescent feathers …especially in the neck and breast area should beam, and shine like the sun. Super health and condition in a pigeon is what brings this about. When you pull out the wing the flights should be symmetrical and lay perfectly balanced against each other. The tail should appear as almost one feather, and be in balance with the size of the pigeon as a whole…not too long and not too short.

* Muscle … Muscle tone and muscle suppleness is a very closely related concept. When you handle a pigeon you should never feel a deep or protuding keel bone. You should never feel saggy or loose vents. You should never feel a large gap inbetween the end of the keel and the beginning of the vent bones. From the time you run your hand at the top of the chest along the entire surface of the breast to the end of the vents it should all feel even and as one smooth surface. The muscle of the pigeon should be evident and supple.. you want to feel the suppleness of the muscle as opposed the the bone structure. I like to feel the muscle that surrounds the keel slightly protruding on either side of the keel…where you have to press slightly to actually feel the keel bone. Similar to humans a flexed muscle feels quite different then a muscle at rest. The breast muscle mass is the core of the pigeons strength. It is the resource where the energy for flight is stored. It is also a very important aspect of a Judges choice when determining a champion pigeon in a show. Keep in mind that a solid and supple pectorial (breast) muscle also indicates that every other muscle in the pigeon will be the same. Remember that a jusge is looking at the total package of a pigeon…not just one or two strong elements. This is why it is extremely difficult to win a Grand Champion award … because the pigeon must possess many strong attributes to capture that elusive prize !!

​* Bouyancy … bouyancy is all about air. The bouyancy effect or feeling resides within the bone structure of the pigeon. Remember this .. a pigeon with “large bones” is a very good thing … Why ? ( When I use the term “Large” …think of a straw) a larger straw is bigger has more air inside to funnel through. A “smaller straw is…well … smaller around and there is much less air that can reside within. Note : I’m not referring to longer or shorter. Most of the bones in our pigeons are hollow. The more space that can be filled with air will result in bouyancy … which creates the effect of a light and weightless pigeon. This is a very positive attribute when showing a pigeon, and a good judge will pick up on this immediatly. Honestly the pigeon is really not any lighter …but it feels that way. No matter the size of the pigeon I want to feel a larger and more bouyant bone structure. Note: This is also a great attribute in racing as well ! Note … if you find a strong keel bone, and strong vent bones that fits the description above … then rest assured the rest of the bones in that pigeon will also fit the bill !!

* Balance … Again we’re not necessarily talking about the actual size of the pigeon, but no matter the size, the pigeon must possess balance and conformity within it’s own framework. Note : Generally speaking a pigeon that is a size ‘7’ on a scale from 1 thru 10 is a desirable size in the show pen. Of course it can vary on either end..but you certainly do not want an extremely large pigeon, or an extremely small pigeon (male or female). Every aspect of the pigeon must come together as one entity from the tip of it’s toes to the tip of it’s beak. Every aspect of the pigeon must have cemetrical balance. IE … the wings and tail not too long or short for the body… the legs and neck not too tall or short … It is here that I would like to incorperate some pic’s that might give you a better idea of this concept.

​* The “look” There are pigeons that if they could talk they might say, I’m perfect, I’m confident, I’m not afraid of the competition here, I’ve got my act together. It’s the way they stand very proud in their shield of armor. They almost have a glow about them, that a good judge simply cannot turn down…the judge knows immediatly they will be in the running,,,they simply stand out from the rest. also they have a distinct look that shows intelligence.

* The Eye .. I’m not talking eye-sign here … I’m talking about a rich colorful dominant eye. An eye that can look right through you when you observe the pigeon up close. An eye that is balanced and set well within the framework of the pigeon. Try and stay away from over grown eye seres, that detract from the appearance in a show. You can see intelligence and savvy in the eye of the pigeon … The eye should always be perfectly clear. A washed out looking eye will be a detriment in any show.

* The Back .. A strong and smooth back is a must. I believe most judges prefer a slightly wider back with a nice feather covering that emanates from the wings. A strong back will have a slight curve (downwards) from wing to wing. A strong back will show strength from the base of the neck all the way down to the tip of the tail also showing a slight curve (downwards) You never want to feel a hollow spot or a depression inward. The tail will not tip up, but rather hold it’s strength …always … in a slightly downward angle. EDITOR’S NOTE : I’ve heard it said that weak backs with the tail flipping up shows flexibility ?? The back is the core of strength in flight ..a strong back will always indicate that the pigeon will have great strength and stability in flight !! There are muscles in the back of a pigeon. Along with the solid frame we spoke about …these muscles also come into play with the strength and stability of the pigeon.

* The Head .. Of course it must be in balance with the rest of the total package of the pigeon. There are some that believe the head must be perfect to win a show…(not true) of course you want some roundness and strength. However on the opposite end a small weak flat head is not going to cut it. I always joke with some pigeons that look like you could set a cup of coffee on top of their head and not spill a drop.. LOL Ahh stay away from this. If you look at ‘Miss Misty above she will provide a great example of this concept, and many other concepts in this writing. She won no less than EIGHT Grand Championships in very large shows. She is the best example I have to portray what the show standard might be.

*Color .. A well qualified Judge (in a ‘Racing Pigeon’ show) will not have color as a main factor. For example if a Judge likes whites or say chocolates and will only pick that color …he or she has no business being a Judge !! When looking for an outstanding pigeon that will move into the Championship class..color should not come into play. At the very least all of the above concepts should far outweigh what the color of the pigeon is.

SOME LITTLE TIPS …(1) Trim the toe nails, trim the beak so it is even, (2) If the show is on Saturday try if at all possible to give them a bath on Thursday (3) Luke warm water is best, and add a capful of ‘Liquid Bluing’ to the water, this really helps to bring out the natural colors of the pigeon (4) clean feet in the show pen is a must (5) If my show is on Saturday at noon their last meal would have been no later than 6:00 pm the evening before !! (6) If at all humanly possible make sure they get a good clean drink sometime during the morning before the show. (very important) (7) When crating your birds prior to the show you want to be careful. You want to eliminate fighting and pecking among your pigeons…certainly do NOT put cocks and hens together in the same crate, and for that matter agressive cocks together are also a disaster waiting to happen. Hens together is usually just fine… NOTE : Of course I was a fanatic, but I had individual crate sections for all my pigeons… I also won over 100 first place classes, and 25 Grand Championship victories. I honestly do not show very much anymore… so this is not all about my accolades..but rather about me helping you if you desire to win…and these concepts above do work……….. best of luck, and hope to see you at the big show in November (or any show that you might enter in this up and coming off season…


Tom Fremont



2 Responses to THE ART OF THE SHOW

  1. Ken Kobus on August 30, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    be safe the current pmv1 vaccine being used is not effective in protecting the birds from this new strain of pmv1. Thousands have died since last falls shows. 75% losses are reported in show birds. It is respiratory.

  2. Tom Fremont on September 5, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    We will do our best… We are fanatical about clean cages, and clean bottoms…no pigeons will ever enter a crate where another has been in. I’ve seen some shows where they put them all together in one big cage..Are you freaking kidding ? None of that nonsense at Northern Lights… We have
    Certified Judges that will take every precaution possible… Including hand sanitizer etc… If any pigeons are deemed unhealthy they will be removed. I know at the fancy shows there were many problems last year..but I had not heard what you are saying at Racing Pigeon Shows ?? Trust me we will be on top of our game…

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