Rabbit Show Etiquette

By Laurie Stroupe

Whether you are an old hand at rabbit exhibition or planning to make your first show soon, it pays to stop and think about show etiquette from time to time. The following is a hodgepodge of thoughts on etiquette. I’ll make no claim to being comprehensive, but I think that most of the ideas are worth pondering.

Plan to be a Little Early

No one plans to be late, but it is often lack of planning that is the culprit. Count on rain, traffic, accidents, or forgetting something. And make sure you have directions to the show before you leave the house. Most shows try to make sure everyone who enters has arrived before judging their breed. Being on time helps the superintendent get the show on the road without worrying about missing people and missing rabbits. I know my fate is now sealed–I will be late to my very next show!

Pull up as close as the facility will allow for unloading your rabbits and paraphenalia. When you’re done unloading move your vehicle! Other folks are waiting for the best unloading spot, too.

Be sensitive to all that other exhibitors have to do in the morning before judging starts. If you want to buy bunnies or have a breeder look at your rabbits, try to be aware of whether that exhibitor is trying to finish up grooming or hasn’t had time to set up or check in yet.

Do not ask an exhibitor to indicate which rabbit is his or hers if it is on the judging table. This is probably the biggest mistake new folks make. I know I did. Judges are not supposed to know which rabbit belongs to whom. You can really put an exhibitor and perhaps a judge on the spot by indicating ownership in any way. Likewise, refrain from making either positive or negative comments about a rabbit on the judging table where the judge might conceivably hear you. Comments such as “check his teeth” or “he’s a grand champion” are totally out of line.

Don’t be Late Bringing Your Rabbits to the Table

Once your breed begins to be judged, stay close by. It is inconsiderate to make the judge and every other exhibitor wait as the last person or two is rounded up. If you have rabbits on other tables at the same time, recruit some help. If you need to step away, ask someone to take your bunny from the table for you. While we’re on that subject, taking your bunny off the table in a timely manner is just as important as putting it on. 

On the other hand, closing classes very quickly without making an effort to notify everyone or being short with those who are doing their best to juggle several things at once is also rude. If you show long enough, you will be the one being hunted down. It happens from time to time to everyone. Just don’t let it be a habit with you.

Do not take rabbits out of carriers or cages unless you have the breeder’s permission. Some people do not mind, while others are really offended. Unless you know for certain that the breeder does not mind, just don’t do it.

Be Helpful When Assessing Other’s Rabbits

Do not make negative comments about rabbits unless you have been asked for a frank assessment of that animal. And then, be constructive. Every breeder puts a lot of work into their rabbits and has high hopes for each baby born. On the other hand, giving false positive information can be harmful as well. Just point out strengths and faults in neutral language and the one asking for the evaluation will get the idea. “I think he’s weak in the hindquarter” is preferred to “This rabbit is a piece of junk.”

Congratulate the winners. I know that we are often in a hurry to pack up and get home. Many are operating on fewer hours sleep than is optimal. But it is important to share the winners’ joy. They work hard for that moment. Don’t make them live it alone.

Thank the Show Crew

Thank the show secretary and the show superintendent. It’s probably hard to realize exactly how much work they do behind the scenes to make the show a possibility. It’s a pleasure to see a tired show secretary perk up at the end of a hard day just because you thought to stop by and said “Thank you. I know you put a lot of work into this show. Things ran very smoothly.”