THE RABBIT SHOW - Nikki White (Reguli Cavy & Rabbit Stud)
Have you fancied having a go at showing rabbits but weren't sure how? Or what to do? Or even if you could?
Showing rabbits is not only fun but informative. You not only meet others who share your hobby but you can get advice from more experienced breeders and also from the judge. This is the only real way to know if your breeding program is on track. Also there is a sense of achievement if you do win a certificate.
All you need is a showable rabbit. That means it should at least approximate the breed standards for its breed, be entire (unlike cats, you can't show neuters, at least not in the breed classes) and have an identifying ring on it. CRCI breeds according to the British Rabbit Council (BRC) breed standards (with the exception of the Jersey Wooly, where the American Rabbit Breeders' Association standard of perfection is used as it is an American breed with no BRC equivalent). Your rabbit's breeder would have supplied a ring when you bought the rabbit as long as you said you intended to show.
There are two types of rabbit show: the pen show and the table show.
In both types of show the rabbits must be health checked (called vetting) before they are allowed into the hall. This is usually done by an experienced breeder and may even be by a qualified vet, depending on how formal the occasion.
HERE IS A GUIDE TO SHOWING YOUR RABBIT WITH CRCI.
First, unlike with cavy clubs, you don't have to be a club member to show. Nor, unlike cats, do you have to be a member of the state/territory governing body to show (rabbits don't have such things anyway).
Step 1. Filling out the Entry Form
Some days before the next show, the Show Secretary will email all members a copy of the entry form and show schedule. Notification of this is often given on the club's Facebook page so non-members who would like to show can request copies from the Show Secretary. Alternately, the CRCI entry form is available on this website and may be either printed off or saved as a Word document to your PC and used for an email entry. Either post or email is accepted. The form has seven columns. Working from left to right they are:-
REW = Red-Eyed White
Self A rabbit of a single, solid colour which isn't a red-eyed white, e.g. all black, all blue, all chocolate, a blue-eyed white, etc.
Shaded A rabbit with darker points on the face, feet and tail. This include Siamese Sable, Sooty Fawn (aka Tortoiseshell), Smoke Pearl, Sealpoint and so on, Think Burmese, Siamese or Tonkinese cats.
Agouti Pattern These have ticked coats (each hair has several bands of colour) and include Agouti/Castor, Chinchilla, Cinnamon, Opal, Lynx and Squirrel
Tan Pattern These are your two tone bunnies, a solid coloured top and a white underbelly. They have eye circles, a triangle on the nape and a band of ticking where the coloured top meets the white underbelly. This lot includes the Foxes, the Otters, the Sable Martens and the Tans. In Rex, but no other breeds, this also includes Orange.
AOC = Any Other Colour. This lot includes the Butterflies, the Himalayans, the Orange (except in Rex)
A/C = An y Colour. Usually used with breeds which do not attract enough entries to be judged by individual colours e.g. Dutch, English, British Giant, etc.
AOV = Any Other Variety. This is tacked on the end of each Group (Fancy, Fur or Rex). It covers any recognised breed which doesn't have its own class. So if you had a Belgian Hare or a Blanc de Termonde to show, it would go in AOV Fancy as they are Fancy rabbits. If you had a an Alaskan or a Beveren, it would go in AOV Fur and if you had an Astrex or an Opossum, it would go in AOV Rex.
If you are unsure which class your rabbit should go in, check the Breed Standards book as it will tell you. Failing that, please don't hesitate to contact the Show Secretary.
Entries should be phoned in to the Show Secretary, posted or emailed before the deadline. The deadline will be in the newsletter and/or the covering email when the entry from and schedule are sent out to members. Payment can be made at the show on the day if you are a club member.
If you are entering in the unrung or pet/novelty sections, you just enter on the day. Listen for the classes as they are called and go up to the pet/novelty table with your $1. There's no need to fill in a form.
Step 2: Preparing for the Show
Rabbits are judged on how closely they conform to the standard of their breed. They are also judged on presentation, particularly if what's on the table is pretty close to standard with not much to choose between them. The one with the best presentation will beat one lacking it.
Your rabbit should be fit, firm of flesh, neither flabby nor skinny (bones should not stick out or be easily felt, nor should they be buried under a cushion of fat). This is achieved throughout the year with the the correct diet and exercise. Rabbits which have not long before given birth or raised youngsters should be left at home to regain their show condition.
The rabbit should be clean with no staining on the feet, underbelly or elsewhere. Again this is achieved during the year as ingrained staining cannot be rectified the night before. Of course, accidents will happen on the day. There are a number of remedies for whitening slightly stained feet, usually involving white vinegar, cornflour or talcum powder in various combinations, or white chalk (as used for dogs) or the Magic White used for horses. Whatever you use, make sure all the residue is brushed out thoroughly before show as it could lead to a disqualification. Also check the underbelly, under the tail and, with bucks, the insides of the back legs for cleanliness, knots and tangles.
The rabbit should be groomed and dead hair brushed out. A good stiff brush or moult comb works best. For the Giant rabbits I find the rubber ZoomGroom (for cats) is ideal. In moulting season, it impossible to remove all the dead hair but do your best. If he's in moult, you will need to give him several vigorous brushes and perhaps pull the hair out by hand as well, working all over his coat. Apart from speeding the growth of his new coat, it will stop him from swallowing the dead fur when he grooms himself. Really moulty rabbits with chunks of hair missing should be left at home. Long-haired rabbits should have all the knots and matts removed. The coat should feel silky and roll back when brushed to wrong way. A good tip is to rub witch-hazel into the coat and run your hands back and forth along the coat until, it is dry as this will remove all sorts of debris. it's like given your rabbit a dry-clean as they should not be bathed. Polishing his coat with a piece of satin or a car chamois gives him an extra sheen..
Claws should be clipped (the tips removed) and don't forget the dew claws on the side of the forepaws. If there is dirt trapped in the claw, you can clean it out with a toothbrush.
It is a good idea not to feed greens (including carrots, or beetroot) as they can causing staining around the mouth or, at worse, when combined with the stress of showing, can give him or her the trots with attendant mess.
I always give my show rabbits a 'once over' the night before, looking for the sort of things the vetting-in officer does: : lice, mites, discharges from nose, ears and rear end. I look in the ears for any dirt inside or evidence of ear mites and make sure there is no dandruff or grass-seeds in the fur. This should also be done to pet bunnies as well as pedigree rabbits as presentation counts as much there, too and if they do have suspect ears or creepy crawlies they will be vetted out and not allowed in the hall.
It is also a good idea to accustom bunnies from a young age to sitting still for judging and to being handled as a judge handles them. This can be done by taking the rabbit out regularly and putting him on a table on a mat and getting him to stay. Pick him up, examine him top and bottom, blow into his fur, inspect his teeth, stretch out his leg and read his ring, etc.
Step 3: Getting to the Show
Arrive in plenty of time. The hall opens at 9am and judging is around 10am. If you arrive in good time, you won't feel pushed and stressed.
Your rabbits, even those not entered in the show, need to be vetted in before you can enter the hall. This is a check to make sure the rabbit is not carrying any parasites or infectious diseases. It involved examining the coat, the ears, nose, rear end, belly and (optionally) the teeth. The vetting table is just inside the door and you bring your rabbits, one by one, out of their cages and place them on the table, then return them when they are checked.
Bring your rabbits in a secure cage such as a cat carry basket, one rabbit per cage unless they are kittens. Line it with a carpet square or paper-based cat litter. Avoid wood shavings (unless under a wire base), straw or hay as it is messy. Don't use newspaper as the print can stain the rabbit's feet.
Once vetted in, find a table (tables and chairs are provided) and set up there. Then pay your entry fee to the Show Secretary. Her table is usually located near the judging trestles. You will receive your entry form back marked up with each rabbit's number and a corresponding plastic numbered cage tag. These you put on the appropriate rabbit's cage.
Remember that, according to CRCI show rules, rabbits must not be fed until after judging, though you can give them water.
Step 4: Showing
Rabbits are divided into four Groups - Fancy, Lop, (Normal) Fur and Rex at CRCI shows. The rabbits are shown in the same order as on the show schedule. Angoras (if present) will go up first, then Netherland Dwarfs, and so on through the Fancy group, then Cashmeres fo up first in the Lop group, followed by the other lops and so on. You listen for your class and number which the book steward will call out ("Dwarf Lop, Self Adult, number 23, 43, 55 and 60", for example) and then take your rabbit, out of his cage, together with one of his plastic numbered tags. You place the rabbit on n the table, on the mat provided, facing the judge with the tag in front of him. Some things to remember:-
Do I Need to Go Up Again?
If your rabbit is awarded first place in its class, say Best Adult Self Netherland Dwarf, you will be asked to remain while the Juniors and the Kittens in the Self Netherlands are judged. If you beat the winning Junior and the winning Kitten and get the Best Self Netherland, you will receive a Challenge Certificate which carries points towards a Championship.
If you get the Challenge, you will (usually) be required to bring your rabbit up again to be judged against the Challenge winners of the other sections in your breed for Best of Breed, i.e. Best Netherland Dwarf in this example so your rabbit will be judged against the Best REW, the Best Shaded, the Best Agouti Pattern, etc. Netherland Dwarf. Note that, depending on the circumstances, not all judges need to see all the rabbits again to make their decision so please don't complain either to them or the Show Secretary if your rabbit wasn't called up again..
The winner of the Best of Breed Netherland Dwarf will come out again for Best in Group, in this example, Best Fancy rabbit. It will be judged against the Best Dutch, Best English, Best Pole, etc.
If your rabbit is awarded the Best Fancy, it will come out one more time for the Best in Show line up where it will be up against the Best Lop, the Best Fur and the Best Rex.
PET AND NOVELTY CLASSES
These are entered on the day. Like the pedigree rabbits, they must be vetted in before entering the hall. They should be clean and free from ear mites and other parasites as well as disease-free. They should also be in secure carry baskets with carpet squares, towels or cat litter and not hay, shavings or straw.
You listen for the classes and if you want to enter one, you take your entry free (currently $1 per class) and pay the person doing the judging and bring your rabbit to the table. You can enter as many classes as you like.
Besides entering in the various parts of the show, you can volunteer for such necessary things as Canteen Duty (where you sell items of food to attendees, the most you'd be asked to cook would be a toasted sandwich or a frankfurter, and to reheat frozen pies and sausage rolls); penciller ( taking notes of what the judge says of the top three rabbits in each class, their placings, plus ring number of the CC winner); selling raffle tickets to help defray hall hire costs, etc.; judging the novelty classes; vetting rabbits first thing and aiding the Show Secretary with the paper work. These are all good ways of learning more about rabbits (well canteen duty and selling raffle tickets aren't, true) and meeting people.
At the end of the show, please tidy up around you (straw, litter, wood shavings, etc.) before you leave. Every little bit helps.