Getting Started as a Pen Steward

As a Pen Steward, it will be your responsibility to make sure that the judges have the pens that they need to judge each class and then put them back on the bench again in the right order. It can seem daunting at first but you’ll soon get the hang of things if you work in a methodical way.

At the start of the show

At the start of the show arrange the show pens into their correct classes. If a show pen has two hamsters in different classes such as a Normal Campbells (D1) and Albino Campbells (D3) then place the pen with the lower class number first. In the case of our example that would be with class D1 and then once class D1 is judged you will need to put the pen with class D3 so that the second hamster can be judged.

The exception to this is if the second hamster is in Non-Standard (D21). In that case you should put the pen in points order after judging, with the others, until after the duplicates are done.

It’s best to have a look at the judging sheets from the show secretary to make sure that the hamsters that are supposed to be on the bench are there and that you are aware of any withdrawals.

During judging

During judging you will have to keep an eye on the pens on the bench as well as being ready to write down the score on the pen label. When you’re watching the bench you need to keep your eye out for people sticking their fingers in the show pens which can be harmful to both the hamster as well as people tampering with the pens. You will also need to make sure that those within the judging ring are authorised to be there. Members of the public are not allowed within the judging ring.

Once four hamsters have been judged, you can move the pens with the lowest placing hamsters back on to the bench in points order. When arranging pens with more than one hamster in the pen, it is the hamster with the higher points that will influence the pen’s position on the table.

At the end of the class, all the pens are moved off of the judging table and the new class is brought to the judge. To ensure a smooth running, you can put the pens that you’ve just removed separately on the bench facing the wrong way so that you know that you have to put them in the correct order once you’ve set up the next class.

Some judges may prefer to keep the highest scoring hamster on the judging table until all classes are being judged, don’t forget to leave space for this pen on the bench. You don’t want to forget the BIS.

Judging duplicates

You may be required to help the judge with identifying hamsters in duplicate classes, this is where several pairs of eyes are helpful because there may be two hamsters to a pen in the same duplicate but the hamster with the lower points may not necessarily receive the next placing down.

After the duplicates are judged you will need to assemble any Non Standard hamsters on the bench, making sure you’ve checked the pens that have already had one occupant ‘pointed’. Once this class is judged, I tend to return the pens that had a standardised animal back into points order on the main part of the bench. Non-Standard pens can be arranged on their own in points order.

Other things you might need to know

Sometimes the pen labels don’t stick to the show pens very well so you’ll need to keep an eye on this to make sure that none of the labels get lost.

It can go down well with judges and book stewards if you’re happy to go and get them a cup of tea or coffee from the show kitchen once you’ve set a class up on the bench.

At some shows, it is the pen steward that can end up being the first person a visitor to our shows will see and whilst we must give them a warm welcome, it is important not to allow them to distract you too much from your assigned duties. If you’re busy you may need to ask them to wait a few minutes whilst you finish what you are doing or you could ask another club member who is free to talk them through what’s happening or show them where to go.

Article by Jenna Gray of Metallica Hamstery