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The main thing (08-11-23)

As long as pigeon sport has existed, it is mainly 'form' that fanciers talk about. Rightly.  To perform, form is a prerequisite: For people and animals. And what about that expression: "You must have good ones, all the rest is Bull shit?"
Exaggerated, but a good way to make something clear. The expression means that  details are given too much value.

For example, I was pointed to a fellow fancier who had performed really well but had quit the sport. The neighbour had bought all his pigeons, 'now he finally had good ones', but in their new loft, with a different care it was with the same pigeons that had performed so well before that became a big joke.
 "So you need good birds, everything else is bull shit?" Hmm. Not really, as far as I'm concerned.
Above all, that expression should make it clear that many attach too much importance to unimportant details, and form is anything but a detail.
Klak said in the days when there was still a lot of pouling: 'I'd rather put my money on a 'half good bird' in shape than on a 'good' one that is not in good shape.'
I have the same thoughts. Let's talk about some clues about shape that are less often mentioned.

 In football, there is a 'five-second rule':  This means: Immediately chasing the ball after a loss of possession. It must be back in possession within five seconds. 
I myself have given up hope of a career as a professional footballer for some time, but what remained was my 'five second rule' in pigeon sport.
I am referring to the release of racing pigeons at home for training. Within five seconds, and that is not an exaggeration, the coop should be empty.

Even there is more. Leo Heremans once: ‘When the time comes to train, they have to feel it, as it were, and be ready with their necks stretched out.‘ True.
You might add, "and rush out with such a hellish noise and speed that you fear they'll hurt themselves against the window."
If you then turn around, they must have disappeared, so they have not yet made a turn, and preferably come back later in groups.
Training together around the loft may take an hour, but this doesn't mean training for me, so no sign of form.
I also prefer youngsters not to come back together. You have to be afraid that some of them will be lost who later on land exhausted, with drooping wings. Such birds do not need road training.  I have the idea that hens in shape train longer than cocks.
 A year or so ago, Luc van Mechelen performed reaL well with hens. Luc and I were sitting in a kind of garden shed and every so often they literally whizzed over. You didn't see them, but you heard them all the better. 'When I hear them whizzing like that, I know they will perform well the next race,' says Luc. His ears had to endure a lot that year.

Hens fighting is another thing. The more they dislike each other, the better. Some specialists manage to get their hens to the point where they are basketted almost fighting. The late Cor Leytens was someone who could race hens like no other. He, too, was only satisfied when the females could not stand each other.

We all like to see pigeons in the mood for a bath. Then at least they won't be sick. But there's a lot between not being sick and being in great shape.
And whether or not they want to take a bath also has a lot to do with the weather. When it's sweltering hot and we humans crave a bath, pigeons rarely feel like it.
If you put the bath on a lawn, you should be able to see where the bath used to be after bathing. That should be marked in the grass with a nice white round around the place where the bathtub stood. Like a kind of 'halo'.
In the case of a square bath, this is a square remnant of white powder. Of course, there should also be a thick white layer of powder on top of the bath water itself. I used to think that was less important and that was wrong, I learned. 
 I've seen too many examples of pigeons in bad shape that didn't leave that white powder on the bath water.

Widowers have to storm out of the loft full of noise, the opposite is also true. If you have to hunt some of them out, you have, believe me, a serious problem.
I've fallen for that several times. If a widower didn't go out, I thought he wanted to keep an eye on his box. Attachment to the territory, you know. Now they don't fool me with that anymore.
You should have little or no hope of a good result when your racing pigeons, cocks or hens (remain) at the bottom of the loft. They belong in their bin!
 Pigeons that you have to chase out of the loft or that are usually on the bottom are usually also the pigeons that, after having trained for a while, sit quietly in the loft. 
That is absolutely wrong. Widowers are not allowed to sit still, nor are hens or youngsters.

Nowadays there is a lot more training than in the past. Then, it had only started before the flights. Now fanciers also drive between the races. And also because most of them have many more pigeons than before, they are often released in groups. That can be an excellent indicator. 
If there is super form, they should not overtake each other. Not even when they were released with a difference of only one minute.
There are some who release their pigeons one by one. With only a few pigeons, that's doable. You often hear afterwards that it makes little sense because after about some minutes you see them flying in a group above the release site.  
For experienced pigeons, this is a bad sign; no form.
They should not ‘wait’ for the others after release.

It may happen that your widowers have suddenly, in a single night, thrown a lot of down. As if it had snowed. Many have already been caught up in it. Super form, they thought, and they pooled some extra money.
Keep them at home. Such pigeons, you can sometimes feel stubble, do not win a prize. That abundant throwing of down indicates that they are recovering from something.
The form is not there, but it can come. In about three weeks.


 A pigeon in form. Such birds look smaller than they really are