Showing Rabbits For Beginners: Show Etiquette, Do’s And Dont’s Of The Trade

So you have made it to your first show! How exciting! Oh..no, wait you are scared to death. Take a deep breath you can do this. Everyone in that showroom had their first experience at a show. It seems worse than it really is.

I want you to take that nervous ball of energy and push it as far down as you can and remind yourself over and over that you’ve got this.

showing rabbits for beginners show etiquette tips and tricks

If you want a full guide on how showing works and the flow of everything then make sure to read this post.

Right now I am going to share with you some written and some unwritten rules about attending a rabbit show whether it is in an ARBA show or a 4-H Rabbit Program show. 

Talk To Other Rabbit Breeders

I am a massive introvert so I promise you this one isn’t easy. But I find that most people who show rabbits are pretty introverted themselves. 

If you find someone who seems to be on their own, go talk to them. Ask if they have space for you next to them. Talk to them about their rabbits, that is something everyone at the show has in common!

You don’t have to take to each other all the time but let me tell you that if you open yourself up to talking to people you will be amazed at the connections you can make. 

Are some people a little “clicky”, sure? But if someone gives you the cold shoulder keep moving. There’s no reason to let it mess up your day.

Californian rabbit in a cage at a cooped show

Ask People Questions If You Feel Clueless

Rabbit people LOVE to talk about how they do things or their breed. So ask questions, learn, and see what is working for other people. Ask them what rabbit pellets they feed, learn why they do it and what they are looking for when they feed a certain feed. 

You are going to feel clueless for a while but then all of the sudden it will just click and make sense. This post is meant to inform you of how a show runs and help you learn some of the unwritten rules of showing.

Tips For Setting Up Your Space At A Rabbit Show

When you first get to a show take a quick walk inside and get a feel for the layout of the building. Where are people are already set up and look for where there might be space for your rabbits. I always take my camp chair and grooming table with me so I can use those two things to mark my spot if I find a place that works for me.

Sometimes with a long drive, getting there early is not an option, but the sooner you can get there the better. When you are ready to go into the show, pull out only the necessary items.

Take things like:

  • A chair (if they are allowing them)
  • Your rabbits in their wire cages that they travel in.
  • And your grooming table.
  • A jug or container for clean water.

Large Wheeled Show Cart

The key to getting a good show cart is LARGE WHEELS!!! You are most often going to a fairgrounds kind of set up and small wheels will get thrown off by the smallest little pebble causing you to have to maneuver a huge load of rabbits.

Get This Awesome Cart On Amazon

You will have plenty of time after you are registered to get the rest.

French lop doe posing like she would at a show

Sign Up Early And On Time

People who are running these shows are doing a lot of work and they don’t get paid. So don’t put them out by being late to sign up. Have as much info as possible ready to go and check in as soon as you have the necessary things in your seating space.

A lot of shows these days are having you pre-sign up online so this makes for a MUCH FASTER and easier sign-in. But if the show is not doing an online sign-up option then have your rabbit’s info on a list at the very least. 

My Rabbitry Must Haves

[lasso type=”list” category=”rabbit-care-supplies” link_id=”5351″]

Never Bring A Sick Rabbit

Never bring anything but healthy rabbits to a rabbit show. If you are questioning the health of the rabbit just don’t bring it. There is nothing that will scare people more than seeing a rabbit with some kind of sickness or external parasite. 

Let’s just be honest, you could even get some cold holders if the health issue is pretty obvious. Rabbits go down hard and they go down fast. So it is understandable if people are very protective of their herds.

English lop in a cage at a cooped rabbit show

Seating And Rabbit Carrier Area Edicate 

Crating areas (the area where people will stack or not stack there rabbits in the carriers) can become a “free for all” and very frustrating. Trying to set up your grooming table and carriers can be a challenge.

Many people will unstack every carrier so each rabbit is easily assessable which is great and I get it. BUT when you are not allowing space for others because you have 50 rabbits spread out. That’s not cool. So just an FYI don’t do that.

After you find a place to put your cages. Set out your chair and grooming table. As close together as possible but with just enough space to move around. A grooming table looks something like the image below but if it is not huge you can use anything you want. The reason people don’t use side tables often is because they are too short. These grooming tables are often waste high.

Stack your carriers next to the grooming table so the rabbits can be placed quickly on the table for easy grooming. That will save you from a lot of bending and twisting.

You will know if they are not allowed they will most likely make several announcements asking you to put them away to make more space.

Be sure to leave a path to exit your caging area. When the breed you are exhibiting is called to the table you do not want to have to climb over 50 carriers and humans along the way.

Sometimes you only have inches to walk through and you don’t want someone tripping over your cages and hurting themselves or your rabbits.

In short, be considerate of where you are setting up your carriers and grooming table in the showroom.

french lop doe posing like she would for a show

General Show Room Etiquette

Don’t open, close, or adjust doors in the showroom that affect light/airflow for others without checking with the show committee for permission. There could be a very good reason for them being set the way they are.

WATCH YOUR KIDS! – Don’t let the run through the showroom, roller-skate, throw things or be disruptive to others around them. Some rabbit breeds are naturally jumpy and might injure themselves or their owner if a ball goes flying past their face. 

Never get into the carriers or rabbits that are not yours. – Even if the rabbit is just sitting on a grooming table ask before you pet it. Some rabbits are worth more than you might think. OR it could be a rabbit with a tuned and you might get a chunk taken out of your finger. If a rabbit is prepped and ready to go and you goofed up its fur without knowing.

Try to remember to bring your own grooming supplies. –  People do not mind lining out a few things, but letting people use everything in your grooming box after a while can be frustrating when you are trying to take care of your own rabbits.

Clean up after yourself and your rabbits. – It is not the show manager’s job to clean up after everyone. Rabbits have accidents, don’t ignore the urine on the floor so someone else can slip and fall.

Be helpful – If you see someone struggling with a heavy load don’t stand and watch. Offer to help or at least get out of their road.

Supplies To Tattoo Your Rabbits ID Number

(An ID number tattood in the rabbit’s left ear is required for showing a rabbit)

[lasso type=”list” category=”rabbit-tattooing-supplies” link_id=”5352″]

Show Table Etiquette

Help people keep their rabbits in if needed – All show tables will have some variation of what is in the image below. There are dividers to keep rabbits separate and normally there should be some kind of wire on both ends. BUT some shows don’t think the expense is warranted and think its a great idea to leave both ends open. That is NOT helpful in a situation when rabbits are grumpy and or flirting with each other.

rabbit show table with wire over each space to keep rabbits in.
  • Be polite to both the judge and the people writing down the results. Often times the writers are trying to hear what the judge is saying and are a bit stressed.
  • Don’t point out your rabbit to the judge or talk about recent wins your rabbit had while at the table. Just stand quietly while the judge looks over the rabbits. The judge is not supposed to know who owns each rabbit he or she is judging.
  • Pay attention to when your class is up and get your rabbits to the table on time. They may skip you if you are too late.
  • Clean your rabbits before putting them on the show table. No one wants to handle a rabbit that smells bad or has poo stuck to them. While you should bring your rabbits that are in the best body condition possible you would be surprised at how some rabbits show up to the shows. 
  • DO NOT! Change that natural appearance of the rabbit in any way. This can cause you to be excused from the show and or banned from showing completely.

Tools To Keep YOur organized

1. The tote is the perfect size to pack just what you need for the rabbits at a show and keep it all organized.
2 & 3 Whether you are selling rabbits and need to have pedigrees on hand or you are trying to keep all of your show papers in order these binders are great options.
4 . Bunji cords are a God send when you are on your own trying to get a lot of little things maneuvered around. They will help keep everything on your show cart and keep you from taking a lot of trips. Premium Bungee Cords Heavy Duty – 20 Piece in Storage Jar Includes 10″, 18″, 24″, 30″, 36″, 48″ Bungie Cord Bundle

Always Have A Rabbit In The Appropriate Age Group

Besides the breed there are two ways that the rabbits are separated within that group.

Age and body weight. 

Using french lops as an example they have Jrs, Intermediates or 6/8, and Srs. 

Rabbits that are considered seniors are anything over 8 months of age. Now the problem with that is a french lop that is 9 months of age still as 3-4 months of growing to do.

It can be really tempting to keep them in the younger group so they do not appear smaller than the rest of the Sr rabbits. Even though they are not a fully mature rabbit this is against the rules and if someone caught on to what you did you will lose trust with those around you even though someone on the show committee didn’t catch it. 

ARBA Shows Vs 4-H Shows

This can be difficult because the goal of rabbit shows should be to help get 4-H members ready for the real thing a lot of 4-H county’s do run their programs differently. 

Some separate the rabbits by commercial breeds and the fancy breeds and have them compete against each other in the same judging instead of doing the breeds separately. 

Some will have many different rabbit projects rabbit showmanship competitions, and even separate shows for market rabbits (rabbits for meat)

Hopefully, these tips will help you have a less stressful time because I know trying to do things “right” will make your brain feel like it is going to short circuit with everything that is going on.

Take a deep breath and know that everybody had to start from zero.

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