ARBA Convention Tips
by Dwayne Neal
1) Order your Show Catalogue - This might sound silly, but I can't tell you the number of times the deadline has crept up on me. Yes, I did get mine already for this year. In fact it came in the mail last week which is plenty of time for me. Getting your catalogue early ensures that you will have time to plan for events, get hotel rooms, estimate your budget, etc. Make sure you read the information carefully since each show seems to always have a unique twist to it whether it's a special event where enrollment is limited, where there is relief on defining exactly which animals you are allowed to show (ie: giving you the opportunity to pick the best in a category just prior to the show and then submitting it's ear number when you arrive), or, knowing when your breeds are going to be judged or when your national clubs are having their Convention meetings. There is so much going on during a Convention that you want to make sure you are "in the know" so as to best optimize your time. Now, just in case you get to a point where you do forget to order on time and still want to enter, try to contact someone that you know has received a copy and ask them for a copy of the entry form. Copies of the forms usually do work and often you are able to fax and/or overnight mail to make the entry deadline. Though I do not recommend this over getting the official catalogue, it is something to keep in mind if it means the difference between being able to attend or not.
2) Check In at the Holland Lop Booth - Don't forget that the Holland Lop booth is where you want to get ASAP! If you do nothing else, remember that this spot is where you must check in at and is where you can always find help, information and a place to find one of your own kind! Don't be afraid to ask questions to whose manning the booth. They are there to help and want all Holland exhibitors happy!
3) Transporting Your Bunz - Even though Convention is very much like many of the other shows you travel to during the year, there are some things you might want to consider due to the distance you may need to travel and the length of time your bunz will be away from home. As far as carriers go, no doubt you can use the same ones you use your around but with some minor improvements. Due to the length of time on the road if you have a lengthy trip, you may want to add feed and water cups with a surrounding of some hay for them to enjoy and hide in. I like to add an alfalfa cube along with a carrot. The cube is viewed as a treat by my Hollands and so is the carrot while it later provides extra moisture during ingestion. If you are flying to the show you may want to add not only the extra feed and nesting materials, but you may want to reinforce your carriers by hog-ringing the tops as well as the pan clips so they do not come loose. Additionally, you may want to add protective covers over the tops of the carriers to provide safety from the elements as they are moved from buildings to jets, jets to jets, and while they are in transport where shifting items can potentially fall on them.
4) Bring a supply of food - Even though the Convention offers plenty of feed and water for your Bunz, I have found that it is wise to have your own cache. I have found that bringing a partial bag of my own feed as well as gallon jugs of my own water has really helped ensure that my bunnies do not go off their feed/water. Plus, I save a lot of time from not having to run around at the huge convention floor looking for a particular kind of feed. I simply use a small airport luggage handcart, load the feed and the water jug, and then just do my rounds making sure every animal is tended to. And, how do I make sure of that? Well, see the next item!
5) Use a checklist and markers - Yes, to make sure you do not overlook any of your bunnies, which by the way is a very easy thing to do at a huge show where there are thousands of rabbits and where many of them look just like yours, use a daily checklist and find a way to mark the cages your bunnies are in for easy recognition. I have found that is I use a copy of my show entry with columns marked for each day, I am able to feel confident that everyone of my bunnies has been cared for by simply marking them off as I tend to them. Believe me, this does work. Also, to ease the searching process as you wander mindlessly up and down the rows and rows of rabbits, you may want to incorporate a way to mark your cages. This can be done in many ways and you just need to pick the one that works for you. Some breeders use special nametags, others use brightly colored tags or ribbons and some even use small flags and/or stickers for their water bottles. The only caution I want to make on this is to be considerate of others around you and don't add something that is overbearing and/or potentially irritation to a cage next to you. Remember, if the rabbits are going to be able to get at and chew whatever you use, they will, thus, make sure you use something that can stay out of their reach and make sure it won't poison anything if eaten!
6) Protect Your Babies - If you are concerned about the possibility of someone handling your animals after hours for whatever reason you may want to consider locking the cages in some format. This is more of a deterrent than anything else since any cage can be broken into, but it does add a level of security. Many things are used from small padlocks, to hog rings, to plastic wire lock ties. Remember if you use some kind of locking you must make sure you have them unlocked when the judging is occurring since the runners will need to get your animals out and on to the show tables when their numbers come up. Two other kinds of protection I see that I have not used is the addition of cardboard partitions and wire floors. The wire floors are added like little self standing stages to help keep the bunnies off of the wood floors and to make them feel more at home (since most Hollands are raised on wire). The partitions are placed in between the sides of the cages to isolate the animal for whatever reason from the ones around them.
7) Use common sense - I guess the name of the game is to do as much of what you can and/or are willing to do to limit the amount of stress on your animals. Plus, don't forget to limit the stress on you, too! If you aren't happy, chances are your bunz will suffer too!!!
The Hollander Fall Issue October 2000