Judging the Britannia Petite
Rene Goedderz, ARBA Judge
Britannia Petite exhibitors are a small, but select group of dedicated breeders. It is very disheartening to see the vast inconsistencies in the judging of Britannia Petites. Be it lack of knowledge or simple disregard for the standard, Petites are not being evaluated in an equitable manner. In an effort to offer a little assistance in this area, I will attempt to explain.
One considerable oversight committed in judging Petites is evident in the selection of the large, wide-hipped, heavily-boned animals. Most of these larger animals pose wonderfully, and therefore impress judges. I have seen animals of this type make the cut all the way to Best of Breed. I realize that posing is necessary for the best evaluation, but this alone should not be the determining factor in choosing a good Petite. Britannia Petites are to be as the name implies, petite. They should not be huge, non-dwarf horses with hooves, or have small pig eyes, or ears between which one could drive a truck. Large Petites are not Petites for the show room, they are culls. Neither the exhibitor nor the breed gains with the high placing of these larger, non-dwarf type animals. Rather, the breed, as a whole suffers.
Petites are a fully arched animal. The arch starts at the neck (the neck should appear as miniscule as possible--almost nonexistent) and should be a smooth continual curve from the neck to the tail base. The body, when viewed from the side, is to show a good amount of daylight, so to speak, from the belly to the table. Viewed from the top, one should see a slight taper in the body from the shoulders to the hips. This does not mean that the hips of a Petite should be wide. A well-balanced Petite is one that has a very minimal widening of the hips, not one that has hips twice the size of the shoulders. Slightly wider does not mean broad. Petites are not meat producers. Obviously it would be nice if the pin bones were well covered in flesh, but severely faulting a Petite for protruding pin bones is not appropriate. A Petite can have rough hips and still be balanced. Wide or large hipped Petites are not balanced.
The Petites head is to be wedge-shaped. This means that it should not be rounded like the head of a dwarf. A wedge could be defined as a triangular shape with an angle similar to a 1/8 to 1/4 piece of pie. One should be realistic and think of balance. A long-legged, long-eared, long-bodied animal would sport a head that is long and narrow also. Balance is the key. A well-balanced, wedge-shaped head with the addition of large bold eyes will give the proper wedge shape naturally. The eyes make up the widest part of the wedge. Proper bold Petite eyes will give a concave appearance to the middle of the forehead, resembling those of an alligator, thus the expression, “...eye like an alligator.” The eyes are very important. If the rabbit has small pig eyes, the head will not have a good wedge shape.
Petite ears, when viewed from the front, are to be held close together in an upright position. Flanges should not be visible. Ears should be held tightly together with nary any daylight visible. Ear tips are to be rounded with substantial substance, not paper thin. Ears should be set on the head in a manner that gives the appearance of balance, they should not be wide spread. They should sit upright in a very stiff stance.
A Petites front feet should be as narrow and as in-line (straight) with the legs as possible. Toes are not to flare out, nor should they present they appearance of hooves. Small narrow Petite feet are to be connected to fine boned straight front legs. The hind feet are to be in line with the body, not cow hocked. Ideally, the hind feet are to hold the body off the ground.
I will only touch base on handling and posing, as there are numerous methods, and to cover all would take too much space. First and foremost, please do not use the rabbits’ ears as a means to pose them. The ear grabbing technique only serves to make most Britannia Petites crouch down, and certainty prompts them to pull away and refuse to hold their ears upright. After one has the animal posed, it is permissible and sometimes helpful to stoke or tap the ears on the back side. However, unless one feels confident that one knows how to do this, it is better to leave the ears alone. There is another important item to be mentioned in a discussion of Petite judging. Petites are not to run on the table. Petite breeders do not spend hours training a Petite to pose and take them to a show only to have an unknowing judge run them up and down the table. A judge should be able to see if the animal has bad legs when the animal is picked up and turned over for the initial examination. Petites are not scored on their tracking abilities, the reason being that a Petite free to run wherever is a Petite out of control. They will leap in the air, sometimes jumping off the table, with absolutely no regard for their own safety. Broken legs, toes or worse can happen. Judging the Petite is more time consuming than some breeds, but when the animals are well-behaved and trained to pose, Petite judging is a pleasure, not a chore.
This article was written by me expressing my viewpoints as a breeder/exhibitor of the Britannia Petite. Only constructive criticism of this article will be accepted, non-constructive comments should be sent elsewhere.