How to Show Hedgehogs
Before entering a show, you should first make certain that the club or organization sponsoring the event has received sanction approval from the International Hedgehog Association. This is very important as it assures you that the show will follow the Society's guidelines; that judging will be conducted following the IHA Standard of Perfection; that the judge has been comprehensively trained, tested and licensed under IHA supervision; all up-coming shows and show results will be published in the Society's newsletter; and, lastly, legs towards Grand Champion Certificates can be earned.
Entry forms for the show you plan to attend are supplied by the group sponsoring the event. It is your responsibility to ensure that all of the information required on the form is correctly filled in and received by the sponsor before the deadline given. Most shows will allow you to enter your hedgehog on the day of the show, but this normally is more expensive than pre-registering and makes the show organizer's job all that much more difficult. If at all possible, pre-register your hedgehog well in advance of the show.
If you miss any information on the entry form, it can create delays and headaches for both you and the show secretary, so it is essential that you understand how to use the entry form correctly. A detailed look at the show form and the terms used should help to avoid confusion. Keep in mind that entry forms vary depending on the show and some shows do not have separate age classes.
After you have filled in your name and address, the first area of information required is CLASS. Class really means the hedgehog's age. Show classes are broken down into 2 basic groups - those hedgehogs that are between 3 and 11 months of age (A class) and those who are 11 months and older (B) class. Remember that when entering hedgehogs in the A category, they must be under 11 months of age at the time of the show.
The next section on the entry form is COLOUR. Do not fill this in unless you are absolutely certain of the animal's colour. If you have any doubts, leave this section blank and allow the judge to correctly identify your hedgehog for you at the show.
The next section is NAME. This is the hedgehog's name and should be printed clearly.
Next is SEX. Although this may seem self-explanatory, it is best to double-check any animals entered - especially those in the 3-11 month category. Even the best breeder can sometimes make mistakes when sexing young hedgehogs so, to avoid embarrassment and unnecessary delays, it is always best to take another look!
The last column on the entry form is for you to tally up your entry fee for each animal. At the bottom of the column is a space for the total.
When entering a number of hedgehogs, it is always best to organize a draft list before filling out the entry form. This will ensure that there are no mistakes. As well, it helpful if you group the entries according to age, sex, etc. Remember too to keep a copy of your entries.
After you have completed the entry form, your are ready to mail it off, along with a check to the show secretary. Remember that although you can enter your hedgehog at the door, you will be charged a higher fee.
All show cages are to be supplied by the exhibitor. Pet taxis are probably the best choice, since they can be securely closed, but most any cage is suitable for a show as long as it is not overly large (2' X 3' maximum is recommended) and has a secure top. Please keep in mind that you will not need an overly large cage for your hedgehog as it is only temporary. Large cages also take up excessive space on display tables and may conflict with the wishes of the show sponsor. Therefore, keep the cages small and simple.
Clearly mark your name and address on the cage, as well as the hedgehog's name in large letters on the front. Cages must be clean and in good condition as the show sponsor has the right to refuse any cages that are dirty. Clean shavings, paper or similar bedding material may be used for cage bedding. A sufficient amount of water and food must be brought to the show by each exhibitor. It is usually best to bring your own water rather than rely on the water at the show facility since the water at some venues may cause upset to your hedgehogs. Both water bottles and shallow dishes are acceptable as long as they do not impede the view of the animal.
Preparing Your Hedgehogs
The goal of all exhibitors is to show off their hedgehogs in the best manner possible. Having a clean hedgehog is one of the best ways to do this. A warm, shallow bath and a thorough toothbrush scrubbing of the quills the night before the show is an excellent suggestion. Trim the and clean the toenails and make sure that the eyes and all orifices are clean and free of discharge. Be sure to check your hedgehog for fleas, mites or any other parasites before taking them to the show as they will be refused entry if any infestation or illness is suspected.
If you have a Snowflake White or Pinto coloured hedgehog, try adding a very small amount of blueing solution to the bath water. It will make white quills appear to be brighter and whiter.
Personal attire should be professional yet casual. The secret here is to keep the judge's attention focused on your hedgehog - not you! Attire that is either too casual or too formal is not recommended.
Since all show hedgehogs must have a friendly, tractable nature, it is essential that they be well handled long before the actual show date. This will ensure that they are on their best behavior when presented to the judge. It will also be helpful when you inspect them for condition and health. Ill-tempered hedgehogs will never do well at the show table.
The big day has finally arrived And to make sure it all goes smoothly, here are a few helpful pointers. First, make certain that all cages of the cages have been cleaned and prepared the night before. Second, arrive on time, or better yet, early. And thirdly, follow the instructions of the show superintendent. The superintendent is there to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Your cooperation will benefit both you and others.
At most shows you will be provided with an exhibitors number. Do not lose it. Listen carefully for your class and exhibitors number to be called during the show. When called, quickly take your hedgehog to the judging table and follow the judges instructions. Do not talk during the judging and listen carefully to the judges comments.
Last Minute Preparations
In most cases you will have a good 3-5 minutes warning before being called to the table. Use that time to your advantage! Pick up your hedgehog and work with it during that time. By the time you get to the table, your hedgehog will be wide awake and ready for inspection.
You will be asked to stand with your hedgehog behind the show table to the right of the judge. Place your hedgehog on the table with it's head facing to the front of the table. Do not let it scurry around. A good way to 'set' your hedgehog for the judge is to block it's forward vision with one hand and tuck it's rump up with the other.
The IHA Standard of Perfection, as well as the Official Colour Standard form the basis of the hedgehog judging and show system. This system is unique amongst small animal show systems in that the judge provides a detailed explanation for his or her decisions to both the exhibitors and audience while judging each class. By doing this, it is hoped that everyone in attendance will leave the show with a clearer picture of what they should be looking for in their own animals.
Hedgehog classes at this time are divided according to age, sex and colour and are generally judged at the show table in groups of 5. When called to the table, you will be asked to stand behind the table with 4 or 5 other exhibitors. Place your hedgehog on the table, with its face towards the judge. Follow the judge's instructions and be prepared to answer questions regarding your hedgehog's age and, if it is an adult female, when and if it was last bred or had its last litter. This information will help the judge make a final decision.
The Standard itself is broken down into several distinct areas with a detailed description provided for each. Although points for size, weight and form are used by the judge to make his or hers final decisions for each class, the actual judging is done by comparison. When judging hedgehogs this way, the judge is comparing one animal against another to find one that most closely matches the Standard, or ideal hedgehog. This sounds far easier than it actually is, but by having a sound working knowledge of the Standard and point system and by carefully comparing one hedgehog against another, the judge can make a sound and valid justification for the final placements.
When called to the show table. hedgehog handlers are asked to stand at the back of the table, facing the audience, and place their hedgehogs on the table for the judge's inspection. Be prepared for questions such as "how old is your hedgehog?" "has she been bred before?" and similar questions related directly to each animal's condition.
Junior hedgehogs are judged before adults, as are males before females. Winners in each age/color category are then called back to the table later on in the show for the judging of the "Championship Classes" and those winners then go on to finally compete in the "Best of Show" category.
The show environment is designed to be as friendly and inviting as possible, so that both veteran handlers and newcomers alike are welcomed and assisted wherever possible.
We look forward to seeing you at a hedgehog show soon!