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Show Preparation
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I get lots of enquiries from people asking how to prepare their rabbits for showing, so I thought I would bare all and expose my secrets for all to see!  Please note - THIS IS THE WAY I GROOM MY ANIMALS AND IS BASED ON MY EXPERIENCES!
 
Preparation for a show begins long before the actual date!!!  Diet, handling, grooming and housing play a part in getting your rabbit into top show condition!  The first thing I do to prepare my rabbits for a big date is supplement their diet.  Obviously, the good life is not going to make a rabbit with obvious faults into a BEST IN SHOW winner but it may give your best rabbits that winning edge.  I supplement my rabbits diet weekly, with or without shows on the schedule, but I make sure my show animals do get given extra.  Some great foods to get your favorites in show coat are :- chaff to give an extra glossy coat,  I normally use LUCENE CHAFF but due to the high protein in lucene (turning bunnies into small dumplings), I recently changed to PEA VINE AND CLOVER CHAFF.  Sweet Feed, is a horse food containing molasses, be careful again, this is a supplement feed and you don't want your animals blowing up into small puddings.  Whole Oats, brings your bunnies into good show coat and brings them into good muscle tone.  Again, a word of warning - don't feed too much, oats are a heating food and you don't want to heat your rabbits up too much that they deciede their fur coat is far too hot and go into moult right before a show!
 
House your show rabbits in nice clean conditions so they don't get grubby feet or stained undersides.  Nice clean fluffy wood shavings are an excellent bedding to keep your animals clean and tidy for the show day.  Remember to change the bedding regularly to keep bunnies clean and tidy.  Or you might prefer to keep your show animals on a wire bottom cage so waste drops out the bottom of the cage, elimating staining!  Long coated rabbits should ideally be kept on wire bottom cages to keep their coats in top condition, it's not comfortable for the rabbit to develop knots and matting in their coats.
House your show rabbits in nice clean conditions so they don't get grubby feet or stained undersides.  Nice clean fluffy wood shavings are an excellent bedding to keep your animals clean and tidy for the show day.  Remember to change the bedding regularly to keep bunnies clean and tidy.  Or you might prefer to keep your show animals on a wire bottom cage so waste drops out the bottom of the cage, elimating staining!  Long coated rabbits should ideally be kept on wire bottom cages to keep their coats in top condition, it's not comfortable for the rabbit to develop knots and matting in their coats.

Handling is very important for your show animals.  They must be use to being handled!  They will be tipped upside down, propped and examined by the judged, it's not pleasant for either the steward, the judge or the rabbit if the rabbit is stressed and frighted.  You will also need to work with your rabbit if they need to sit and pose in a certain way (ie: Miniature lops & Netherland dwarves), this shows them off to the judge in the most flattering manner. 
 
Grooming for short coated breeds such as miniature lops, dwarf lops, dutch, polish, netherland dwarfs, etc, is easy.  Dampen your hand slightly and run your hand backwards and forewards though the rabbits coat to loosen any loose hairs and moult.  The rabbit's coat will feel silkier and nicer for your attention.  Start grooming your animals a couple of weeks before the big date.  If your rabbit is going into moult, it is possible to groom him up so that the moult is not hugely noticeable, I have still done well at the shows with animals in slight moult, but if he is moulting out huge chunks of coat I would suggest scratching him and entering him in the next show!  To give your short coated rabbits an extra gleem to catch the judge's eye, rub him down with a piece of silk.

The way I groom my rex coated rabbits is similar but slightly different to the way I groom my short coated breeded.  Dampen your hand VERY SLIGHTLY and run it backwards and forwards though the rabbits coat.  Don't get too much water onto your rexes' coat as it will cause the animal's fur to go curly, a big nono.  The motion of your hand brushing backwards and forwards will add the hand's oils to the rex coat and improve density while dampening your hand will again remove any loose hairs and moult in the coat.  The more time you can spend on grooming your rexes' coat this way the better.  Finish grooming your rex by rubbing him down with either a piece of silk or a piece of raw sheep's wool plucked off the fence wrapped up in a piece of nylon woman's stocking.  (Small tip - don't use too oily a piece of sheep's wool, wash the wool a bit if necessary - judges' don't like seeing oily grease monkey's either!).
 
Part of grooming is also checking and triming your rabbit's nails.  This is very important, the judge doesn't want to be scratched to death by all the rabbits he or she handles!  Nails should be trimmed to just above the rabbit's quick, if you are not comfortable trimming nails find a local breeder in your area to assist you before a show.  Remember - u/5 (under five month old) rabbits should not have their nails trimmed. 
 

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A not very impressed Worf-the-Destroyer in for daily grooming session!

I have left the best for last.  Grooming my long coated breeds.   Having a long coated animal is a big committment and you will need to groom your animal whether there is a show on the cards or not.  I keep my fuzzy lops in wire bottom cages to avoid getting dirty undersides and shavings matting into coats, but they STILL need grooming on a regular basis. 
 
Requirements for grooming your fuzzies include a HAIR DRYER or BLOWER VACCUM CLEANER, a COMB, and lots of patience.  Once a week at least (more often before a show date), bring your animal in and blow into their coat using the hair dryer/vaccum.  This will loosen up the coat and help prevent matting.  This will also reveal any matting or webbing in the animal's coat.  Pay special attention to the shoulders and backside areas.  Matting/webbing in the coat needs to be gently and carefully teased out of the coat starting at the base of the fur.   You do not want to remove too much coat out of the animal!  Use the comb to gently brush out the coat, again, don't brush too hard you don't want to remove too much coat but merely remove lose coat and dead hair.  Young animals in their baby coats will need much more grooming then adults in their full adult coat.  The guard hairs in the adult coat give the coat a slightly harsh texture and prevent the coat from matting so badly (or they should!).  The end product should be one beautiful knot free fuzzy lop!  Roll up BEST IN SHOW!  (Wishful thinking???).

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A beautifully groomed Worf!

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