Brook Creager: A Rabbit Race to the Top
Just three years ago, Brook Creager and his family became actively involved in the rabbit business. Now, the family has not only raised rabbits, they have raised a star.
Brook's father raised rabbits as a hobby when he was younger. A few years ago, he became interested in the animals again and shared his experiences with Brook. One day, the family decided to purchase a few Rex rabbits. In their search, they fell into the rabbit hole and haven't come out since.
"When we first got involved with rabbits, we didn't realize the rabbit industry was so big, with shows and so forth every weekend," said Carie Creager, Brook's mother. "After learning about the business, we started our son on rabbits and entered him into national competitions. After just three years, my son took Best Opposite Sex in Youth Rex Nationals."
Not only did Brook and his rabbit, Hilt's Spartan, place second at Youth Rex Nationals in 2011, but he also took Grand Champion at their local fair. After his outstanding success in those competitions, the family packed up for a trip to Indianapolis to enter Brook and Hilt's Spartan into the 2011 American Rabbit Breeders Association competition. "This last year, the Youth ARBA Convention was held in Indianapolis, just three hours away, so we all went," Carie said. "We took Brook and Hilt's Spartan and they ended up winning Rex Youth Best of Breed!"
All of Brook and Hilt's Spartan's successes were not just pure luck. The duo embarked on a great journey of learning in preparation for showing.
"The first step in learning about rabbits was figuring out what feed to use," Carie said. "There are always issues with the coat, molting, weather changes and body condition in rabbits. We had a really hard time finding a feed close to home that worked well. We were traveling to Michigan to get Purina® feed for the longest time. Finally, another breeder and I convinced our local Tractor Supply store to get Purina® feed in stock. After that, not only did we feed it to our rabbits, we fed it to our horse, cats and dogs as well. Now we feed them all strictly Purina® feed. It's a product that we noticed made a huge difference in our animals all-around, and now it's accessible to us, too."
Carie goes on to explain that with Purina® feed, the proof is in the pudding.
"Everybody has their own opinion about feed, but we have noticed that with Purina® feed our rabbits stay in condition longer. The proof is in Hilt's Spartan. Everyone was just amazed that the same rabbit won events throughout the whole year."
Hilt's Spartan's success is just the tip of the iceberg. Brook has won more than 21 awards since he started working with rabbits. However, Brook is not boastful. Rather, he is a soft-spoken 16-year-old boy that takes his praise in stride.
"He is a very quiet young man, but he gets the biggest smile on his face when he is talked about," Carie said. "He doesn't brag about it, but his winnings last year were a big enough deal that our local paper did an article on him. Our Tractor Supply Purina dealer came to do a photo shoot with him and his story made it into Tractor Supply's magazine, 'The Voice,' because of all his accomplishments."
Brook's success with his animals can be attributed to his dedication and support system. If things ever get off track, his family, friends and Purina are right behind him.
"If something goes wrong, Purina makes it right," Carie said. "We had an experience at Nationals where there was some confusion over the benefits of Purina as far as acknowledgements were concerned because of where we bought our feed. When our salesperson found out, she made it absolutely, 100 percent, over and beyond right."
Although Carie's family is very focused on raising show-quality animals, their rabbits are first and foremost family pets.
"I personally think all rabbits should be treated like they are your pets," Carie said. "You can't skimp on anything for them. It can be hard in these days to supply what is needed all the time, but I think if you are going to make the commitment you should do it the right way. It is well worth it. Our rabbits are not just show animals, they are our pets."