Turning Others “ON” to Rabbits
A recent post on one of my rabbit email lists mentioned that, unlike horse and dog shows, entries for youth members were up in the rabbit shows they were attending. Those of us who have had the rabbit habit for a while know it’s a great family activity.
After showing horses and large livestock for many years, getting ready for a rabbit show was like a walk in park. We could take a lot of rabbits in our little Escort wagon. When we had the van, we could invite friends and take their rabbits too — carpooling to save gas and I had an extra driver.
As people look for ways to involve their kids in wholesome activities to keep them out of trouble, rabbits are most definitely an option. Rabbits don’t take up a lot of space and a nice breeding program can be managed in one’s garage or carport or even a spare bedroom. How do we get others involved and promote what we know is a great hobby?
Talk about it. Most people don’t know about rabbit shows and when they hear me talking about it, they want to know more. That’s how we got into showing — we were buying cages and the lady asked if we’d been to a show. Show???? You mean the 4-H fair? Nope — shows like dogs, cats, etc. What a trip!!! We warn people though — you either love them or you hate them (no in between).
We have always gotten a lot of calls for pets and suggest folks join ARBA, even if only for 1 year, to get the “guidebook” that is included with a membership. It has tons of information in it and well worth the price of a membership. This is especially true for youth memberships.
Promote local club membership as well — some clubs have lots of members with pets (or people who don’t own rabbits but just like to be around us rabbit folks). Local and state clubs are a wealth of information and it’s nice to have local folks to go to or talk with about problems or situations we may be encountering. AND it’s these local and state clubs that put on our rabbits shows. Without these clubs and people supporting them, there won’t be any shows.
Let folks know about the state and national breed clubs. These clubs work to increase awareness of specific breeds. State clubs often host specialty shows in conjunction with other shows and give folks additional opportunities to get their rabbits on the show table.
Carry applications for these clubs and, if you have a web site, put links on your site to the forms.
Be honest, ethical, and provide education. Nothing gives rabbit people a bad name faster than a breeder who charges exhorbitant prices, sells sick rabbits, or pawns off garbage rabbits as show stock to an unsuspecting newbie. New folks ask tons of questions. Be helpful and encouraging. You don’t need to be their first or only source, but let them know where to look for accurate information — provide a list of recommended reading material or email lists which you know provide helpful, factual information.
A friend is actively promoting English Lops here in Florida . Last year she was typically the only exhibitor at many of the shows. Lately, the number of exhibitors and rabbits is increased and rabbits are earning GC legs. She’s doing this by helping others get a good start and being an educational resource.
Even though the economy is slow right now, I can see a lot of potential for an increase in showing rabbits. It’s something that can involve the whole family and it’s still affordable. Let’s take the time to show new folks how to get involved and let them know about the benefits and rewards of having rabbits as part of their lives.
There’s also a whole other side to promoting rabbits if you’re raising meat rabbits — folks are looking for ways to economically put wholesome food on the table. But I’ll save that for a future post.
- What makes a winning rabbit? (utsandiego.com)