National English Rabbit Club
Mr Phil Shaw
This is a double first for me, not that many of those 'Firsts' when you start to reach maturing age.
My first scribbling for the English yearbook and by the time you read this will have had the opportunity, with my thanks for your votes, to judge the bucks at the adult stock show. Yes, genuinely very honored to be invited. Keith did not give me a subject to write on so I will try to put across how I see the English rabbits and general observations.
You only have to approach the breed and you can be swamped by its history. English, along with the Dutch and Tans have really pioneered the rabbits fancy from day one. I managed to put the BRC history together for our Millenium year and every page could have had reports on the English rabbits and the club. Runs alongside the Tans, both clubs started in 1891 to 2011, 120 years. Not sure if anyone has put your history together, a nice project for someone to take up. Like a good book, once you start it’s infectious; you want to see what happened the year before or next year whichever way you do it.
You fellas have forgotten more of the English history than I know, although I do like to read it, so with that in mind I will give you a view of the present time, from an all-round judge.
I do get to see a lot of English throughout the year, without a doubt being on your judging panel helps a lot, certainly make for some good classes at time and the quality comes out and the better they are and the more they command their place in the show and challenges. I personally made two Best Fancy in 2011 so they do compete, bring them out if you can in the open show.
I can also sympathise with the other way of thinking, the English National and Area clubs supply you with so many stock shows, why bother with the open when you can show amongst yourselves on an even playing field. You are not up against an unmarked rabbit, a Polish say.
Perhaps you should adopt here what they do in Holland. They have shows for marked rabbits only, purely English, Papillons, Dutch, Himalayan, Harlequin etc., works very well, have been to a few. Your English really are unique in the world, yes not just in Europe but farther afield as well. Our standard tells us the size of the spots should be graduated in size but we really are the only ones in Europe and America they all have far more spots and they are thumb nail size. I have watched the Americans and they have tried over the years to change but it did not catch on.
I feel the American English are mainly topped up from Germany etc. Germans used to shipping them, it’s nothing new they have been doing it for a good many years. Pity we lost Dave Osbourne, he was making good inroads out in the states before we lost him. I know they challenge for a cup out there in his name.
Sorry, wandered a little, back to our rabbits, what a complex rabbits and so many points with virtually the same value, no wonder we get so many differing results. 15 points for the perfect butterfly is the highest one, for markings, two sets, body and loin with 12 points, two sets of 10 for colour and saddle, 8 points for eyes, teat spots 6 points, 5 sets with 5 points each, cheek spots, ears, type, front leg markings and condition, lastly 2 points for back legs. That’s 12 sets of points. Compare that with say the Rex standard, 3 sets of points, fur, type and colour.
Has anyone ever judged on the Continental system where you allot every marking a set of points, be good to try it (help!) You would need a calculator for the final count up. When you changed the standard from the number of spots each side to balanced. It did help no end. We are now certainly looking for a balanced rabbit that scored highly and all markings. Just a thought here, could your press man mention now and again that there are no longer 33 points. How many times at a show, when judging, do you get “have you counted the spots?” You say not necessary now, certainly they do not believe you.
Are English breeders and breeder judged any different from other breed? No I feel we all have our fads. I get to speak to a lot of you and love to hear your comments, got a friend who will not have anything with a blunt fork on the butterfly, then the extra spot on the head, spots clipping saddle, more than one leg spot. Can be 110 point faults in some stables. We had a Tan breeder in the North, passed on now but he would judge a class of Tans on the quality of their ears only, would not look at anything else, only on the ones that had good ears. We all used to tell him that’s 15 points out of 100 but he didn’t care what we said, fads
So pleased you have put the ‘balanced’ in, we know it’s really for the work but I feel counts for the whole English, well that’s my opinion but the only negative is now 33 spots have gone, some are getting ‘sparse’ as I call them, English with only 16-20 spots winning. That’s never going to meet the Wipple drawing.
Only touch on this as I am sure it has been well aired. Putting your rabbits down clean. You are so up against it in the challenges if it’s not prepared enough, clean OK, stained no but got to say I think this is getting through, a lot more shown well and winning.
Will go a little into observations, experience is vital with English. You have a well written standard and the Wipple print of the English helps a lot but for any newer judges a seminar by one of your talented older breeders would I am sure, help a lot, a written description of the standard is fine but it is the same in a lot of breeds, you need to be physically shown, certain this would help a lot as the standard can only go so far. If seminars do not materialize any new judges that are ready could get a private tutor t show them the finer points. A little example on how a standard does not tell you everything; when analysing the Silver standard of years ago, it never mentioned type at all. Silver people fortunately rectified, type is now in their standard.
English along with a few other breeds already mentioned are the backbone of the fancy. For those who know me, they will know I am in my element with the History of the Breeds, standards of them, like to study them all over the world and judging is a good part of it as well.
• History, you have a mountain of that
• Standard is fascinating
• Studying English, ours are unique
• Judging them, always a challenge
Thank you for the opportunity to write for you as well.