This is the value of rabbit contests like showmanship and ARBA royalty: that discipline and self-improvement are as important to success as a knowledge of bunnies. Expertise in rabbit raising will benefit young members for a little while, but many are the 4-H’ers that used the skills they developed through these programs to excel in other areas, long after the bunnies were gone.
If you are a young rabbit breeder and would like to improve your scores at fair or convention, check out the following article that outlines some of the skills that define a top rabbit showman. These are qualities that any participant can develop when they want to!
7 Qualities of a Top Youth Showman – Part I
1) Experience. Experience doesn’t have to mean that you’ve been doing 4-H for years. In fact, many kids have won contests like rabbit showmanship, breed ID, or even ARBA royalty the very first time they entered. Why? Because they practiced, practiced, practiced! A few months of determined drilling will beat years of half-hearted effort in real competitions. When you do get a chance to compete, always look for at least three things you learned from the experience and can improve on for next time.
2) Carefulness. It was the Louisville convention, 2008. Feeling sure of myself, and enjoying some rivalry with my teammates, I got careless during the Breed ID competition. I made a couple stupid mistakes—like writing “solid” when the French Lop was obviously a broken. Well, when the awards night came, I was 2nd runner up in the royalty contest, never to be Queen. Haha, I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me, but I just want to illustrate the importance of carefulness when you are competing. That year, the scores of the top 5 Queen contestants were less than 30 points out of 1000 apart. That’s how close the competition is; that’s how vital it is to proofread every application, and double-check every answer! It’s fairly common for the seasoned competitor to get careless and be beat by a newcomer that really wants to win.
3) Cheerfulness. Do you enjoy doing these contests? The judges can tell! They usually know when an exhibitor is doing the contest because they care, and when they are just doing it because their parents expect them to. Showmanship judges consider it refreshing to see a contestant with a relaxed, cheerful smile and a real interest in what they are doing. I know that nervousness can often crowd out the cheerfulness, but practice reminding yourself that you know what you are doing, and that you are doing something you really really enjoy! This may sound silly, but you can practice being cheerful at home. Doesn’t it make your family members happy, too, which in turn only makes you more cheerful? The same thing happens on show day! Happy competitors make for happy judges!
Tips 4-7 are coming next time on the Rabbit Smarties Blog!
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