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Show Etiquette

by Sue Hill, Kevin Hooper, and Dick Gehr

Most of the Dutch exhibitors spend countless hours in the barn, figuring out what would be a good cross, watching the babies grow, and then traveling a good distance to a show to get the opinion of a judge and hopefully win some awards. Raising a good Dutch can be a long process and has its ups and downs along the way. the ingredient, though, that binds it all together like a good cookie dough is keeping the entire experience fun.
Several exhibitors at this year's NDS expressed amazement at all the new faces they noticed in the building. It was exciting to see the mingling of the old timers with the new, youth with the open, and the 4-H families coming in to watch a real National show that was within a decent driving distance from their home. With the huge numbers that the Michigan group had entered, the showroom was truly a sight to be seen.
Because our club is growing and adding new members that might not have exhibited rabbits before, Kevin, Dick and I discussed having an article dealing with show experience positive for both the new and the seasoned exhibitor.
The youth shows are always a challenge when it comes to determining what the correct amount of help is from an adult. There is a difference between being a helpful parent and basically doing the showing that the youth should be doing themselves. Hopefully, the youth should be able to handle the rabbit and bring it to the show table. On occasion, the rabbit is having a bad hare day and needs the stronger arms of a parent for safetys sake. What has been a source of frustration for some exhibitors at shows is watching a parent--not the youth who is supposed to be the exhilbitor and owner--groom, cut nails, and basically do all the showing for the child. It certainly is not fair to the other youth that are doing all the work themselves. We have had complaints from parents saying their own child was upset enough to consider not even showing.
Therin lies part of the challenge; the youger the kiddo, obviously, the more involved the parent (or an adult) will be. It is the child that is in the 8-10 year age bracket and beyond that can be doing the actual work that showing entails. The parents and family are the backbone in shaping the youth so it makes sense that the youth exhibitor would be encouraged to put forth the effort needed to be in the winning spotlgiht.
If there are concerns that a parent is continuing to basically show the rabbit for the child that is very capable of doing it him/herself, the show superintendant is one to talk with. Most shows state in their rules that the youth are to handle their own rabbits. If the youth cannot be present for whatever reason (another breed up at the same time, etc), another youth can be asked to show the animal. The parents are not supposed to be the subsitute show person for their child. This includes sanctioned shows as well as 4-H fairs. If you are seeing this happening, it is within your rights as an exhibitor to bring it to the attention of the show committee. It may be that some parents are not aware of how offensive their actions are to others by doing the work themselves that should be done by the child.
In the Open world, it can get tricky. For anyone that has shown for some time, it is hard not to know the judges and be somewhat aware of what they pick from show to show. Judges enjoy saying hello to the breeders and carrying on some short conversations. After all, part of the draw with showing is the socialization with other breeders.
Above all, though, how a particular rabbit that is presently on the table has done at past shows should NOT be openly talked about so the judge can hear. If your doe just came from a show the day before and won her fourth BOB, feel free to openly talk about it AFTER the breed is finished. Your fellow exhibitors will appreciate your tactfulness in waiting to share your recent good news after everyone has had their animals judged. It is nearly impossible to keep the judge unaware of the ownership of all the rabbits, expecially when a class is called and people bring them up and put them in the holes as the judge is looking. Use common sense when showing and proper showroom ettiquette can easily be reached.
The final comment on showing etiquette is sportsmanship. We all like to win, but act like you have been there before. When you win, accept the congratulations and be done. If you want others to know you have won, just hang around, they will usually ask. Just don't take your ribbons/awards and wave them in their face!
As a judge, we do not want to know how an animal did last week, last month, or last year. It matters not. What does matter is how it looks in comparison to the others in the breed that day. And, make no mistake, we hear all! When I am judging and concentrating on how to place a class, I hear all of the mumbles from the area around the table - whether they were intended for me to hear or not (most of the time they are not meant for me). So, as we learned as children, if you don't have something nice to say, keep it to youself!

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