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What Do You Think?

Ask the Judge - July/August/September 2009

A member mentioned a bit of frustration while a class was being judged and people were chitchatting at length with the judge. Can the judge fairly view the rabbit while holding a conversation? On the other hand, some judges stop judging to hold conversations of several minutes in length, thereby creating delays in judging the classes. As a judge, how do you handle it when someone wants to talk to you while you are judging a class, or even if you wish to talk to someone? And, can you fairly evaluate the rabbits if you are holding a conversation?
From Jan Coffelt:

I personally think that a little light conversation at the judging table is relaxing while I am judging and sometimes makes the judging more personal and interesting to all in attendance. However the judge needs to keep the conversation short and pertinent to the judging. They must be careful not to engage in conversations that are not relevant to the task at hand. To do so gives the impression to those exhibitors in attendance that you are not paying attention to the animals being examined.
Judges who spend a lot of time talking may be entertaining and may even seem educational, however extra conversation steals time. When you are expected to do at least 250 animals per show, conversation needs to be kept at a minimum.
Exhibitors share in the responsibility of too much conversation at the table. They should hold their lengthy questions until the judging is completed. If questions are asked at the judging table they need to be careful not to disclose who is the owner of the rabbit in question.
From Kevin Hooper:
This is a great question. The answer probably is "it depends". The main thing to consider here is that judges are people too. We enjoy talking rabbits, and life in general. I, as many people know, like to crack one-liners. I can do this while judging without missing a beat. That light atmosphere is one in which I am comfortable, and I can make the correct (at least as I see the Standard) decision. However, if the conversation relates to something that the judge is passionate about, or aggravates them, that can break the concentration and slow the class markedly. For me, that would be discussing an Ohio State football game the day after a loss!
Typically, these types of conversations are seen more at local shows. The bigger and more difficult the class, the less conversation should be heard.
Also, some times an exhibitor may need to talk to one of the judges on a more private issue, or the judge may need to talk to the exhibitor. In this case, this should be done when there is a pause in the action as opposed to stopping mid class for a lengthy conversation.
Like everywhere else in life, sometimes judges may not make the best decision in the timing or length of time that they choose to have a discussion. If this seems to be the norm with a judge, a complaint should be filed with the ARBA.

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