They do. They are humans too. They mess up, they get confused, they don't interpret the Standard the way we would sometimes. Some judges study certain breeds more than others. Some judges don't raise the particular breed they are judging, and in some cases (but certainly not all), that makes it harder for them to interpret the Standard the way most breeders within that certain breed would.
The Standard of Perfection is difficult; some people interprets the articles within its pages differently. The SOP itself does not have pictures of each quality as it describes it, and occasionally uses vague language. I'm in no way bashing the SOP or critiquing the author, by no means! It's an amazing resource and without it we wouldn't have a purpose for showing our rabbits or breeding show rabbits.
Interestingly, the Standard goes by a point system. I think rabbit shows are similar to human beauty pageants, as the rabbits are judged on how they look, not what their personality is like or what breed they are. Each part of the rabbit body has a certain amount of points, and each breed is different. A perfect Holland Lop will have a body worth 32 points, head worth 24 points, ears worth 10 points, bone/feet/legs worth 10 points, crown worth 8 points and condition/fur/markings/color worth a combined 16 points. Theoretically, all of this comes together to make a 100 point rabbit.
But judges know that they will never see the perfect 100-point rabbit on the table. So, they have to go off of what they can envision should or shouldn't be there on that individual rabbit...what would or wouldn't make this rabbit perfect? What is it lacking? What does it have too much of?
A judge can't see your entire herd. They are judging each individual rabbit and the rabbits on the table. They don't know what you need in your herd. Maybe that mid-place rabbit has that body you need, but his slipped crown and long face cost him first place. But you have an amazing doe that can fix that. Some breeders/showmen let the judge rule their herd, and sell whatever doesn't win first place every time.
In the world of raising show rabbits, the breeder needs to become his own judge. He needs to understand what his herd needs. If I were to let a judge rule my herd, I wouldn't have kept Butterfly after she got last place in a class because she was out of condition and molting. Although she was still amazing, the other animals in the class had great condition and a little more 'umph' that Butterfly lacked.
But Butterfly, right now at least, is easily the best or second best rabbit in my herd. But still, she's definitely not worth 100 points on the show table. Maybe she would be worth 70 points. I think it would be fun sometime to dedicate a blog post to a few of my rabbits, and see where they would lose or gain points, and how many points I would give them if I were the judge. Even though the Standard is based in points, most judges don't add or subtract the points in their head, they just look at what they see and remember which parts of the rabbit are most important.
Until next time!