Northern California Angora Guild

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Convention Judging Coops, Old and New

"Ohio" Style judging coop.

"KW" Style judging coop.

Betty says,

"Over the 21 times that I have attended the ARBA conventions, there have been many changes in the styles of judging coops.

The one that carved in my mind was in 1988 in Madison, WI. The judging coops did not have a cover, and it was an eye-opener for me, as I had never seen such judging coops in California. The exhibitors were given the job of putting their hands on top of the rabbits to prevent the rabbits from fighting or kissing each other. I recall hearing ouches and ahhhhs often when the rabbits nicked at people's hands.

Then there was and still is the "Ohio" style coops. They were brand new in the 1992 convention, I recall. These coops are owned by the Ohio State Club and rented out to various convention hosts. The coops have wooden floors that sloped down toward the side where the exhibitors would stay; there are two doors, one opens from the judge's side and another opens from the exhibitors' side.

The top picture was taken before judging started in Grand Rapids this year. Judge Judy was waving Hello and the coops were fairly clean. Not long after that, the coops were full of wool, rabbit poops and peeps. The worse was the rabbits sliding and slipping in the pools of urines.

When the judging first started, we were all very polite and timid, standing quite a distance from the coops. Judge Judy said, "Hay, guys, you need to stand closer to the coops; the floor slopes and back opens, rabbits are going to fall off the table." We moved closer to the coops. Within a few seconds, a rabbit fell off the table from the back and I caught it mid air. Others were joking, "Betty, you are so good at catching things, you should join a sports team." Well, if the sports team were about catching rabbits, I'd probably be very good at it. If it were about catching balls, I would not do well if my life depends on it.

In the second picture, Judge Judy is judging using the new style judging coops made by KW cages. This is the kind that we in California are familiar with. ARBA has bought enough to be used in conventions from now on. The coops are wire bottom, metal siding and can be folded into flat pieces; they are a wonderful design for cleanliness and durability.

You may ask why would the wooden "Ohio" style and "KW" style both being used during the judging. Well, here is the interesting fact.

In the Fort Worth convention last year, there were limited KW coops, so only a few breeds got the new coops. Needless to say, none of the wool breeds got the new coops. We struggled with the "Ohio" coops hoping that we'd get the new coops in Grand Rapids.

When we got to Grand Rapids, we saw that most breeds got the new KW coops but Angora and American Fuzzy Lop still were given the wooden "Ohio" coops. It just did not make any sense for the wool breed to use the wooden coops while the short hair meat breeds were given the wire bottom judging coops. The wool breed exhibitors all carry own wire bottoms for the holding coops while the exhibitors of short hair breeds prefer to have their rabbits sit on the shavings or straws. They probably would not be unhappy with the wooden judging coops as much as the exhibitors of wool breeds.

It took two days to judge the four breeds Angora. On Monday, all judging coops were in use; so the Angora judging had to be done on the assigned "Ohio" judging coops. On Tuesday, most of other breeds were done judging with lots of "KW" judging coops sitting idle. After two classes, Angora people decided to take the "KW" coops from the Jersey Wooly table and put them on the Angora table to continue judging the last two classes and the wool classes.

Our readers now have a chance to see the two styles of the judging coops in Grand Rapids.

It is to be hoped that next year in Louisville, KY that we won't be seeing any of the "Ohio" style judging coops anymore. They are poorly designed, unsanitary and obsolete."

After the above was posted, Judge Judy writes to add her comments,

"Betty: I wanted to make a coop reply but it wouldn't post for me. So here it is: As your judge, I would like to say, in my best professional manner, the old coops suck and the new coops are great. I worry about the safety of the animals I am handling...this was not so good to see them drop into space out the back when I opened the front. And my, is it a treat to turn over a big white English that has just soaked up half gallon of urine! I vote for new!"

Friday, November 09, 2007

Allen Writes From Africa

Allen in a traditional Boubou posing with a member of the Dieng family.

Allen in front of the Medina Mosque in Kaolack.

Children playing alongside raw sewage.

We are taking a break from convention memories to see what Allen is doing in Africa. Here are three recent pictures and his report,

"My time in Senegal is going very well. I was very fortunate to have been invited to attend a traditional Bapetem for a new baby in my Senegalese family. I traveled by a very hot, long bus to Kaolack in central Senegal. The trip took 6 hours because the bus stopped everytime a new passenger raised his/hand along the road.

My Senegalese father grew up in Kaolack, and his entire family is there. His father had two wives (both are still alive but he is dead), and 13 children. All of the children are grown, and have children and huge families of their own. Thus, the Bapetem was enormous. Kaolack is extremely poor, and the images of children playing next to sewage on TV came true for me. It was extremely sad, and I was very emotional on Monday in Dakar because of the things I saw. Never the less, the Baptem was an awesome experience with singing, dancing, and excellent food. I wore a traditional Boubou, and was nearly the guest of honor, even considering the event did not involve me in the least! The Senegalese family accepted me as their own, and renamed me "Alioune Dieng".

On Sunday, Muhamet (Senegalese father) took me to the Mosque of Medina in Kaolack. It is very large and one of the most important Mosques in Senegal. We even got to visit the bedroom of the Cheikh who founded Kaolack and the Medina Mosque. This was a special event for Muhamet, and he prayed upon entering. The ideas in my head on ways of improving the lives of these people, specifically the Dieng family, are constant. The poverty of the Dieng family and others in Senegal is beyond understanding for Americans.

I cried for a long time yesterday when I wrote my mom and thanked her for the life she and my father gave to me. Senegal hit me hard."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tracy Presents Satin Angora at the Judges' Conference

Tracy, president of NCAG, has improved Satin Angora tremendously in recent years. As a result, she is being recognized for her knowledge in Satin Angora.

In the convention, Tracy is the only non-judge panelist on the official Judges' Conference. She did a power point presentation on Satin Angora; it was very well received. It's a well-deserved honor for Tracy to be a part of this prestigious conference. To read her article and to view the power point presentation, go to

In the top two pictures, Tracy is doing the presentation. The third picture is Tracy with Betty and Joan who is the sponsor of Broken Satin Angora.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Double Blind Judging

Betty says,

"I received an e-mail asking how would I not be able to tell Armando when he won the colored junior buck class. Wouldn't I know his ear number?

In conventions, the left ears are not to be looked at. Instead, the judges read out numbers from the right ears. For those who are not familiar with the ARBA convention, this sounds strange as all rabbits have tattoos in the left ears, not in the right ears.

When we first check in at the time of arriving at the convention, we are given a check-in package with a check-in sheet that includes the ear numbers and coop numbers of all the rabbits entered. There is a permanent marker pen in the packet. We use this permanent marker to write in a coop number in each rabbit's right ear. If it's an English Angora in coop #10, then write EA10 in the rabbit's right ear. When the judge places a rabbit, the judge either reads out the coop number or shows the right ear to the table clerk for the helper to read out the coop number.

Since I did not have the check-in sheet with me during the time of judging, I could not remember all my rabbits' coop numbers. If the rabbit is still on the table to be considered, its coop is empty. Therefore, happiness is to see an empty coop during judging.

Another difference between conventions and local shows is the method of using "runners". In local shows, we all carry our own rabbits to the judging table. In conventions, a little tag with a coop number is given to a volunteer to go to the coop to pick up that rabbit. Owners do not carry their own rabbits to the table, not even after the class winners were known.

Here are three pictures taken by Candy H. of IN. The first picture is Vicki J. of MN, volunteering as a runner, carrying Sevenah to the judging table after being fluffed up for the final selection of Best of Breed. The second photo is Sevenah and Armando sitting in the coop waiting to compete for the Best of Breed and Best Opposite Sex.

The third photo is the Best of Breed and Best Opposite Sex of English Angora being on display.

Candy, thanks for the photos."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Huge Classes of English Angora

Betty says,

"We do not see a large number of English Angora in local shows. National conventions are the events to see large classes.

This year in Grand Rapids, the classes were huge comparing to what we normally see. The quality of the rabbits were very even, which made the judging that much more difficult.

In the top photo, waiting in the coops to be judged are a class of white English Angora. In the second photo, a class of colored English Angora are also waiting to be judged. They all had more than enough wool to fill the coops; and especially from the back, it's really hard to tell one from the other.

One of the funny thing happened was that after the first place colored junior buck was selected, everyone was looking at each other and asked, "Whose rabbit is it?" I said, "I don't know." "It's coop #49." "Let me go and look." After I went to the coop, it was empty and it was Armando's coop! I said, "Yeaaaaaa! Mine." I was very happy but also embarrassed, I could not tell my own rabbit!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Friends at Convention, Part II

Betty says,

"I have attended 21 ARBA conventions consecutively since 1987. I love to compete, but the most fun is to see all the friends from all over the country.

When we were all standing around on Wednesday morning to support and to watch Joan's broken Satin Angora presentation, it was a good time to take pictures of each other.

At the top, I am with Candy and Judy L. Candy is the most "durable" Angora breeder of all time. She started her Angora habit in 1972, full 10 years before I did. Though she does not show regularly, she is still very active in the Angora world. Judy L. is from UK; she comes to the ARBA convention regularly, usually rooms and travels with Candy.

In the second picture, I'm with Tracy, Jacque, Linda Sue and Joan. Though the presentation result was yet to be known at that time, all felt very good about it. We were all very optimistic about the presentation.

In the third picture, I am with Charlotte whose beautiful black French Angora has won the Best of Breed. It's too bad that I did not get a picture of this beautiful rabbit.

In the fourth picture, from left to right are Judy O., Alicia, Deb and I. Judy O. has beautiful Giant Angora, Alicia's French Angora are regular winners and Deb's English Angora won Best In Show many times. It's wonderful that we all can be friends and at the same time compete with each other. Friendly competition is the force to improve our breeds.

These are a part of the wonderful world of Angora breeders. There are many that I did not get a chance to have their pictures taken."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Friends At Convention, Part I

Betty says,

"After a good nap, I looked out the window, it was a very nice day!

I went to the airport to pick up Chris O. who flew in from MA. She had a very short haircut, would not let me take a picture of her then. We did some grocery shopping and returned to the showroom.

It was a pleasant surprise that I received a visit from Judges Josh, Briony and Rusty. They wanted to talk English Angora. They were the judges in the December 2006 shows in Japan in which Yumiko won double Best In Show with her English Angora white doe Chu's Carera.

I took out several of my rabbits to show them various stages of wool condition, body type, texture, and other fine points of English Angora. They pointed to a colored senior doe 'in the upper coop' as their favorite. I took her out for them to examine and they were very impressed with her. They all had good eyes, this senior doe 'in the upper coop' was Sevenah who went on to win the Best of Breed and Best Overall Wool.

We spent about an hour together and I enjoyed every minute of it; I hope they did too. The second picture is Judge Josh, ARBA Dist. 6 director, and I; the third picture is beautiful Judge Briony from Kansas and the fourth picture is me with Judge Rusty from Tennessee who is also the state representative.

Not too long after the visit from the three judges, Mr. Nakayama from Japan came by to say Hello. If I thought my trip was long, it was nothing compared to his trip. He was up for over 48 hours before arriving in Grand Rapids.

It really takes dedication to get to the ARBA convention each year. "