Thursday, January 26, 2012
The Loin or Midsection – an Evaluation of English Angora Type
The mid-section or loin of the rabbit is the second item that must be evaluated. When evaluating this, the things I evaluate are
1. Roundness. I want a rabbit with a round body, just a little more than a quarter section of a basketball.
2. Smoothness. The rabbit’s type should flow smoothly when I touch it, and it should feel as if my hand is tracing the smooth lines of a basketball.
Roundness. When feeling the topline of the English Angora, it should be ROUND. You should be feeling the shape of a basketball without flat spots. I will tell you that most English Angoras are not truly round and seem too flat. When you feel one that is truly round, you will know what that means and you will love it. The roundness should go all the way from the shoulders, along the topline to the floor, feeling, once again, like a basketball (maybe a tad bit flatter and stretched out across the top, but the roundness should be similar). Make sure the roundness continues over the hindquarters, many rabbits have a flat, sloping spot over the hindquarters, which is undesirable. When you put your hand on that hind end it should feel like you are putting it on… can you guess…. a basketball. If you are unsure as to what roundness feels like, go to a show and talk to an established breeder and ask to feel one of theirs that has round type (or, I know the basketball imagery is getting lame, the teenagers reading this blog can comment on this in the comment section, but feeling one will put in your mind what roundness is).
Smoothness. When you feel the topline, it should be smooth, with no parts of the rabbit sticking out from the body. For many English Angoras, the general problem with smoothness is a lack of depth over the hindquarters, a serious fault. What does this mean? In a sense, when you feel its type, the spine over the hindquarters is too low, causing you to catch the hips. You want the hips to be well below the topline and flat against the body. I will tell you though that this is a common problem and you may go to your barn and find this to be a fault that every one of your rabbits exhibits. However, even if it has infested your herd, you can take steps to breed it out. When you breed, only keep those that lack this fault for future breeding, and do not breed those that carry it. After a generation or two, you may still get a few in each litter that have the fault, but eventually through selective breeding you should reduce this down to just a random occurrence. If all of your rabbits have this fault, you will need to get one that does not have this fault into your herd and be very strict at not breeding any subsequent generations that have this fault. This fault is very noticeable to judges, and you will not succeed with English Angoras exhibiting this problem. But be fair when evaluating, as some young rabbits go through ugly stages before they have their true type. It is quite common for rabbits to exhibit this fault at two months, but have excellent type at three or four months. The rabbit should not be faulted for going through an ugly stage unless it proves to produce this fault in subsequent generations.
In sum, it is very important that any rabbit you keep for breeding has these two qualities 1) roundness 2) smoothness with good depth over the hips. When feeling for these qualities, do keep in mind the basics of posing from my previous post. A rabbit can have great round and smooth type, but if it is sitting even slightly crooked underneath that wool and you don’t notice, you are not giving it an adequate evaluation. This is very important, bad posing utterly destroys good type, and could send your future best in show rabbit to the barn of your spinner friend for a life as a fiber bunny. Not a bad life for the bunny, but it could cost you a pretty trophy or two.
Go play some basketball and then go to your barn and evaluate the roundness of your type!