A few babies enjoying their first snow.
I show rabbits. If you’ve been with me, you’ll already know this. I’ve not been to many, but I’ve made some connections over the years and it’s fun to see everyone. I also like to try and support the club, and of course try to win in my class.
First, I want to tell you how our shows work (and I assume other shows, but I’ve only been to ours). Our rabbit club is called the Maritime Rabbit Breeders Association, or MRBA. We follow the rules and regulations put in place by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, or ARBA. The purpose most of us breeders is to come as close the Standard as possible. We follow the ARBAs Standard of Perfection. Every breed has an outline or Standard, of exactly what the breed is supposed to look like. So essentially, we want to make the perfect rabbit for our breed. This includes making sure they healthy and in the best condition possible. And then we show them. If our breed is sanctioned, we can gain points. We want to win Best in Breed. And then we want Best in Show. Me? I’m not there yet. But I’m working hard on it.
There are several breeds of rabbits. 49, to be exact. Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly as many breeds here in the Maritimes. Each breed is then broken down into groups, then varieties. Then again into age classes. For example, I breed Blue eyed white Netherland Dwarf. They’ll call out that they will be judging Netherland Dwarf. The group is Self, which includes Black, Blue, Chocolate, Red eyed white and Blue eyed white. When they get to my variety, blue eyed white, I’ve got to be ready. They will then call out the age classes. For smaller breeds, there are 4. Sr buck, Sr doe, Jr buck, Jr doe. Seniors are any that are over 6 months of age, juniors must be at least 8 weeks old and must meet minimum weight, which is 1lb for Netherlands. Does are female, and bucks are male.
This is at a show a few years ago. These are judging coops. You put your rabbit in the front, and the judge takes them out the back to examine them, then they are put back in the coop. Here the judge has the Blue Eyed White Netherland Dwarf Sr bucks ready to go for judging.
When they find the best blue eyed white Sr buck Netherland Dwarf, they will sit him aside. Then they will choose the best Sr doe, and so on. After they have chosen the best four of that colour variety, they choose the best out of them. This rabbit become Best of Variety, or BOV. If this rabbit happens to be a buck, or them the best doe will be chosen. This rabbit becomes Best Opposite Sex of Variety, or BOSV, and vice versa. The BOV is then set aside until the group is finished. The best out of those is then called Best of Group, BOG, and Best Opposite Sex of Group, BOSG respectively. If the show is small, this part may be skipped. BOG is then set aside and will be judged for Best of Breed, BOB. Again, if this is a doe, the best buck will be picked and considered Best Opposite Sex of Breed, BOSB. BOB then goes on to compete against all the other Best of Breeds, for Best In Show, BIS.
This is one of my boys at the exhibition. They close the barn to do the judging and you don't find out how you did until the reopen the barn to the public.
Getting ready: My first show was scary. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know what to expect. I was alone. I found the building, parked my car, grabbed my rabbit and went in. Yup, I drove 2 hours with one rabbit (that I bought). I can’t remember if I even had a rabbit carrier, but I’m thinking I must have. I walked in and they took him to check him over to make sure he was healthy. No sick animals allowed. I stood in line and paid my fee, as I had already presentered him. Then I found a seat at an empty table at the back. Which just happened to be right in front of the canteen. My mentor, brought a rabbit for me. He came to sit with me for a bit, looked at the rabbit I brought (which I also bought from him) and I paid him for my new girl. I watched other breeds being judged, as Netherlands were pretty far down on the list, and then grabbed a bite to eat at lunch. I took my boy out and sat him on the table and gave him a good brushing. I finally got to take him up and put him in one of the holes. He was judged, and did not place, so I put him back in his cage and I went home.
Now I know more people, and I have someone that doesn’t mind going with me, so it’s a bit more enjoyable. And I probably pack too much stuff. Towels, brush, clippers, water, hay, carriers. I make sure there’s water for me and water for the rabbits.
This is Apollo, my Mini Rex, in his cage. This is where he lives. Mini Rex have thinner fur on their feet, so he has a resting mat in his cage, which he obviously doesn't feel he needs to use.
Now I need to address what people see when they’re not familiar with rabbit showing. Or with farming aspects. Contrary to what most believe, rabbits are actually livestock, much like cattle or chickens. I know, you’re see these cute, furry little creatures, and you want to bring it home and put it in a cage in your living room and cuddle it at night. Well, you can. But that’s not what they were originally meant for. Rabbits, before being cute little house animals, were raised for food and fur. Rabbit meat is actually one of the best meats you can eat. Very lean and high in protein. And the pelts make lovely mittens. Like a chicken, it served a purpose. And for many, they still serve that purpose. So, like other livestock, they don’t usually live in the house. And, like other livestock (or even your dog), they must be transported as safely as possible.
This is Chester, and we are at a show. He is in a carrier in this picture. This is how he is transported and this is where he stays until they are ready to judge him. He does NOT live in this.
I usually take a couple young rabbits to our local fair. And on the Facebook page, I’ve seen comments of what horrible conditions the rabbits and chickens are kept in there. (They’re in the same building) My little rabbits live in 24x24 cages. This is bigger than required for their breed. This is also the size of the cages that are kindly donated for the rabbits at this fair. And there is someone there that donates their time to make sure all these animals have food and water at all times. This building is hot and it’s held in the dead of summer, so it’s understandably hot in there. And sometimes water gets spilled. That’s life. It will get refilled as soon as the caretaker realizes it. She may have been in the bathroom. Or maybe grabbing a bite to eat. I can assure you, I’m not sitting in my rabbit building all day long to watch my animals. The animals at this fair get their cages cleaned out every morning before the barn opens. They get fresh hay. They get food all day long. Do you know why? It’s so people don’t complain about how the animals are starving. When they’re home they only get a measured amount in the morning. Do you know why? Because they’d be fat. And fat rabbits are unhealthy rabbits. Also, you will see large rabbits in slightly larger cages. Please don’t think this is the way they live. At home in the barn they live in, I can assure your their space is much bigger. The people go above and beyond to care for these animals, please do not complain.
These are rabbits on display at the South Shore Exhibition. These rabbits are well taken care of while they are here, but these larger rabbits you see here live in much larger cages at home. This is only temporary housing for the duration of the exhibition. And we thank those who care for out animals while they are here.