~ Quality Orange & Fawn Netherland Dwarfs ~
Bred by Barbara Downing
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My trip to the
During the summer of 2008, I spent a total of 8 weeks in the U.K. on business. The trip was divided by a two week break back in the States. I was located in Northampton on my first visit and then Sulihull/Birmingham the last few weeks. These towns are about an hour and a half north of London. I was able to travel extensively during my stay. During my second trip back to the U.K I felt far more comfortable seeking out events on my own and it was my hope that I would be able to attend at least one rabbit show. It was a real dream to attend The London Championship Small Livestock Show!
With the assistance of a couple of key contacts (Nigel Atkinson and Judy LaMarchant) I had good directions and a train schedule. This show use to be held in the city of London, but due to the high cost and other factors it was moved away from the city to Reading’s Rivermeade Leisure Complex located on the River Thames. This is about 1 hour West of London.
I arranged for the train from Birmingham International to Reading and left at 8:00 am. The ride was a little more than an hour and pleasant by rail, although I got off to a rough start when the platform was changed seconds before boarding! The trains in the U.K. are really a pleasure to ride as the track is continuous, smooth and most of the trains are modern and fast. Upon arriving in Reading, I paid £6.00 ($12.00) at the door and entered the hall with great anticipation. I instantly felt at home surrounded by cooping, rabbits, judges and exhibitors. I located the dwarf judging table and started a conversation with a pleasant lady standing next to me by the name of Jane Bunge. Jane was the secretary for their local "stock" show and was able to give me a lot of information on the system that the British Rabbit Council uses.
She explained how the judging was different from our system in the States. The shows are rated (i.e. 3, 4, 5 stars etc.). The award (leg) is more valuable at a 5-star show for example than a 3-star show. A rabbit winning first in its class, can still be deemed unworthy of the rank of that show. The certificate (similar to a Leg) is stamped WITHDRAWN although the rabbit is still given a first place award. The rabbit classes are not divided by Senior Bucks, Senior Does etc. Instead all varieties are judged as a group regardless of sex. Seniors are judged as one group and Juniors as another. At the discretion of the show committee, the rabbits may be grouped further, but in the end the award is still given only at the variety level per the BRC.
At the larger convention shows, the rabbits are cooped and stewarded to and from the tables. The stewards have to wear a show coat. This is traditional show gear and show coats were common for most exhibitors also. The London Show also has a "small livestock" show running simultaneously. In addition to rabbits, there were mice, rats, hamsters, chinchillas and the cavies being judged in an adjacent room. The small carry cages for these other rodents were quite a curiousity for me and I was very interested to see how the judging worked also. The judges were seated at a table and examined the mice and rats in detail. The small livestock area also had various vendors with a lot more pet supplies than we normally see in the States. I also loved the set-up with a "victory row" of cooping along the front stage area. The winning rabbits were then judged for best in show from those housed in victory row. It was quite a showy set up.
Comparing The London show to our ARBA Convention, I would have to say that our convention was quite a bit larger. . . at least three times the size. I would say that The London was more on the scale of our New York State Convention Show. It was a great experience none the less and I will never forget the enjoyment I had in talking with other breeders "across the pond". We really have so much in common and I was especially pleased to discuss the orange variety at length with a fellow breeder by the name of Margaret Snowden. Margaret had just started back into the oranges after a few years break. I would truly love to get a trio of oranges to her somewhere down the road. Best wishes to all those in the U.K. who breed and show our beloved rabbits and I hope our paths cross again sometime in the future!
I repeat here the 5 freedoms from the British
Rabbit Council for your consideration. . . . . .