When preparing to judge a class of Hollands, I prefer to make my initial assessment of the animals and then use the holding pens behind to sort the rabbits. Typically I have two levels of cages behind me. The top level
contains the Hollands I believe could potentially make it into the top of the class. The bottom level of cages contains those that will place in the middle of the class. I work my way from one end of the judging table to the other. When I find a Holland with good type I move it to the appropriate level behind me. I use a coin to mark my place on the judging table in case a breeder tries to place another Holland into the vacated coop. Hopefully by the time I reach the end of my judging table, half of the class will be on the table. “No place” animals are the first judged and removed from the table. If there are additional animals that need to come up at that time then the empty holes on the judging table are filled and the previous procedure is repeated until the entire class has been evaluated.
Before I remove the first Holland from the judging coop, I have a mental picture of how a perfect Holland should appear, and then I start evaluating them.
1. Width between the eyes.
2. Boldness of crown.
3. Crown placement, how the ears hang on the head
4. How the Holland sits in its resting posture.
5. Prior to checking for DQ’s, I pose the Holland.
I do this for two reasons. To start thinking about where they might be placed in the class. Sometimes the act of checking for DQ’s will reenergize a naturally busy Holland and they will refuse to pose. With gentle handling and patience, they will usually calm down when it’s time to place them.
I set the hind feet with one hand and use the other hand to gently encourage the head with a finger under the chin. The key is once the Holland poses, remove your hands and evaluate the head mount, top line and ankles. I have witnessed judges that for speed will skip that last step and thus allow a Holland with poor head mount to be placed higher in the class than they should.
It is important to take a step back and view the side profile to evaluate top line, head mount, head curvature, ankles and crown placement. It is equally as important is to view the Holland head on, to view width of chest, width between the eye (you should never be able to see the eyes head on) and fullness of jowls (cheeks). I also view the Holland from the top, to view the width and depth of crown, to compare the width of shoulders to the width of the hindquarters.
The first rabbits I take off the table are the “No Place” (NP) Hollands. In my opinion these are not a good representation of the breed.
I place the bottom of the class next, which includes Hollands that possess more than one severe body faults, such as narrow head, fine bone, low head mount, narrow body through-out and pinched hindquarters.
The next Hollands I take off are those likely to have poor head mounts, but do have other good qualities.
Following this, I place the “generic Hollands”. These tend to have good qualities but nothing stands out. Typically these are either immature for their class or they lack good bone. Next I place the Hollands that possess the correct type and head structure but with one minor fault, such as narrow width of chest, thin folded ears (usually goes hand in hand with poor crowns), pinched hindquarters or animals that peak early and slope off the hip.
The top of the class is where I spend most of my time, especially when I get to the top five. They should possess all of the qualities that encompass a great Holland Lop. At this point they should appear very similar in type, so assigning the appropriate points to the head, crown and ear help to determine the minor differences. When I need to break a tie I look first at the substance of bone, then the condition of fur, flesh and color.
One of the hardest things as a breeder judge to remember is that you judge the rabbit on what it is on that particular day, and not what you think its potential may be. As a judge consistency is the key. It is very confusing to the exhibitors when the top three Hollands look totally different from each other.