My Rabbit has Five Legs?
How Rabbit Shows are Judged and Points are Awarded.
When we first started looking for bunnies for showing, we wanted competitive rabbits so we would be able to breed competitive rabbits. The impressive titles attached to the Sires (dads) and Dams (moms) would proudly state “has three legs” or “won five legs”. The “Grand Champion” part seemed simple enough but how did a bunny get there. First I had to look at how shows were judged.
Here is how the judging works. The classes for French Lop Rabbits are Senior, Intermediate, and Junior for each bucks and does (6 class). In addition, the classes are divided into two Varieties; solid (color fur) and broken (colors in combination with white fur). Within these groups, unless all the rabbits entered are unworthy of an award, the judge usually will place the animals from the last to the first. If the class has at least five rabbits shown and these five rabbits are entered by three or more different exhibitors, the first place rabbit gets a leg. Disqualifications are counted in the number of animals shown except when a wrong sex is entered, such as, a buck is entered as a doe. If there are three solid senior bucks, no solid intermediate bucks and two solid junior bucks entered, the first place senior buck and the first junior buck do not get a leg automatically after winning the first place. However, provided that these five solid bucks are entered by three or more exhibitors, if the first place solid junior buck wins over the senior, the junior wins a leg, the senior doesn't, and vice versa. If one solid senior buck, one solid intermediate buck, two solid senior does and one solid junior doe are shown, of these four classes, only the Best Solid wins a leg if these five rabbits are entered by three or more exhibitors.
During the show, a judge will select in each variety the first place winner of the senior buck, intermediate buck, junior buck, senior doe, intermediate doe, and junior doe, usually in this order. In the same variety, the senior buck will be compared against the intermediate buck and junior buck and the winner stays on the table. The senior doe will be compared against the intermediate doe and junior doe, the winner stays. Then the winner buck will be judged against the winner doe. The winner of the two will be the Best of Variety (BOV) and the other will be the Best Opposite Sex of the Variety (BOSV). At this time, there should be four rabbits on the table, a solid buck, a solid doe, a broken buck and a broken doe. The Best Solid will be judged against the Best Broken and the winner is the Best of Breed (BOB). If the Best of Breed winner is a doe, then the two remaining bucks will be compared and the winner is the Best Opposite Sex of the Breed (BOS). If the BOB winner is a buck, then the two remaining does will be compared for the BOS.
Junior Bucks and Does are under 6 months of age and under 10 ½ lbs. An Intermediate rabbit is 6 to 8 months old and under 11 ½ lbs for bucks and 12 lbs for does. If a junior rabbit exceeds the maximum junior weight, then they must compete as an intermediate (6/8) or senior. Small senior rabbits may not compete as juniors or intermediates. So it's possible that large, young rabbits may compete up a class, but overweight 6/8 or senior rabbits, can't move down a class, and will be disqualified from competition.
To summarize, it takes at least five rabbits and three exhibitors to qualify a leg for one rabbit. If a rabbit wins three legs which were awarded by at least two different judges, with at least one leg being a senior leg, and this rabbit is registered by an ARBA licensed registrar, this rabbit qualifies to become a Grand Champion. The owner mails the three original leg certificates with registration number and $4.00 to the secretary of the ARBA. The secretary of the ARBA will send back a Grand Champion Certificate with a grand champion number assigned to this rabbit. One rabbit qualifies for one grand champion certificate in his lifetime. An owner still can show this rabbit after being "granded", the legs earned after that are just for the honor rather than working toward the certificate.
One might ask why would anyone want to show a rabbit who is already a grand champion? The answer could be: just for the fun, for the honor and/or for the sweepstakes points. What are the sweepstakes points? If the exhibitor is a member of Lop Rabbit Club of America (LRCA) and the shows he attended are sanctioned by the LRCA, the club sweepstakes chairperson keeps a record of all the show winnings of each member. The club publishes a list of the top - highest point exhibitors and French/English lops in the nation (Top Lop). How are the sweepstakes points calculated? Here is an explanation:
The BOB exhibitor gets l bonus point multiplied by # of rabbits in the breed, the BOS exhibitor gets 1/2 bonus point multiplied by # of rabbits in the breed. There are no bonus points for the Best of variety exhibitors. Starting from the beginning of 1989, the Best In Show exhibitor in an all-breed show gets 100 bonus points and the Best in Show exhibitor in the ARBA National Convention gets 200 bonus points. No bonus point is awarded for regular specialty show Best In Show exhibitors. All points earned in the ARBA National Convention are doubled.
The big sweepstakes points exhibitors may or may not coincide with the winning exhibitors in the show circuits. An exhibitor may take two rabbits to a show and win the BOB and BOS but win very limited number of points if these two rabbits happen to be entered in small classes. Another exhibitor may not have won one single leg in a show but become the Best Display winner of that show. That is, he gets the highest sweepstakes points in that show by entering a large number of rabbits and winning many 2nd to 5th places. In addition to the number of rabbits entered and the size of the classes, another deciding factor in sweepstakes points ranking is the number of shows an exhibitor has gone to in the sweepstakes year. In summary, competing in sweepstakes takes quality, quantity and consistency. The top ten sweepstakes winners are given an award in recognition of their accomplishment during the ARBA National Convention breed banquet. The ones who do not attend will receive their awards in the mail.
What do the judges look for when judging? The bible for judging is the "Standard of Perfection," which is published by ARBA and revised every 5 years to reflect the changes in the breeds. The Standard of Perfection lists 45 accepted breeds. Each breed has a different point distribution on different parts of the rabbit. The total points add up to 100. This book is invaluable to the rabbit exhibitor. Unlike dog shows, rabbit owners are not known to the rabbit judges. It is considered a violation of show rules if an owner identifies ownership of the rabbit. The purpose is to ensure fair and unbiased judging. At National Shows exhibitors (owners) are just handed out slips listing what coop the bunny is to be fetched from, usually not your own bunny. Exhibitors will also be required to write in their bunnies right ear the coop number with a permanent ink pen. This is the only number the judge will refer to at the National level to assure an unbiased show. Only ARBA licensed judges can officiate in an ARBA sanctioned show. Each potential judge has to pass a written test and then apprentice under licensed judges for several shows to be eligible to apply for a license.
An ARBA sanctioned rabbit show is normally hosted on weekends, throughout the country. With a different show being offered each day and/or multiple shows in one day. You can find shows located close to you at the ARBA website. Both youth and open shows are normally conducted during the same weekend. A show rabbit owned by a youth showman cannot be entered in the open class of the same show. However, if multiple shows are held together the youth can enter the youth class in one show and the open class in another show. The same rabbit cannot be entered in both a youth and open show on the same day. It is not acceptable for an adult to show a youth rabbit in the youth show, even if they are the parent of the youth owner or a partial owner of the rabbit.
To recap; showing a rabbit is based on the combination of age, sex, weight, and color of the rabbit. Class refers to the sex/age combinations of Senior Buck, Senior Doe, Intermediate buck, Intermediate Doe, Junior Buck and Junior Doe(6 class). Junior Bucks and Does are under 6 months of age and under 10 ½ lbs. An Intermediate rabbit is 6 to 8 months old and under 11 ½ lbs for bucks and 12 lbs for does. If a junior rabbit exceeds the maximum junior weight, then they must compete as an intermediate (6/8) or senior. Small senior rabbits may not compete as juniors or intermediates. So it's possible that large, young rabbits may compete up a class, but overweight 6/8 or senior rabbits, can't move down a class, and will be disqualified from competition.
French Lops that reach 6 months old may be registered with the ARBA. Rabbits are not required to be registered to compete in an ARBA show and cannot be registered before they reach 6 months. Each rabbit awarded a grand champion certificate must be registered with the ARBA. For a rabbit to be registered, the owner must be a current ARBA member, have tattooed their rabbits in their left ear with a number of their choosing, present a 3 generation pedigree, and pay $6.00. The registrar checks the pedigree and the rabbit for general, health or breed specific disqualifications, and weighs the animal. If the rabbit passes all of the checks from the registar, then the registration form is completed and forwarded to ARBA for filing. A special registration tattoo is applied to the rabbit's right ear.
Depending on the size and length of the show the rabbits may be cooped during the show together in one area, or brought into the show arena in individual carriers for the duration of the show. All rabbits are brought to their individual coops at the judging table when it is time for their class to compete. Each rabbit is removed in turn from the coop and inspected by the judge. The judge will disqualify rabbits for faults or poor health, judging the remaining rabbits against the breed standard of perfection and the other rabbits. Once the class is completed the first place rabbits remain at the table to compete for BOV or BOB. The others rabbits are returned to their own coops or carriers and the next class is brought to the table and placed in their judging coops. There is a volunteer behind the table taking comments the judge is saying for each rabbit presented. This is a great way to get in on the fun, and is always welcome and needed at every rabbit show. Each exhibitor is responsible for maintaining their own animal and for cleaning their cages during the duration of the show. Most exhibitors travel by car or truck with their rabbits to shows. The ARBA national convention show is usually the only show that rabbits are flown in to, and depending on its location most exhibitors choose to drive anyway because of the challenges of flying with multiple rabbits.
Sweepstakes - sweepstakes contests are conducted by national rabbit clubs such as the LRCA and some local clubs as well. For the LRCA, sweepstakes points are earned as follows: 6 points per rabbit shown for first place, 4 points per rabbit for second place, 3 points per rabbit for third place, 2 points per rabbit for fourth place, and 1 point for rabbit for fifth place. For Nationals and Convention, first place through tenth place earn the following points, respectively, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 per rabbit shown.
What Goes on?
Rabbit owners talk, exchange bunny stories and care tips, make friends, buy and sell bunnies, compete and improve breeds.
How Many Rabbits Participate?
Most local shows have several hundred to several thousand rabbits. National conventions usually have more than 10,000, even close to 20,000 rabbits.
How Can I Prepare My Rabbit?
Rabbits to be shown are required to have a permanent tattoo in the left ear to distinguish one rabbit from another. The letters, numbers or symbols are to be selected by the owner.
How Can I Find a Show?
If you join ARBA, you will receive an official magazine "Domestic Rabbits" every other month. There are several pages listing show dates and contact persons around the country. One section is for "open show," shows that are open to people of all ages. Another is for "youth show," shows specifically for youth under 19 years old. You can also find show information by visiting the ARBA Web site.
In addition, most states will have their own association. We belong to the Wisconsin State Rabbit Breeders Association (WSRBA).
For each breed there are typically specialty clubs. At the national level, French and English Lops have the Lop Rabbit Club of America (LRCA).
How Do I Take My Rabbit to a Show?
Rabbits are taken to the shows in their show carriers – small wire cages with pans. Carriers are available in pet stores, feed stores and through mail-order companies. The pan should have a material to absorb wastes. If you are going to a show that lasts more than one day, make sure that all lining materials are changed daily.
Owners find a spot in the show room and put down their show carriers containing their rabbits. When the breeds and classes are called, the owners take their rabbits to the judges' tables with individual holding coops.
How Are Rabbits Judged?
The bible for judging is the "Standard of Perfection," which is published by ARBA and revised every 5 years to reflect the changes in the breeds. The newest edition for years 2001-2005 became available at the end of October 2000. The Standard of Perfection lists 45 accepted breeds. Each breed has a different point distribution on different parts of the rabbit: