Obviously the first thing you do is STUDY and then take your exam [This concept is much harder said than done]. You then PASS your exam. While you are waiting to hear back about your results, you should come up with a list of judges you would like to work with.
I honestly think that selecting judges to work with, was THE hardest part. I ended up with a list of about 25 judges I had relatively easy access to, were the best of the best (where I would learn A LOT), and people that I knew I would feel comfortable working with. Working judges should not be picked because you know that they will pass you, or that they are easy to work under. There should be a level of difficulty involved.
Once you have your list established, the next thing is to Plan your shows. This will vary upon your location, and the time of year you take your test. For me, I had to take my test in late June, and by the time I had figured out my test results, paid my dues, and had my envelopes to work with, it was already late July. There are no shows in August for me, so I had to wait until the first weekend in September to start working.
When you go to work a show, you HAVE to e-mail/call the Show Superintendent FIRST. They tell you IF you can work, and their rules. Some can require you to work with a certain judge. Some will require you to work on a certain day (sat/sunday). Some shows only allow one applicant to work a show (either reg or judge). And some, can say no. The club has the final call! THEN, you contact the judge, gain their permission, and report back to the Superintendent.
Before the show, review your standard. Wash your apron. Pick out a clean, long sleeve shirt to wear. Bring your lop stick & hand sanitizer. Put your hair up & get ready to learn!
1 & 2) Crescent City,CA. On Saturday I worked with Allen Mesick of California. It was a triple open, and I worked with 21 breeds! Here I worked with all of the Angora breeds, and learned about how to comment on the Thrianta red color differences. Sunday, I worked with Randy Shumaker of California. It was a double open, and I worked with 16 breeds. I think the most important thing I learned here was about the Dutch, in that if you have to spend time determining if it's a marking DQ, then to give it the benefit of the doubt.
3) Albany, OR. I worked with Jeff Jewett of Washington. It was a double open, and I worked with 9 breeds (larger breeds). I learned a lot about Britannia Petites from exhibitors, on how to pose & handle them correctly.
4 & 5) Red Bluff, CA. On Saturday I worked with Melissa Magee of California. I worked with 7 breeds (larger show). One breed we did do, were Holland Lops. All 150+ of them. There were 25 SSB's. I also learned a lot from judge Chris Zemny, even though I couldn't work with her, she assisted in my learning while working. On Sunday, I worked with Carol Green of California. I think the biggest thing I took home from this show, is make the show work for you. Carol is a very short lady, and YOU as the judge, have to accommodate yourself. If the table is too high (or too low!), don't wreck your back! Get ahold of the superintendent and have them fix it ASAP. A good show should have the ability of adjustable tables. If the coops are still too far away, bring them closer to you! Also at this show, I had an experience where an exhibitor made an attempt to influence the judge. And when questioned by the superintendent, I had to be honest; even though the exhibitor meant no harm. Also to end this show, I was bit by a HUGE Black New Zealand doe in her 5th show of the weekend. I always thought the little rabbit bites were the worst, but this one gave me a two week bruise!
In between shows 5 & 6, I realized that I would have to actually work with a judge that I didn't know. Preparing yourself for this is mentally exhausting. In the end, it all works out great. So DON'T stress ... about working with the ARBA President!
6) Couer D'Alene, Idaho. I worked with ARBA President, Mike Avesing from Iowa. I got to work with 10 rare breeds (I had made this request), plus Meat Pens and Fryers. I got to judge American Sables, Belgian Hares (which I learned how to pose!) and a really nice quality Silver! This was also my first show, ever, where an Unworthy of an Award was given. I felt, that this was very necessary. I will not name the breed, but it was very ragged, hutch stained -- it simply looked hideous... and the owner admitted to only entering him as a class filler to win a leg. This was also a "confidence booster" show for me, as Mike told me about how I passed, and how well I did. A lot of Holland breeders, and the show committee itself told me how well I had done, and my good handling skills. As an aspiring judge, these are comments that you want to hear!
By the time you've worked your 6th show, you get a lot of repeat breeds. And a lot of breeds you haven't worked with. By the end of my 6th show, I had just 13 breeds I hadn't worked with. E-mail your superintendents to see if you can get breeds you haven't worked with, and they will help you out!
7) St Helens, OR - I worked with ARBA Vice President Erik Bengston from Minnestoa. I was pretty nervous to work with him, as I had heard some stories ... and the first breed out was definately nerve wracking! But you suck it in, you work through it. And in the end it turns out fine. Here I learned about posing the animals both ways, (not just to the left!) and that I had good delivery in a loud show room.
and the final one -- the hardest!
Well I had a hard time, because it was my biggest gap -- January to April. There are no shows in February and in March, I had to fight for a position and gave up because the show committee was not welcoming. So number 8!
8) Central Point, OR. I worked with Ted Deloyola. I worked with 11 larger breeds, and completed nearly every breed to work with (I missed out on Checkers and the Chin breeds). It was a very nice show to end on, and I did learn a lot... Like how to measure a million English lop ears! :)
Basic concept to keep in mind. You can study all you want, have all the experience in the world. The idea to working 8 shows is to mold you into yourself, the judge. You learn A LOT. What TO DO, what NOT TO DO. You learn things you never knew before, and then it's also a chance to prove what you do know. I passed all 8 of my judges, all GREAT judges, in which I learned a lot. I had a lot of FUN doing it -- and If I could do it again, I wouldn't do it any differently. Pick your judges wisely... and make sure you learn in the process! :)
If you ever have any questions on how to study, or how the process works -- just feel free to e-mail me!