much ear control! Ears carried poorly. The ears are
airplaning away from the head. Appearance is spoiled by
It seems these comments
keep coming up at rabbit shows whenever Hollands are in
competition. These are comments that I put in the
"so-what" category. For years I showed rabbits and heard
the comments similar to these from judges. My response
was, "So what do I do about it?
When you get
disparaging comments about Holland ears, you may ask the
same thing. So what do you do? First of all, judges need
to be educated to tell you what you need to know. If you
believe that they do not do that, show them this
Judges have no need to
comment on Holland Lop ear carriage. If it is bad,
controlled, or perfect, you already know it! Any
exhibitor who mistakes poor ear carriage for good ear
carriage either 1) doesn't show Holland rabbits, 2)
doesn't read about Holland Lops, 3) doesn't look at
pictures of Holland Lops, 4) raises some other breed of
rabbit, or 5) doesn't talk to or associate with other
Ask judges instead to
comment on the Holland Lop crown, and the comments will
sent you home knowing what to select for in future
litters. If the judge is good, he or she will comment
The side-to-side width of the crown.
The front-to-back depth of the crown.
The top-to-bottom depth of the crown, and
The overall structure and definition of the crown.
I have broken each of
the above four categories into two sections. The first
is what you should see, and the second is why you should
see it (structure is first, function is second).
Before I begin, let me
say that whether you are culling at home, or the judge
is evaluating on the show table, the ears must be
relaxed. Rabbits' ears, including the Holland, were
intended to have control. Muscles attached to the ear
base were meant to rotate the ears to hear. Survival in
the wild depended on it. The only way to get no ear
control is to sever the muscles or the nerves that
activate the muscles. When we started playing with
genetics to develop the Lops, we were performing an
unnatural act regardless of now much eventual pleasure
we got from doing it. To expect the ears to be lifeless
However, a rabbit will
not try to exert control over the ears if it senses no
need. Thus, when you examine the crown and ear carriage,
you must catch the Holland at a fairly restful
condition. Easier said than done.
At a show, I visually
examine the crown while the Holland is still in the
holding box. (Once I bring it out, it tries to control
the ears, and distorts the crown's appearance.) At home,
I just observe the Hollands in their cage. To do
otherwise is not to make the best use of your time. So,
get the Holland relaxed to observe its crown, and then.
Side-to-Side width of the
Structure: The crown
should wrap from behind the eye, up over the top of the
head, and down behind the other eye. It must not be
narrow, and should appear to sit on the head like it is
secure and cannot be knocked off.
Function: The wide
crown is a basal ridge of cartilage. All this means is
that it is where the ear base begins. It is not a socket
but should be a ridge across the head. When it wraps
from eye to eye, the ear exits the ear base behind the
eye. It is already pointed downward as it starts to
develop. This dimension (side-to-side width) is the
first trait to develop of the ones I will discuss. It
must come first or you will be distorting the appearance
later when you have to come back and work on it.
Front-to-Back Depth of the
Structure: Without a
doubt, a close second in importance to side-to-side
width is front-to-back depth. A minimum width of 1 inch
should be your goal.
Function: As the ear
exits the ear base (crown), its shape is determined. A
narrow front-to-back depth gives a narrow start to the
ear. Thus, the ear usually comes out wrapped like a tube
and then must flare to its full width.
Perform an experiment.
Get out a Holland with a shallow front-to-back crown
dimension. Place it in front of you and grasp each edge
of the ear (one hand on each edge) at the point where
the ear exits the base. Now, gently pull the edges,
making the base of the ear spread out against the crown.
If you did it
correctly, the bottom half of the ear moved downward
toward the jaw. Thus, a deeper front-to-back measurement
on the crown will cause the ear to wrap slightly under
the jawbone giving a horseshoe appearance. That's the
function of a deep crown.
Top-to-Bottom Depth of the
dimension is not structurally important to ear carriage
but it is important to overall appearance. This concerns
a little about cartilage, but a lot about fur. The
appearance of mass, given by dense fur on the crown,
helps immensely to add to the "massive" appearance we
Function: As I said,
the reason we want this structure is to provide the
appearance of a massive animal. We can make the analogy
of a buffalo's horn base, or a bull's head. That is
really the effect we desire.
Overall Structure and Definition
of the Crown
Structure: The overall
impression should be wide, thick, and massive All the
previous dimensions must be in concert to provide this
impression. The location of the crown on the head tends
to be a talking point so I'd like to address it.
In some places, judges
say a crown has "slipped". They mean it is too far back
on the head. In my mind, the only way it can be too far
back is to be on the neck. The real situation is not one
of crown location, but rather one of head shape.
When Hollands start
getting the head shape of Fuzzy Lops, the forehead is
more massive. This is the aspect that makes the crown
appear to be back on the head. Usually a crown that is
too far back on the head (or "slipped"), is really too
narrow in front-to-back depth, and that may be coupled
with a poorly shaped skull.
As far as a discussion
of the Lop crown, I think I have exhausted my topic.
However, I must remind you exhibitors of a fact of life.
If your judges are doing a poor job of explaining their
reasons for placement (NOTE: I did not say a bad job of
judging), you must educate them.
Xerox this article, hold a seminar or visit them at
home, but make the effort to educate the judges. Don't
complain to the HLRSC officers, Standards committee, or
directors until you do what you can to correct the
problem. I hope this has helped.