Rabbit Show Basics
Before you try to show rabbits, I urge you to purchase the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) Standard of Perfection–read it and study the standard. The standard has information on the qualities that your rabbit will be judged upon. You have to know all the terms that the standard covers as well as learn what would be a disqualification or an elimination, what colors and body type is correct for your breed, etc. You should know as much as you can about rabbits to show them well, and knowing the breed standard by heart is a very wise idea. Otherwise, if you have a disqualified animal, for example, and try showing it, you’ve just wasted your entry fee.
Any rabbit being shown must have a legible ear tattoo in the left ear. If you do not have your rabbit tattooed, you will probably be able to find someone to do it for you if you know where to look. A good place to start looking is with your local rabbit club–someone who has a tattoo set might be willing to do it for you. You can also look for a judge or registrar (there are registrars at rabbit shows), but they might charge you for the service. What to tattoo is up to you–it can be any combination of letters or numbers, as there is no rule regarding the tattoo (other than it must be legible and in the left ear).
Finding and Entering Shows
Locate a rabbit show that you’d like to attend by visiting the ARBA site. Once you’ve found a show, contact the show secretary and request a show catalog. The show catalog will give you all the pertinent info about the show–when the show is, how much entry fees are, who is judging, the check-in time, what time the show starts, where the show is, what the show rules are, etc.
After you get the catalog, fill out the entry form and mail it in by the deadline with the entry fee to the address listed. Some shows require a pre-entry–you have to send it in by the deadline or your money will be sent back and you will not be allowed to enter.
If the show is a “day-of-entry” show, you simply pay your fee and do all the paperwork the day of the show. You might be able to send in your paperwork and fees ahead of time. If the catalog does not have an entry form, you will be able to get it at the show (day-of-entry shows will have all paperwork you need)I If you have any questions about the paperwork, ask someone–they will be happy to help you fill it out correctly.
The show superintendent and/or show committee will put a list of breeds together. Usually certain breeds (ones that tend to have a large number of entries) will start first. If you have one of those breeds, you must enter on time–if you enter late, you are out of luck.
Leave early so you have plenty of time–if you get there too late and the show has already started–too bad. When you arrive at the show, leave the animals in the car and find the entry booth. Fill out your paperwork, pay your fees, and walk around the showroom. Usually there will be several long tables set up, and a posting of the breeds and the judge’s name will be available by each table.
Locate where your breed is going to be judged, and go fetch your rabbit(s). Set up as close to the table where your breed will be shown as possible because you have to be paying attention and carry your animals up to the table when your entry is called. Try not to have a leaky carrier, and if your rabbit makes a mess please clean it up!
Now you wait. Pack a comfortable lawn chair, take a book, and perhaps pack a cooler with snacks and a drink. Wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes, too. If you have a breed that is a bit further down the list–you might have several hours to kill, so you can walk around, watch the judging, talk to breeders, etc.
Pay attention to what is going on at the table where your breed will be judged–if judging for mini lops is followed by fuzzy lops, for example, and the judges are picking best of breed mini lop, you know fuzzy lops will be up very soon! Before taking your rabbit to be judged, give him a good grooming. Dampen your hands and work the fur to remove loose hairs, remove static, and add sheen and life to the coat.
Read Part 2, which covers Judging Order, Evaluation, and Show Ettiquette.