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Tips for 4-H Showmanship in Rabbits

If you’re in 4-H and you want to show rabbits, you’ll need to perform several steps to get a good rating from the judge for showmanship. Here’s a quick summary of what you need to do, along with some tips for helping your score.

  1. Carry the rabbit to the table, using a proper hold. (Put your right hand under the rabbit’s chest and put your left hand under the rump. The rabbit should be facing you. Once you’ve lifted the rabbit, move his head under your left arm and lay your right hand on the rabbit’s back.) When approaching the table where the judge is, turn slowly in each direction to show the judge that you are holding the rabbit properly.
  2. Pose the rabbit. Place the rabbit on the table, with his head facing forward and his tattooed ear towards the judge.
  3. Check the ears, eyes, and tattoo. After checking the tattooed ear, I recommend checking the eye on the tatooed side. Turn the rabbit and check the other ear and the other eye before moving on to step 4.
  4. Check the teeth. Ensure that the rabbit is comfortable but also make sure that the judge can see what you are doing. The judge should see the teeth so that he or she can see that they are in proper alignment.
  5. Check the nose and front paws. Again make sure that the judge can see and that the rabbit is in a comfortable position.
  6. Check the sex. Roll the rabbit on his back to do this.
  7. Check the legs and nails. I like to check the straightness of the rabbit’s front legs just before I check the back legs. I do this while the rabbit is on his back, which makes it easier on you and the rabbit.
  8. Check the hocks. When checking the hocks, you are also checking for thin fur padding and bare spots as well as sore hocks.
  9. Check the tail. Look for breaks in the tail. Also check that the length of the tail is in proper balance compared to its size.
  10. Check the chest and abdomen. When checking for abcesses, be sure to check under the chin and around the neck also because a good place for an abcess is in one of scent glands under the chin.
  11. Check the fur. You can also blow into the fur to check for undercolor or ring definition. I also blow into the fur just behind the ears to check for fur mites.
  12. Repeat the steps. When you have finished your final pose, which should be with the rabbit’s tattooed ear facing the judge, then you can repeat all the areas and items that you checked. This way the judge will know that you did check those areas and just in case the judge forgot, you are giving him or her a reminder of everything that you checked for.
  13. Ask the judge if he or she has questions. After you have completed your routine, take a step back with your rabbit still posed and ask the judge if he or she has any questions for you.
  14. Return the rabbit to his carrier. After the judge is done asking you questions and excuses you, once again show the judge that you have a proper hold on your rabbit and return your rabbit to the carrier and lock the carrier.

Here are a few tips regarding showmanship:

  • When removing your rabbit from its carrier, be sure to lock the carrier. If you don’t lock it, you will be docked points.
  • Talk to the judge and let him or her know exactly what it is that you are doing with the rabbit when you’re showing it.
  • Pick out a rabbit that is going to allow you to work with him on a regular basis, because in order to become good at showmanship, you must practice!

If you’d like to see illustrations of the step by step process involved in a showmanship competition, visit the showmanship page on Rochelle Cooley’s Web site.

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