picture of Litter

Showing English Angoras

Betty Chu

It is quite often that new rabbit owners ask the same question, "I'd like to go to rabbit shows, where do I start? Where do I get information?"

Joining Clubs

For a new rabbit owner, the first step is to join the American Rabbit Breeders Association (Eric Stewart, Executive Director of ARBA, P.O. Box 5667, Bloomington, Ill. 6l702, $20.00 per year). Membership fee includes four issues of Domestic Rabbits per year. In Domestic Rabbits, there is a show schedule which lists shows around the nation by state. The list is fairly complete, except for the shows which are too late for the publication deadline. When you see a show that you are interested in, write for a show catalog. If you do go to that show, you do not have to write again for the subsequent shows which are put on by the same club since your name will be on its mailing list. If you do not go to the show or have skipped a show or two put on by a certain club, you have better write for a catalog again when you become interested. It costs money for the clubs to send out show catalogs. Do not expect the clubs to send show catalogs indefinitely.

For Angora owners, the next club to join is the National Angora Rabbit Breeders Club . In the first year, a new member receives a guide book and 4 issues of Angora News. With a renewal you receive 4 issues of Angora News. In order to receive "points" from shows attended, one has to be a member of NARBC.

picture of Geena The third club to join is your area Angora club. There is a listing of these clubs in Angora News. One of the biggest area Angora club is my local club: Northern California Angora Guild (Betty Chu at BettyChuEnglishAngora@yahoo.com, Secretary of NCAG, P.O. Box 1431, Morgan Hill, Ca. 95038, $10.00 per year). The NCAG has close to 200 members and its newsletter Matts and Fluff is published four times a year. There is a show schedule for people residing in California/Nevada area. The membership of NCAG, however, is not restricted to the California/Nevada area. Matts and Fluff contains the one of the most complete information about caring for and other aspects of Angora rabbits. Each issue of the newsletter contains approximately 20 pages. If there is no area club in your area, start one. It is the local club which puts on shows and related activities. Shows and related activities raise the public interest, thus result in more breeders and participants. Clubs are as good as the people who run them. It is import to volunteer your time and effort to promote your breed. The NCAG started in 1982 with 12 members and has grown more than 20-fold in eight years. Northern California/Nevada area has some of the most active breeders in the nation, I feel, is due to the interest raised by this local club.

Entering in Shows

Since many shows require pre-entry, when you receive the show catalog that you requested, highlight the entry deadline date first. You may wish to wait until a day or two before the deadline to send in your entry. The deadline date is about one to two weeks prior to the show date, it is difficult to ascertain the condition of your rabbits on the date of the show. By delaying the entry as long as possible, you may reduce the cost of substitution or no shows. It would be better for one to stick to the deadline even though at times the show secretaries are lenient about the postmark. One should note, however, that the city, county and state fairs are very strict about enforcing deadlines.

When filing out an entry, always either print or type to avoid any confusion. The following information should be contained in the entry form: Breed, variety, class, ear number and entry fee. If you wish to enter a 7 months old chocolate buck in a show, fill in the form as follows:

         English Angora - Colored       4BC21     Sr. B    $2.00
If you wish to put him in the wool class, fill in another line:
         English Angora - Colored       4BC21     Wool     $2.00
A rabbit to be entered in wool class has to be entered in the regular class, but not the other way around.

Preparing for the Show

One to two days before the show, thoroughly groom your rabbits. Do not expect to do much serious grooming in the showroom on the day of the show. The reason is that the showroom is usually quite crowded. It is seldom that you have enough space to spread out your grooming table and grooming tools. In addition, there is always a chance that the English Angora will be the first breed of the day. There have been times at all breed shows when English Angoras were called to the show table at 8:00 a.m. before breeders had a chance to get all their carrying cages into the showroom. The trick is to arrive early so that you can get them in place and still have time to fluff them up.

The following equipment are needed for a show:

  1. Carrying cages: Bigger and higher carrying cages are better for English Angoras - at least 12x18x14 for each hole. An English Angora with a show coat needs more space. (I also like to give the rabbit a little more room to stretch out and sit up. Some show people argue that smaller carrying cages make the rabbit feel more secure in the car while driving, thus less chance of stress or injury. Since I started showing in 1982, I have not had any experience of rabbits being stressed out or injured due to large carrying cages. On the contrary, at times I go to shows back to back for several weeks. Some of the shows require overnight stays in motel rooms. My rabbits hold up very well.) If you are considering a two-hole or three-hole carrying cage, make sure that the divider is solid. Otherwise, you may encounter the unpleasant surprise of one rabbit's coat being chewed up by its next hole neighbor after arriving in the showroom. Furthermore, the carrying cage should have a water-proof tray so that the rabbits will not soil the exhibitor's car or the showroom floor. Since we are talking about a show, let us put on a good show: carrying cages should be clean and free of odor. They should be thoroughly washed and lined with clean newspaper. If the distance of the show requires long driving or an overnight stay, make sure that fresh newspaper lining is placed in the trays before going into the showroom so that the cages have no offensive odor. Do not use shavings or straw; these will stick to the English Angora's wool. Many times in the showroom I have seen a new show person working very hard to get shavings or hay off the English Angora's tummy. They had made the mistake of using the wrong lining material.
  2. Feeders and waterbottles: I like to use plastic bird feeders for my carrying cages. I use clips to secure all the feeders to the carrying cage the day before the show. If the feeder is not secured, the rabbit will play with it constantly in the car or in the motel room. Not only does it mess up the car or the motel room, it also makes a lot of noise. I fill the feeders with the regular amount of rabbit food the night before. It is worthwhile to buy a separate set of small waterbottles for shows; it saves a lot of time in the morning when getting ready to go. Put the filled waterbottles in a water-proof container; do not hang the water bottles onto the carrying cages during transportation. They drip while the car moves.
  3. A chair or a stool: A rabbit show usually lasts 8 hours. It is hard to stand on your feet for this long; it is even harder to groom a rabbit with no place to sit. Bring a lightweight folding chair or stool. Don't bring anything big or bulky since there is usually very little space available in the showroom. picture of table
  4. A grooming table: This is a convenience item, not a necessity. Most of the grooming can be done on your lap, but a good fluff-up can only be done on a grooming table with the right height. Try to find one which is the right size and height for yourself, nothing big or bulky though. Remember that you have to carry it from the car to the showroom and back; plus, there isn't much space in the showroom.
  5. Grooming tools: An slick brush is a must. In addition, I like to bring a bulb-tip brush, a wide-tooth steel comb, a fine hair comb, a small size slicker for feet and cheeks, a pair of scissors, a little bottle of cornstarch, a blower. In case the rabbit has a dirty bottom, the pair of scissors, cornstarch will be very helpful to have.
  6. A Roll of paper towels and/or facial tissue, a couple of strips of Band Aid, a bag to pick up the wool from grooming, and enough rabbit food if it is a far away show.
  7. An extra pair of pants for yourself in case the rabbit wets on you.
  8. A cooler which contains some food for yourself, some treats such as pieces of carrots for the rabbits(given after being judged). If the weather is expected to be hot, enough small frozen ice bottles for the rabbits in the afternoon.
  9. A dolly to transport all of the above in between the car and the showroom.

Day of the Show:

After arriving in the show room, I usually walk around the showroom to find out who the judge is, where the judging table is , what order is the judging will be in so that I can estimate the allowed time for grooming. Returning to my spot, I hang the small waterbottles onto the carrying cages and start grooming and fluffing.

When it is time for the English Angora breed to go on the table, it usually starts with senior bucks, either colored or white, followed by junior bucks, senior does and the last junior does in the same variety. (In the ARBA National Convention, the order is different: senior bucks, senior does, junior bucks and junior does. White variety is usually judged before the colored variety.) An exhibitor is responsible to see that his rabbit be on the judging table at the appropriate time, though some shows provide carriers. It is to be noted that an exhibitor does not have the right to ask for rejudging of the class in case his rabbit misses the judging; he can ask the judge to give comments when the breed is completed though. There are usually three people working at the judging table: an ARBA licensed judge, a ramrod and a clerk(writer in some areas). A ramrod is the person who receives the exhibitors' rabbits and checks the ear numbers and sends the rabbit off the table when the judging is done. A clerk/writer writes down the judge's comments and placements onto comment cards. After an exhibitor hands the rabbit to the ramrod, he should go to the opposite side or outside of the table from the judge. At that time you will be very anxious to see how your rabbit is doing. There are some important manners to observe: ARBA rules disallow anyone to identify his rabbit at the judging table. Do not point to your own rabbit or ask the next person, "which one is yours?" You can get yourself or the other exhibitor in trouble of having the entire entry disqualified by the judge. Do not make comments such as, "Look at that one, how pretty!" or "Yuk, what an ugly rabbit!" The judge is more knowledgeable than we are, let him do his job. Besides, that "ugly rabbit" does have an owner, it may be the most beautiful rabbit in the world in its owner's eyes. If your rabbit wins the class, do not make too much of a commotion, since the rabbit will have to compete for the Best of Variety and possibly Best of Breed. If yours loses, do not be too disappointed; this is one judge's opinion and there is always another show. Most importantly, don't cry! (Yes, I have seem people cry at the judging table many times!)

If you are the fortunate owner of the Best of Breed rabbit, stay for the Best In Show selection. If not, you are free to leave. Before you leave, check to see whether you have any trophy , rosette or other prize to pick up. And of course, you do want to pick up your comment cards.

When I have completed my showing and am ready to leave, I load my carrying cages, grooming table, chair, ...etc. into my car. Then I usually walk back to the showroom one more time to see whether I have forgotten something. Also I 'd like to make sure that my space is reasonably clean. Angora exhibitors sometimes are not very well-liked in shows due to the fact that some leave behind messes of wool. The wool is very hard for the show sponsors to clean up since it sticks to the broom and flows everywhere. It would not be too difficult for one person to clean up his own space before leaving the showroom. Show sponsors are all volunteers; we should be considerate. If I happen to see someone on the show committee before I walk out of the show room for the last time, I usually thank him for the hard work. Sometimes a little thanks will go a long way.

Now that we have gone through a show, drive home safely.

Some Additional Thoughts

There are two more things which are related to shows that one should be aware of. One of them concerns the meaning of a "Youth Exhibitor". ARBA has specific rules governing the category of "Youth Exhibitors". I quote:

In my showing years, I have seen adults using their children's names to enter in youth shows; I have seen adults entering the same rabbits in open show and in youth shows using kids' names on the same day in the same building; I have seen adults grooming Angoras in the showroom of a Youth show. These practices are all in violation of the ARBA rules. In addition, such practices place the bona fide youth exhibitors in a disadvantageous position and thus discourage them from staying in shows. Many adults argue that they did not know the rules. I am thus quoting the ARBA rules here in the hope that these kinds of practices will not happen again in the future.

The second thought that I have concern staying in hotels/motels while participating in far away shows. It is not easy to find a motel which allows pets to stay in rooms. I have had experiences of going to more than 10 motels before I could find one that would accept my show rabbits. I try to be very careful not to leave behind anything which would upset the motel maid or motel manager. Sometimes I am down on my hands and knees to pick up rabbit pellets in the carpet. If I find a place that I can stay, I want to be able to go back. I have heard of a case where an exhibitor let all her rabbits out in the room and messed up the carpet so badly that the motel manager swore not to let anyone with rabbits stay in the future. Be considerate to the motel personnel, and more importantly, don't burn the bridge for other responsible exhibitors.

Copyright © 1998 by Betty Chu. All rights reserved
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