17,000 rabbits vie for the top spot of “Best in Show” | The Nature of Things

This is the largest annual rabbit show in North America where over 17,000 rabbits and their owners gather, for the glory of winning the title “Best In Show.” Our community is huge. and a lot of people don’t know that, you’know, people especially think of dog shows, and horse shows and don’t realize there’s such things as rabbit shows. Getting these little stars ready for their big moment in front of the judge is no easy task. These dryers started blowing at the crack of dawn. But for these rabbit lovers, it’s all worth it. It’s an escape from the real world. The rabbit shows and all that is my hobby. It’s how we relax. There you go, yes! A lot of us, we don’t even know what these people do for work in real life. But, we know they love rabbits. My full-time job was an economics professor. And as you guys know, economics professor is sometimes a little bit boring. And angora rabbits are so much more fun than economics. All of these rabbits were bred for the limelight. Just like with horses and dogs, show rabbit bloodlines are poured over and tweaked, all in an attempt to rear a future “best in show” winner. And perfection does not come cheap. The rabbits are not like the $25 pet rabbits you can buy at the feed store, some of these are like, a thousand bucks, sometimes more, I saw one in an auction last year go for like $5,000 so people will pay a pretty penny for ’em. But money does guarantee you a place on the podium. As far as our judging goes it’s all according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association book of standards. Each breed has it’s own set of set of standards which is divided into points. The judge is looking for the best representation of that breed. It’s very competitive, very specific… “very good surface colour from front to back” “…he’s smaller in bone…” …the two biggest sticking points on her are I just think she fails a little in body type, she’s got tremendous width in the shoulder, but she’s flat, she doesn’t get that nice general arch and roundness I’d like to see on her. …on the lower hind quarters… …tremendously conditioned animal, beautiful butterfly… Posing makes a huge difference on the rabbits. All the rabbits have different ways of being posed. Some people may scrunch them up farther, some may not scrunch them up enough, and then, when you have like, Belgian hares, they’re a completely, full-arch, posed breed so you want them standing up on on their back legs slightly, but then their front legs out straight, right in front of them. Same with Britannia petites. The English lops are a “mandolin semi-arched shape” y’know, you want to see what a mandolin would like if it was sitting on its side cut in half. That nice, arched roundness. One thing about rabbit shows, is you don’t know whose animals belong to whom, there aren’t handlers, so, it’s actually very fair and that’s one of the things I love about the rabbits. There’s not the politics, this is a pure fancy and you don’t have to have a million dollars (Crowd: Awwww!) or be a famous movie star who’s a co-owner in a particular dog, you can be a backyard breeder who just puts in the work you love your animals, and you can win best-in-show at the ARBA National Convention.

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