Thank you, this is so helpful. I can identify what the Standard of Perfection wants in the way of a given color pattern, and I can work with hair/fiber texture and type. I can check over the spine for body condition. But I have no clue how to evaluate the body. When judges talk about shoulder and such, I have no idea what they are looking for. What things are you looking for when evaluating body, and how do you do that?
I am glad it is helpful!
Type involves looking at (or for angoras, feeling) the shape of the rabbit and judging the relationship of the parts to each other, to achieve what's called "balance." In compact and commercial types, smoothness in the transition from one area of the body to another is ideal. In a compact especially, the body looks almost spherical, with the body being short and with relatively little difference from shoulder to midsection to hindquarter, when viewed either from the top or the side. A commercial type, being significantly bigger, has more length than a compact, and usually a bit more of a taper in width from shoulder to midsection to hindquarter, again when viewed either from the top or the side. In both types, it is generally desired that the width of the body section match the depth of the section, i.e. the shoulders/midsection/hindquarters are each as wide as they are tall.
English Angora SOP only has 15 points out of 100 on body, but it still describes a compact body type. Most compact SOPs have points given to body type without dividing the points preferentially among hindquarters/midsection/shoulders. That's a little different than a commercial type, which gives hindquarters the most points, the midsection and shoulders having slightly less. Commercial type is much more uniform across breeds, while compact breeds vary in the desired depth and amount of taper from shoulder to hindquarter.
Still, compact and commercial types share a lot in common, so this post on assessing depth and depth of loin on commercial type should be helpful to start: Crossbreeding meat rabbits? Yes or no?
(Nov 9, 2022). I intended to follow up with a discussion/examples of assessing loin width, as well as midsection and shoulders, but haven't done that yet. I'll move that task closer to the top of the list.
E.A.s are to have a very slight
taper from shoulders to hindquarters, meaning they are almost as wide at the shoulders as the hips - that's a bit different from some other compacts and from commercial types. But in any compact, there should be essentially no shoulder area per se, rather the rise of the back should start directly behind the ears, with no space between ears and curve of the back, no break between shoulders and midsection. Posing the rabbit correctly is important in assessing type. Here are two rabbits with long shoulders, the second also having what I'd call weak or narrow shoulders, plus a third doe that did not
have a long shoulder but could be made to look like it when posed improperly:
The thing about angoras is that because of their dense wool, they can be harder to assess by feel and nearly impossible to assess visually. The best angora judges I know judge the wool first, and only then move onto assessing body type, since it involves kind of manhandling the wool to feel the body underneath. (In fact English Angora judging often barely brushes the surface of body type, since wool accounts for so much of the points, making type more of a tie-breaker.) But you can see from the first two photos above, that if you put your hand over the top of the shoulder and moved it back towards the hindquarters, on a rabbit with a weak, narrow or long shoulder you would feel a distinct break or difference between the shoulder and the midsection. Ideally it would be smooth both from the top and from the side, with no discernible break between the two areas.
Here are examples of properly posed animals with excellent shoulders: