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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ahhh, the after show doubts

It's started, and anyone who has gone to more than one show knows what I'm talking about-
the dreaded after-show doubts.

You look at that rabbit that was promising, that you loved, admired by all- the one that the judges hated, threw off first, grudgingly gave second to last to, or finished mid-class. And you wonder.

"Am I losing my touch? Do I know what I'm talking about?"

I tell people I love to go home and cull after a show, because comments are fresh in my mind, and I don't fool myself with "barn blindness". But that's not always true. I try to remind myself it's only one opinion, or two opinions. I try to remember comments in the past on the rabbit, previous placings and who they were under (trust me, the who matters a lot!). If I remember that a particular rabbit always places low in a class, then yes, that rabbit will be culled.

If I'm on the fence about an animal, I try to go to other breeders for opinions. My favorite for mini lops is Trent, because he really knows his stuff and won't hesitate to tell me, very honestly "This rabbit has no HQ. This rabbit has this list of problems". And I love that! It's helped me not waste time on crap.

I think too often as breeders we're too hesitant to list out faults, because we're afraid someone will think we are mean, or we'll hurt someone's feelings. We don't want to "tear down" the rabbit that is the product of someone's breeding and their hope for the show table.

Consequently, breeders get frustrated with judges and judging, because "well, everyone said he was cute". I've learned that at least 50% of the time "Cute" as an overall statement when evaluating a rabbit means "It sucks". I say 50% of the time, because I know a breeder who describes her own rabbits as "a really cute" buck or doe, then they go on to grand. If you're wanting more specifics in an evaluation, ask for them! Make sure they know you're not going to be mad at your fellow breeder to hear a laundry list of faults (worst case scenario!)

I need to identify problems I am making as well- for instance, I noticed my woolies tend to be small. I like em small. But when I showed Elm, he was the smallest senior buck on the table! Maybe I'm breeding them too small! It happened with hollands, I was getting tiny little 2 1/2 lb balls of adorable, but they couldn't compete, because they always seemed to be dismissed as "too young." With Jersey Woolies, I need to find out the preferred size and try to breed that way, still with overall type in mind, because none of the rabbits on the table were super huge!

And now comes the worst part, where I go outside, run my hands over my animals and decide "what is it about you? Are you going to help my program or would you work better for someone else?" Ahhh After Show Doubts- you make it harder to sleep at night, but so much easier to cull!

*EDIT* I feel like I should add- "when someone says "oh what a cute rabbit", that's not insulting your animal. Or one of the instances I was referring to above. It is when you go through feeling the animal, etc and the only word you get is "um...cute". I realized earlier how often I say something is cute when I really mean it! LOL That's what I get for blogging.

Keep's Rabbitry

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