How to Show Rabbits. Find Tons of information about showing rabbits for 4-H or FFA or at other ARBA hosted rabbit shows across the country.
What is a rabbit show?
Many people are surprised to find that there’s a thriving hobby in this country called showing rabbits. Really, they ask, do people show rabbits like horses or dogs? The answer is yes! That is, it’s somewhat like horses or dogs.
Rabbit shows are unique in that the animals don’t compete against each other so much as the breeders do. In horse or dog shows, each animal is very important; you can be a successful showman even if you have only one horse or dog. In rabbit shows, breeders bring their current “show string” of bunnies to compare them to their competition, then take them back home and put them in the breeding pen to produce the next generation of winners.
Rabbit shows are not based on performance; they are judged almost entirely on the animal’s physical appearance. Judges compare the bunnies to each other and to the written ideal of each breed in the Standard of Perfection published by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). Classes are divided by breed, color, sex, and age. The smaller rabbit breeds have two age classifications: junior (under six months) and senior (over six months). The larger breeds also have an intermediate division, (between six and eight months) and the senior class is over eight months.
What does a good show rabbit look like?
Not every rabbit can be entered in a show. All show rabbits must be purebred, and not every purebred rabbit will be of a quality to do well. There is vast variety in show rabbits — some are long-limbed and hare-like, others are short and round, some have lopped ears, others have stubby upright ones, some have woolly coats, some have plush coats – but there are a few traits that they all share. All show rabbits must have excellent fur and flesh condition; their bodies must be smooth and solid. They must be balanced in body, head, and ear shape and length. Every breed has its own ideal qualities, and it can take some time to learn exactly what to look for as you select your production animals. All rabbits entered in a show must have a permanent number tattooed in their left ear.
The best place to learn what to look for in a show bunny is a rabbit show itself. There you can watch judges evaluate hundreds of animals and give remarks about each one. There you can talk to breeders, many of whom are happy to show you their animals and teach you how to apply the Standard. And the showroom is even a good place to buy a few bunnies to start your own adventure.
How do you enter a rabbit show?
Shows are hosted by local clubs that are affiliated with 4-H or the American Rabbit Breeders Association. ARBA shows are divided into two categories: open and youth. Anyone may show in the “open” category, but only those between the ages of 5 and 19 can enter in “youth.” No single rabbit can be shown in both open and youth on the same day. Usually only youth members are allowed to enter 4-H events.
To find a rabbit show in your area, visit the ARBA website or get in touch with your local 4-H leader or extension office. Then contact the show secretary and ask for a flyer or catalog. This document will give you the details on how and when to enter. Some shows are pre-entry, meaning that you need to mail or email in your entry before a certain deadline. Others are day-of-show entry. All shows accept entries in the same format: they need to know your name and address, and a few facts about each rabbit you enter, namely the breed, color, sex, age classification, and tattoo number. The only other thing you will need to provide is a small entry fee, usually about $3-4 per animal. Happy showing!