(c) Gryph- if you repost this article, please post with a link back to my website.
Each ARBA-sanctioned show offers a catalog, usually downloadable from the show listings on the ARBA page. The catalog will list the rules for the show, expectations, useful information, and the details for each show as well as the entry form. It’s important to read over each show catalog, and it can even be helpful to print a copy and take it to each show with you.
Only purebred rabbits (or rabbits that aren't purebred but meet the SOP for the breed) may be shown. Rabbits do not have to be pedigreed. They must be tattooed in their left ear (judges can spot sharpie from a mile away). They also must fit the weight guidelines for breed, sex, and class, and be an accepted variety.
Some shows require that you register in advance via mail and/or email, while some will allow you to enter the day-of-show. For shows not allowing day-of-show entries, late entries are not permitted. Register as soon as you can to be sure that you get all your paperwork in correctly. Day-of-show entries usually cost more than preregistered entries.
If you enter the day-of-show, you’re going to have a lot more paperwork to fill out so whenever possible entering ahead of time is best. You can email all of the information included on the entry form in the body of an email instead of scanning the form. It’s important to fill out your paperwork as carefully as possible. If you get something wrong, you may not be able to change it. SOME shows will allow changes the day-of-show but it will cost you. When allowed, the only two things that can sometimes be changed are sex and ear number; anything else you are out of luck. Changes CANNOT EVER be made at the show table. They can only be made by the show secretary.
Not everyone is going have all the ideal gear for rabbit showing right off the bat. The most important thing to bring, aside from your rabbit and any paperwork along with your entry fees, is a method of transporting. Rabbit carriers are best. Not only do they keep your rabbit safe but they keep your rabbit from standing in his feces or urine.
Carrier or method of transport
The correct rabbits (check ear numbers)
Bottles or crocks water
Familiar water from home
Feed (if longer than a one-day show)
A list of rabbits you are showing with ear number
A copy of your entry email or entry form
Directions to the show
Entry fees- either check or exact cash
ARBA membership card, if you want to register rabbits
Pain reliever and a bottle of water- trust me on this one
First aid kit
Grooming supplies (brush/nail trimmer/etc)
Unscented baby wipes for clean-ups
Trolley or cart to help transport the rabbits
Business cards for your rabbitry
Practice makes perfect! Handle your rabbit often. Flipping it upside down, touching ears, tail, feet and legs, and posing it are all important so that when the judge handles your rabbits they don’t freak out. Learn how to pose your rabbits appropriately for their type. Even if you aren’t perfect at posing, the practice will help your rabbit to stay calm while the judge is handling it.
Check your rabbit over before you get ready for the show to avoid any nasty surprises. Do a complete look-over, checking teeth, nose, eyes, ears, nails, and sex organs. Be sure your rabbit is clean and appears to be free from disease. Sick rabbits should NEVER, EVER be taken to a show under any circumstances. Be sure teeth aren’t chipped or broken and give your rabbit a quick nail trim. Make sure your rabbit doesn’t have cracked, sore hocks- bleeding hocks is a disqualifier. Make sure your rabbit doesn’t need to be groomed- check for mats. Check to be sure that your rabbit has an identifying tattoo in its left ear that is legible and readable.
The night before the show, give your rabbit one more look-over. I recommend being packed with everything but the rabbits loaded up ready to go. Double check the show catalog to see what time the showroom opens. Typically this is around 6 am, with the show starting at 8 or 8:30. Try to be there right when the doors open to ensure you are able to find a comfortable place to set up and not be rushed.