Today was bunny judging day at the State Fair. I had three rabbits there, although I had originally planned to take six.
I knew that one French senior doe was not going to go. I had tried to hold her in coat until two weeks ago, when she stopped eating, a true sign she just had to have that coat off. Bald rabbits just do not belong on the judging table, and she was in such a molt that her whole coat plucked clean. She's much happier now, after many treats and hay and no six inch fur coat. I was not happy, she won best of breed before and I wanted to show her again. Also, it meant only five rabbits to go to the fair.
So Wed morning I head out to the barn to do last minute checks on the five. Well, both french bucks were still straggly looking from pluckings, even with the pluckings being 6 weeks ago. They do not grow the coat as fast in the summer. I picked the one that had the better coat, and left the other one at home. So then there were only four rabbits to go.
Except looking at the white french buck, who was truly miserable in the long coat, and thinking about taking that miserable rabbit in long coat to the hot fair grounds for four days, I took pity, plucked most of the coat off, and left him home too. So then there were three.
And three is a nice number anyway. I have a three hole carrier cage. So with three bunnies and all of their trappings packed into the car, I headed for the fair barn. I got everyone settled in, and then had an enjoyable lunch with hubby before returning home.
This morning I needed to be at the rabbit barn by 8 am. Not because the rabbits would be judged that early but mostly because I had no idea when they would be judged and one is suppose to be there for the judging. Besides, arriving that early got me a fairly nice parking place.
Since I had very few rabbits, and since they were already groomed and I was smart and put them on wire risers and not the shavings, I actually had nothing to do until the judging. So I volunteered to be a comment writer for one of the judges. As it turned out, that was the best thing I could have done. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and even stayed on after the angoras had been judged, to continue as a writer. I learned alot, grew a healthy respect for the judge, and found out that even after seeing over 150 rabbits pass by me, by the end of the day I was still fascinated by the cuteness of the critter in general, no matter what the breed. I am a die-hard bunny lover.
I found it interesting that the judge used the same routine with each rabbit. It impressed me that the 150th rabbit got the same attentive look-over that the first rabbit did. When the judge first picks up the rabbit he sets it on the table, runs a hand from neck to back end, and then pushes in on the tail end, rounding up the rabbit's body. The judge does that with every rabbit, and then runs his hand down the rabbit again, feeling that round shaping. That is how the body type is judged. Then the judge grabs the bunny by the scruff and ears and turns it on it's back. Teeth are checked, all four paws are checked (for color of toenail, or fur markings) sex is checked (and yes there are bunnies that change sex from owner's cage to the judging table LOL) undercoat is ruffled or maybe blown upon to check the fur and tail is checked. The rabbit is held up to the judge's face to check eye color and markings on the head. Next it is set on the table again and the judges hand runs over the head and ears, looking for ear faults. Finally the coat is judged, often by running the hand up and down the coat several times. Do that with 10 rabbits in a class, decide how to rank them all from 10th to 1st, remembering which of those many little black mini rexes was just which rank, and you too can be a rabbit judge.
I also finally understood the logic behind some of the 'best of' awards that are given. Let's take the angora breed as an example. The breed is angora, but there are four varieties of angora, the French, Satin, English and German. So one variety is judged at a time, in four classes, Sr Buck, Sr Doe, Jr Buck and Jr Doe (this is determined by age of the rabbit at the time of the show) Each first place of each of those classes (lets say French) are then judged against each other and the BOV (Best of Variety) is awarded. But to provide a pair, a BOSV (Best Opposite Sex Variety) is picked. If the BOV is male, the BOSV is female. Those two varieties stay on the judging table. The next variety is judged (let's say English) in the four classes (Sr buck, Sr doe, Jr buck, Jr doe) and the BOV and BOSV is picked for that class. This is continued until all varieties are judged (in angora's case, four varieties). There is now potentially 8 rabbits set aside, all best of variety. These are judged against each other, for the grand winner called Best of Breed (BOB) And to give a pair the opposite sex is award the Best Opposite Sex (BOS).
This is what I kept track of all day long :) I had to write it down before I forgot it again.
The logic of these awards is to give breeders an idea of what would make good breeding pairs, based on the judge stating the animals display traits close to the breeding standard. There is multiple awards, to give some depth to the choices. Can't get a BOB for your herd, then go at least with a BOV.
But I have stray far from my original posting idea, my bunnies last hurrah. That is because this was truly my last bunny show and the rabbits showed well. After Sunday, when I can take the bunnies home, they will be officially retired. No more breeding, no more fiber shows, no more judging tables. Just comfy cages, hay to munch, snoozes when needed and the occasional interaction with that human that feeds and grooms them. Life should be good in their old age, and I will still have plenty of angora fiber to spin.