What Happens in Judging?
The general principle of judging is the same throughout all our Small Animal sections, with the decision being made by one or more appointed Judges.
These Judges have many years experience of breeding and exhibiting and are usually elected by either Specialist Clubs or Governing Bodies.
Each of these Associations produces a list of qualified Judges and it is from these lists that we select our Judges.
This is the first stage of the judging process and at this level it is usual to compare like Animals together e.g. White, Black, Blue etc.
The first class is brought to the judging table by the Stewards, let's say it is the Black Buck. Each Animal is inspected in detail by the appointed Judge and assessed against a written Breed Standard.
Some of the Breed Standards are available by external link here:
These Standards are laid down by Breed Clubs and Governing Bodies, and are normally memorised by the Judge, along with a system of point scoring. Points are normally awarded out of 100 for each Animal and are distributed for colour, features and markings as well as body shape and condition.
For instance, there may be 40 points allocated for body colour;
5 points each for head, feet and ears; 30 points for shape and
15 points for condition - totalling 100 points.
Once the Judge has made his/her decision which Animal is closest to the breed standard, that entry is awarded first place. Awards are usually given to 7th place, but there are often many more entries than there are prizes Competition is very strong and many good quality exhibits fail to receive an award. Once all is complete, the Judge records the results and the Animals are returned to their Show Pens or tables.
After the Breed Classes Judges may next, depending on the Animal Section, choose a Best of Breed. To do this the winning Animals from the breed classes are brought back to the judging table and re-judged, this time to decided which is the best example of that particular breed. For example, in Siberian rabbits the best Black, Brown, Blue and Lilac are brought back with one of these being awarded the title of 'Best of Breed'. The other Animals are placed in order behind the winner to form the 'Breed Challenge'.
Sometimes the Judge will call back some of the second prize-winners if a class if of a particularly high quality. In the Rabbit Section the Best of Breed winners are moved from their own show pens to 'Victory Row' pens adjacent to the Rabbit Stage.
Most of the Animal Sections will include a 'Section Challenge' towards the end of judging. Here, all the 'Best of Breed' winners compete to win a particular Section, which in the case of Rabbits may be the Best Fancy, Lop, Fur or Rex.
In Mice it will be the Self, Tan, Marked, Satin or Aov. Quite often, this Section of judging is very time consuming as it is more difficult to compare different animals together. An example of this would be in the Fur Rabbit section, where the Best Beveren, Chinchilla, Havana, New Zealand, Siberian etc all compete to be awarded 'Best Fur'.
Best in Show
From a final line up of four or five animals (the winners of each Section) a specially appointed Best in Show Judge will choose their final Best in Show winner. In some cases this Animal will have beaten several hundred entries in order to be awarded this title, and together with the acknowledged high profile of this Show, makes this particular award the most coveted of all amongst Small Animal Fanciers.
Best in Show is judged and awarded towards the very end of the Show.