How to Show Rabbits in 4-H and ARBA-sanctioned Shows
Showing adds another dimension to our rabbit hobby, where breeders and owners get together for some fun and competition. You can join a local 4-H or ARBA club to learn about rabbit shows in your area, or look them up on the website of the American Rabbit Breeders’ Association.
In order to show, you must have purebred rabbits. Rabbit shows are judged based on the conformity of the rabbits to the written Standard of Perfection. For youth (under 19) there are other competitive opportunities such as showmanship, breed ID, and royalty contests.
Here at the Nature Trail, we have lots of information that teaches you how to enter a rabbit show, how to understand what is going on, and how to make the most of the experience.
A Step-by-Step Introduction to Rabbit Shows
1. Entering a Rabbit Show – Find out the various methods used by clubs to accept rabbit show entries.
2. Show Prep Packing List – Before you head off for your first Holland lop show, check out this packing list. Of course, this list applies to other breeds, too.
3. Before Judging Begins – From the time you arrive at the showroom until the first class of Holland lops is called, you have things to do. Find out what to do before the judging begins.
4. Grooming your Rabbit – Make sure you take the time to make your Holland lop look his best! Grooming gives your Holland lop that something extra.
5. The Judging Order Within the Breed – Knowing the show order of the classes and colors for your breed will help you stay on top of things and be prepared to present your rabbit to the judge. This varies from breed to breed. For instance, Netherland Dwarfs have a different show order than Jersey Woolies.
6. The Judging Process – The judging is the main event at Holland lop shows. Find out what happens when judges evaluate show rabbits.
7. The Path to Best In Show – You may have heard of Best In Shows or BIS rabbits, but how do they earn that title?
8. How to Write for the Judge – Writers sit by the judging table and record placements, comments, and other important information. Writing is a great way to learn and to support your show. Here’s how to write well.
9. The Details – Show reports, buying and selling, and even the raffle are covered in the details. There’s a lot more to rabbit shows than just showing rabbits!
More Information on Showing Rabbits
- Rabbit Terms Glossary – Rabbit breeders and showmen really do have their own dialect! Here are some commonly used rabbit show terms and their meanings, as well as links to additional information.
- Registering a Rabbit with the ARBA – Did you know that a “registered” rabbit is not the same thing as a “pedigreed” rabbit? All registered rabbits must have a full pedigree, but registration is something much more special. Learn how and why to register your rabbits.
- Becoming a Grand Champion – Rabbits that have won at least three “legs” at ARBA shows may become official Grand Champions. There’s a bit more to it than that, but “granding” a show rabbit is quite an accomplishment. This article outlines how you can achieve your goal of granding your rabbits.
- Whose Job? – A rabbit show doesn’t just “happen,” but is the result of a joint effort between many individuals. Learn about the different positions required to run a rabbit show. What does the secretary do? The superintendent? Writers, judges, registrars? Maybe you’ll find a position right for you!
- Traveling Safely to Shows – Avid exhibitors of show rabbits put a lot of miles on their vehicles, traveling up, down, and all around to shows and national conventions. Here are some travel tips to keep your bunnies safe on the long ride.
- ARBA Sanctions Explained – You’ve heard that a show is sanctioned by the ARBA. So what? Is that different than a non-sanctioned show? National breed-specific clubs also sanction shows, but if your breed is not sanctioned, can you still show it? All the answers here.
- Sweepstakes Points – What do they really mean? Many clubs offer sweepstakes programs for their members. When you show your rabbits at certain shows, they gain points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the year wins. But there’s a little more to it than that. And really, how much should you value sweepstakes points?
- Show Etiquette – How to be a courteous exhibitor and make the most of your rabbit show experience!
- A Review of ARBA Show Rules – All shows sanctioned by the American Rabbit Breeders Association are governed by a rather lengthy set of rules. Here are a few that you should be aware of as an exhibitor.
- How to Enter a Show Correctly – All the data that you write on your show entry form has to be handled by the show secretary. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a huge job. You can make the secretary’s life a little easier by attending to these details.
- Competitiveness – Do you show rabbits just to have a good time with friends, or are you fiercely competitive? Friendly competition is a good thing — but are you crossing the line?
- Showing in Class – In some breeds you are allowed to show a junior over the weight as a senior. In other breeds, you’re not. In no case is it cool to show a rabbit of senior age in the junior class… but occasionally, it happens.
- How to Relate to Judges – Rabbit judges have a tough job. Interpretation of the Standard of Perfection is to some degree a matter of opinion, and you as an exhibitor will not agree with all the judges you encounter. Here’s some advice on how to approach a judge when you think something should be discussed.
- ARBA Judges Academy: My Experience – Laurie Stroupe shares stories from her exciting weekend at the ARBA judges’ academy.