HISTORYRabbit hopping started in Sweden about 1980. Some Danish rabbit breeders had been over there and wanted to try it in their breeding club. In 1993 we started here in Denmark on a small scale. In the start it was a little messy with classes, promotion and rules, but gradually we organized it, and now we have written rules for rabbit hopping. We have straight course, crooked course, high - and long jump. Furthermore we have some more playing activities. In the start a lot of breeders were very sceptical of rabbit hopping and thought it was a short craze. Still more breeders find out, that it has come here to stay, and more clubs have a hopping branch now, where as well children as grown ups go in for this sport.
EVENTSAt events, there is always great attendance from the spectators. People of all ages have a good time by looking at rabbit hopping. Even radio, TV, newspapers and magazines find, that rabbit hopping is a good subject and now and then they bring photos or on-the-spot report.
Of course now and then people, who think it is cruelty to animals, are passing by, but they have hardly ever understood, that the rabbits are hopping of joy.
The critics do not think about, that all what we do, are be built on the natural movements of the rabbits.
HOW TO TEACH THE RABBIT TO HOPIt is best to start with a young. It is good to buy a young at 8 weeks at a breeder, who is a member of a breeding organization.
The very first thing you have to teach your rabbit is to walk in a harness and leash. It might be a little cat´s harness or a special harness for rabbits with an eye behind in the back piece. It must not just be a necklace, because then the rabbit might be choked. It might take time to get it used to the harness, but don´t be in too great a hurry. It is very important, that nothing happens, that might frighten the rabbit, when it is in harness. Let it have a good experience, when it is in the harness. Then it will gradually look forward to come out into the harness for a walk. If you have more rabbits, it is best to have one harness for each rabbit. Some rabbits will bite in the harness, if it smells of an other rabbit. When the rabbit has got used to the harness, you can start teaching it, that you are the one, who decides, where you are going. When your rabbit is good at walking in the harness, you can start letting it hop over small jumps. As long time as the young is little, you must not let it jump too much and not too high. Just about 5 minutes at 0 - 5 cm. (0-2 inch.) (0 cm is when the bar is just lying at the grass).
It will be good with some milk cartons or some small wood blocks with 100 cm. (40 inch.) between the cartons or blocks. After some weeks you can put one more carton upon the first. When you add the high, you have to add the length. If you already have a rabbit jump, you start with one bar or two bars. If the rabbit don´t want to jump, you can try to lift it once or twice, maybe it will jump by itself the next time. Teach your rabbit from the beginning just to hop the one way. Then it is easier to teach it just to go forward on a course. That´s what it´s about in an event. If your rabbit gets tired, you must let it get a rest and then try later the same day or the next day.
To calm or encourage your rabbit it is important, that you talk with your rabbit the whole time both at training and at events. Don´t tell it off, if it doesn´t go like you want. You don´t achieve anything by that. At straight course, there has to be the same distance between the jumps. In this way the rabbit gets a fluent run through and has a better chance to make the jumps.
When the rabbit is 4 month, it can start training at an easy course (25 cm (9.8 inch.) high) and it can start in an event. Here in Denmark the handler has to be a member of the Breeding Organization of Denmark. Maybe you can try to train in an organisation before being a member.
All breed and mixed rabbits can learn to hop, but do not hop with very big and heavy rabbits. Don´t overtrain your rabbit. By training once or twice a week it will quickly get used to hop and become a clever hopping rabbit. If you have got a rabbit, who in spite of your best attempts, will not hop, you must let it be a pet rabbit. If you force it, it might be aggressive and maybe you will get sour.
It is hard to say, if it is best to hop with a male or a female. We have had best luck with the females. Our males are often more interested in sniffing and peeing and mating our legs. The females might be a little lazy, when they are in heat, but else they are very willing to hop. If it is very hot and very cold it is better not to hop.
Rabbit hopping is fun for children and grown ups, and it is a different good and exciting way to have rabbits and to be a rabbit.
If you have a little fenced area in your garden, your rabbit can have fun of running there too. It also will give it more exercise.
In straight course the rabbits are divided into 4 classes: Easy class, where the course has 8 - 12 jumps at max. 25 cm (9.8 inch.) high at a distance of 180 cm (70.9 inch.) between the jumps. Medium class with 10 - 14 jumps at max. 35 cm (13.8 inch.) at a distance of 200 cm (78.7 inch.) between the jumps, Difficult class also with 10 - 14 jumps and a distance of 200 cm (78.7 inch.), but with a max. at 40 cm (15.7 inch.) high. At last the Elite class with 12 - 16 jumps at max. 50 cm (19.7 inch.) at a distance of 220 cm (86.6 inch.) between the jumps.
At crooked course there are also 4 classes and the highs are the same as at straight. The jumps are placed in an other way; more like show jumping for horses. You follow the numbers at the jumps.
High jump takes place by letting the rabbit hop over a jump, which can be put up to about 100 cm (39.4 inch.), and you gradually put one more rails on, till the last rabbit goes out. Each rabbit has 3 trials at each high. The world record today is 99½ cm (39.2 inch.) made of the rabbit "Tøsen" with the handler Tine Hygom from Horsens, Denmark. It was made at the cattle show in Herning June 1997. The rabbit id dead now.
Long jump takes place at a jump, where you start at 60 cm - 80 cm (23.6-31.5 inch.), an the length is put out till the last rabbit goes out. Each rabbit has 3 trials at each length. The world record is made of the rabbit "Yabo" and Maria B. Jensen from Kolding. It was made in June 1999 at the cattle show in Horsens, Denmark. (I had the luck to be the judge. It was very exciting.)
CLUBSHere in Denmark we have many clubs, where you can make rabbit hopping. In Sweden they have much more clubs. In Germany one club in Eutin has started. In the USA, they have started to.
YOU CAN VERY EASYLY MAKE YOUR OWN RABBIT JUMPEYou need: 2 plates about 20 cm (7.9 inch.) X 20 cm (7.9 inch.) X (0.6 inch.), two posts about 4 cm (1.6 inch.) X 4 cm (1.6 inch.) X 56 cm (22 inch.), 20 staples made of 2 mm (0.08 inch.) wire, 10 pieces of electrician pipes 60 cm (23.6 inch.) long and 2 cm (0.8 inch.) in diameter. We buy trash wood from a furniture fabric. It is cheap. Maybe you can find something like that too. (See our photo under "jumps")