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Raising rabbits teaches responsibility

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From left, Courtney Owens, 14, and Addison Jones, 15, hold rabbits Monday during the Rabbit Show at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair. (Alex Ross Photo)

People young and old filed into the Rabbit Barn where wood shavings and chatter filled the air on the first day of the Eastern New Mexico State Fair.

In what has become a tradition about as longstanding as the fair itself, youngsters ranging from 8 to 18 years of age lined up in hopes of walking away with one or many prizes in several different categories. Some were holding rabbits, others just observing from the sidelines.

Laura Ridgeway, rabbit superintendent, said that this year a total of about 340 rabbits were entered into the show, a number that is “about normal.”

One of those youngsters standing just a couple of feet away from the judges was Addison Jones, 15, who like so many others enter rabbits in the competitive arena.

Jones entered three Rex rabbits into the show: Oliver, Lila and Snoodle. The showing of rabbits is something Jones said she has been doing for about three years, though she used to enter animals into other shows before her time became too pressed.

Since becoming a competitive swimmer, Jones opted to cut back on the animal shows because they were too time consuming. Rabbits, she said, were less time consuming to care for and prepare for competition.

“So I decided to do rabbits because I still wanted to stay involved in 4-H and still swim,” Jones said.

Aside from monitoring the diet of her rabbits, Jones said one of the biggest tasks is ensuring that their fur remains clean and brushed. That is something not always easy, especially in the summer heat when their coats begin to shed.

Beyond the thrill of competition, Jones said raising rabbits has taught her about responsibility and sportsmanship.

“And those are the two main ones for me,” she said.

In Monday’s show, Jones did not walk away with a prize for any of her three entries. Though winning is nice when it happens, she said it is not everything.

“I just enjoy being with my friends, showing my rabbits and doing what I like,” she said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.