How a Rabbit Show works
These four lovely solid JR does are owned by four NC breeders. Ashley Lewis (Mossy River Rabbits), myself (Shawn Evans, Lily Patch), Tonya Robertson (Carolina Girl Rabbitry) and Christa Barbee (My Bunnies Galore)
Showing a rabbit through ARBA is fun, addictive and rewarding. The process can be a little bit confusing at first, so hopefully this will help out some newcomers to the show world!
First of all, you can locate local shows on the ARBA website at The ARBA website. Most shows can be pre-entered through email, but if it is your first show, you can always look for a show with Day Of entries, meaning you can enter at the show. The secretary will be glad to walk you through the entry process. To email an entry, you will need to send an email to the show secretary with the following information:
Your Name, Email, Address and Phone number
Whether you wish to enter in OPEN (for adult exhibitors) or YOUTH (for children under 18)
Your rabbits ear tattoo #, breed, sex, variety and class you wish to enter
You do not need to be an ARBA member to show your rabbits in ARBA shows, but you will not be able to register or champion your rabbits without an ARBA membership.
As a minimum requirement, you will want to make sure that your rabbit is clean, well fleshed, healthy, well groomed and free of any wounds or parasites. Your rabbit should not be missing any toenails or teeth and should not have a broken or crooked tail. Nose and vent should be free of any discharge. Nails should be trimmed neatly, ears should be cleaned thoroughly. An identifying tattoo should be clean and legible in the left ear. There should be no marks in the right ear unless your rabbit is already registered and has a registration tattoo. It is important that you previously work with your rabbit to be accustomed to being handled, having their sex confirmed, their teeth checked and posed. (See our article on how to pose and evaluate a rabbit for more information on that)
As a minimum, you should take a leak proof, solid bottom rabbit carrier, a water dish, some hay or food to chew on during the show, a comfortable chair, something to hold water and a drink and snack (or money for the vendor) for yourself. It is also recommended to bring a grooming table, pedigree book and grooming supplies, but if you are just starting out and only have 1 or 2 rabbits this is not necessary.
When you first enter the show, you will be directed to an area where you can set up your chair and carriers. It is proper etiquette to take as little space as possible, to ensure that everyone has enough room. Stack your carriers rather than spreading them out, and share grooming space with friends if possible. Make sure you check in with the secretary and pay your entry fees. There are generally several tables with coops placed around the show area. Each table will have a sign on it that lists the order of breeds being shown, and which judge is judging. Look for your breed and take note of the order in which your breed is listed.
Once your breed is called, you will need to carry your rabbits to the table. You will place your rabbit in a coop when your class is called. Do not make any comments that allow the judge to know that you are the owner of that rabbit. Judging is done blindly and the judge should not have any knowledge of who owns which rabbit. The judge will go over each rabbit and call the winners, in order from last to first place. If your rabbit does not place 1st, you can remove it from the table at this time. In English Lops, the breed is broken into two VARIETIES - SOLID and BROKEN . Solid is called first.
There are SIX solid classes. Solid Senior Buck (Adult Male rabbits weighing at least 9.5 lbs) Solid Senior Doe (Adult Female Rabbits weighing at least 10.5 lbs) Solid Intermediate Buck (6-8 month old male rabbits weighing no more than 10 lbs) Solid Intermediate Doe (6-8 month female old rabbits weighing no more than 11 lbs) Solid Junior Buck (Young male rabbits, under 6 months, weighing over 4.5 lbs but under 10 lbs, with a minimum of 21'' ears)Solid Junior Doe (Young female rabbits, under 6 months, weighing over 4.5 lbs but under 11 lbs, with a minimum of 21'' ears).
Each class will have a class winner. Those winners are set aside, and eventually judged together for BEST OF VARIETY. A winning rabbit will be chosen, and then all of the class winners of the OPPOSITE SEX (if a winning rabbit was a doe, then all the bucks will be judged for best opposite sex) will be judged for BEST OPPOSITE SEX OF VARIETY. After solids, BROKENS will be called.
There are SIX broken classes. Broken Senior Buck (Adult rabbits weighing at least 9.5 lbs) Broken Senior Doe (Adult Rabbits weighing at least 10.5 lbs) Broken Solid Intermediate Buck (6-8 month old rabbits weighing no more than 10 lbs) Broken Intermediate Doe (6-8 month old rabbits weighing no more than 11 lbs) Broken Junior Buck (Young rabbits, under 6 months, weighing over 4.5 lbs but under 10 lbs, with a minimum of 21'' ears) Broken Junior Doe (Young rabbits, under 6 months, weighing over 4.5 lbs but under 11 lbs, with a minimum of 21'' ears).
Each class will have a class winner. Those winners are set aside, and eventually judged together for BEST OF VARIETY. A winning rabbit will be chosen, and then all of the class winners of the OPPOSITE SEX (if a winning rabbit was a doe, then all the bucks will be judged for best opposite sex) will be judged for BEST OPPOSITE SEX OF VARIETY.
Then, the four winning rabbits (The two best of varieties and the two best opposite sex of varieties) will be judged for BEST OF BREED. After a winner is chosen as the Best of the Breed, all of the rabbits of the opposite sex will be judged for BEST OPPOSITE SEX OF BREED. The best of breed winner will then go on to show in best in show.
Points and Legs, Grand Champions and Sweepstakes
Winning at rabbit shows can earn you both LEGS and POINTS. Legs occur when your rabbit has won 1st place, Best Of Variety/Best Opposite Sex of Variety or Best of Breed/Best Opposite Sex of Breed, and has beaten 5 other rabbits shown by at least 3 different exhibitors in the process. You can only earn 1 Leg per rabbit per show. A leg goes towards your rabbits grand championship.
To "grand" a rabbit with ARBA, you must complete the following steps.
1) Become an ARBA member
2) Register your rabbit with ARBA (will require a 3 generation verified pedigree with all weights, ear #s, names and variety/color information and a licensed ARBA registrar to confirm that your animal is of show quality and does not have any physical DQs.
3) Earn at least 3 Grand Champion Legs from at least 2 different judges. At least 1 leg must be as a Senior or 6/8 rabbit (They can not all be JR legs)
4) Send all information into ARBA to request a Grand Championship title.
You can also earn POINTS. Points are a little bit different. Points are actually not related to ARBA, but are in fact given from the individual breed club. In the case of English Lops, points are given from the Lop Rabbit Club of America. If your show has been sanctioned with the Lop Rabbit Club of America (someone has paid a sponsor fee) then any points awarded will be sent to the LRCA to be calculated towards a breeder's SWEEPSTAKES ranking. Sweepstakes is a contest among breeders to see who can win the most points. It's mostly for bragging rights and pride, but you do receive an award if you finish in the top 10. The competition is fierce! Besides breeder sweepstakes, there is also the Top Lop competition, where individual rabbits points are calculated and tallied, giving us the rabbit with the most wins for the year.
Points are calculated (For Lops) the following:
lst place rabbit wins 6 points multiplied by # of rabbits in the class,
2nd place rabbit wins 4 points multiplied by # of rabbits in the class,
3rd place rabbit wins 3 points multiplied by # of rabbits in the class,
4th place rabbit wins 2 points multiplied by # of rabbits in the class,
5th place rabbit wins 1 point multiplied by # of rabbits in the class.
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.
Besides the obvious (Showing is SO MUCH FUN), showing rabbits provides an amazingly valuable experience for any breeder. You will be able to talk to other breeders, look at other rabbits, get multiple judges opinions on your rabbits, track your breeding progress, compare your rabbits to other breeders in the area and make connections to determine where your rabbits may be lacking, and learn more about your breed. Rabbit shows can be expensive, exhausting, dirty and addicting, but they are an essential part of breeding quality rabbits. Without the ability to compare you rabbits to other breeders' rabbits and listen to others comments and opinions, you may suffer from what we refer to as "barn blindness". Barn blindness occurs when all you have to judge your rabbits against are your own rabbits. It can be very hard to see faults and patterns forming without outside eyes, and one day you may wake up and realize your program has taken a very sharp turn for the worst.