Culling and Judging Polish Rabbits...
...just one girl's recent thoughts.
isn't strictly an article, but rather a collection and expression of thoughts and questions that have occurred to me lately,
concerning that elusive ideal polish rabbit. I've had other questions in the
past, and in a year I will have new ones. Recently, I've been considering these
things, as follows:
judging in any breed has always been inconsistent, and always will be. Judging
is just judging, and just opinions, but oh how we love a judge who shares our
view, and oh how frustrated we can get by a judge who doesn't. And oh how we
can complain about such a judge as the latter! How sure we sometimes are that
we know how to judge correctly, and can accurately determine whether the judge is right or wrong. We always know if the judge "knows what they are doing." Maybe we do, as breeders rather than all-breed judges, but maybe we don't. That's a whole 'nother discussion (though I have plenty to say on it!).
What I mean to say is that I have noticed an incredible amount of complaining about judging lately.
But one thing that I don't often hear polish breeders complain about is the way judges
pose their rabbits. Unlike most dwarf-size breeds, polish are not posed "special"
but nearly in the basic commercial pose, so we usually don't have issues. The standard does state that polish should not be
penalized for being active, and most judges are good with this. However, while
allowing for a more active animal, let's not stop breeding for a correct head-mount.
A rabbit that doesn't have a low head mount DOES NOT HAVE CORRECT POLISH TYPE.
The body does not rise from the shoulders with a high headset. I am seeing
some "active" senior bucks win BOB with very high head-mounts, one of them being figure 1, below. Also notice how the rabbit lacks depth at the hips and has a dwarf-type topline.
what I primarily want to discuss is head/ear/eye vs. body type. Which is more
important, how much should one overshadow the other, or how do we balance it, practically?
And for once and for all, what makes a good polish head???
the latter question first: Below are several pictures of Polish heads. Figure
2 is too long and narrow, most people would agree. But the others are all shaped
differently, yet each would probably have its breeders or judges who call it “nice”. Is Figure 3 too small and round? Is Figure 4 too big and coarse? Which would you call the best?
answer to this question would be to refer to the standard. But how is it possible
to describe something like a perfect polish head, in just words? We must use
terms such as curvature, narrow, dwarfy, etc., and what those words mean, exactly, is a matter of personal interpretation. Everyone has a little different opinion on the ideal polish head, and that includes
judges. At a recent double show, the first judge was giving a lot of “head
too broad” remarks, and picked figure 8 (below) as BOB, liking her head. The
judge said that the heads were supposed to be “football shaped”: narrower at the muzzle and ear base. The second judge that day selected figure 5 as BOB, and many of those same polish had “snippy”
heads. (Not snipey…snippy. Got
it?) True, Figure 8 is a doe and Figure 5 is a buck, but is that enough
to make their heads so different? Maybe it is.
Click Here for the picture. (Will open in new browser window)
the head pictured in the Standard of Perfection could be considered the “perfect”
or “ideal”. But that is an old picture, and in my opinion, Polish
don’t often look like that anymore. That pictured head is rather more refined
than I’m used to seeing. Perhaps that is the problem. Maybe we are getting too dwarfy and coarse in our heads and head-mounts?
(Head + Ears + Eyes
vs. Body Type. Which side of the equation is more important? According to the Standard, it’s a matter of (15 + 15 + 15) vs. 30 points.
But how is this
actually carried out? To what extent will a judge pick a rabbit with only a fair
body, but nice head/ear/eye over a rabbit with a good body but fair head/ear/eye?
I recently showed under a judge who was judging primarily by head/ear/eye. “Some body type, coat, and color is important too,” she said, “but a polish has a lot
of points on that head and it gets first consideration.” (by “head”
she meant head/ear/eye). And sure enough, she picked a buck for BOB that certainly
had head/ear/eye… but that was the only reason I was keeping him around. His
body wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t up to snuff with some of my other polish bodies. The judging just felt different
than what I was used to.
know that I personally should reconfigure my thinking, and when culling transfer some of the emphasis I put on body to the
ears. To me, a rabbit is not a good one unless it has beautiful body type. It’s still “really nice”
if it has a super body, and a decent head, but the ears are long, or thin, or scissored.
This is really showing in the rabbits I am producing. I’m starting
to get some very nice bodies but I’m really letting the ears slip.
way the body is dealt with in the standard, we should treat it more like a whole than separate parts: shoulders, midsection,
loin, hips, hindquarters…you know. I guess polish aren’t a meat-producing
animal, and must be treated like a fancy breed. Breed for a well-rounded, short
coupled, well-filled body, peaking at the top of the hips, that’s not broad and flat over the hips, with a taper, and
you’ve got it! (?)
though not as often as with other breeds, pictures of polish are seen on websites posed with a hand over their head. Of course, this is often the only way we can get the little clowns to sit still enough
for their photo, but I suppose, given the point allocation in the standard, it would be better (more correct) to post just
a head/ear pic than just a body one. Best would be one of each.
Eyeees. Polish just don’t look like a Polish without the eyes. Eyes
are given a whole 15 points, as much as head or ears. Yet, when are polish judged
by their eyes? Sure, occasionally you get the "good bold eye" comment, but does
it ever effect placings as much as head or ears? Breeders seem to take eyes for
granted. Even from the very start of polish standards, the eye has been an important
feature of the breed. So has it been fixed in the polish to the extend that there
is no real need to worry about it anymore? That breeders don’t need to
cull for it? (Seriously… people will laugh at you if you mention culling
for eyes.) Has the good eye been so well fixed that ALL polish have good eyes,
so they in cancel each other out when it comes to judging? Meaning, if specific
points were awarded to each animal’s individual features, would all polish get 14 or 15 of those eye points, making
them no longer a consideration? And therefore, would head/ear/eye really be reduced
to 30 points, to be matched against the 30 body points?
As I wrote this word in my opening paragraph, I wrote it only as part of a cliché. But,
it started me on a new train of thought. Elusive, that perfect polish? Impossible! It is strictly and utterly impossible to produce
a “perfect” animal, simply because of those questions raised in this article (and others). When the standard is only written, no one will have the exact same idea of “ideal”. Nothing can truly be perfect unless it is such for everyone.
the title states, this isn’t an article so much as a collection of thoughts. I’d
love to hear your two cents on what I’ve said! Please shoot me an e-mail