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Rabbit Show Jumping
I had two rabbits growing up, Susie and Ace, and they were great pets. Although Susie could have a bit of an attitude, but I don't blame her, at that age I probably cuddled her too much. If I had known about rabbit show jumping then I would have loved to try it out with them. I just saw it on the CBS show "The Amazing Race" and thought it was so cute and a great way to spend some bonding time with your rabbit. And the fact that most domesticated rabbits spend 90% of their life locked up in a cage, this sport would help to improve their quality of life greatly.
Rabbit show jumping is where a rabbit is trained by treats, use of a clicker or affection to jump over a set of hurdles. Rabbits are intelligent and can be taught many tasks. The sport began in the 1970s in Sweden, and today Scandinavia has more than 50 rabbit show jumping clubs. It is also popular in Germany, the U.K., where the first competition was in 2008, and it is slowly catching on in America, Canada and Japan. It is also known as rabbit dressage, or rabbit hopping and in Scandinavia it is known as kaninhop
The rabbit needs to have a natural proclivity to jumping the hurdles, otherwise you should just let them have open range exercise and maybe try another rabbit. This should not be something forced upon the animal. Just be gentle and patient and they may take to it. The first step would be to see how they do walking with a leash because the rabbit also needs to be able to wear a harness, and some rabbits take to them and some do not. The harness has to be worn for competitions.
The jumps are another important component. There are companies that sell the jumps and you can also create your own. The bars need to be able to fall down in either direction and be brightly painted so they are easy to see. And of course they need to be safe for the bunny with no sharp edges, etc. All these things are necessary so your bunny does not lose any confidence or becomes fearful of the jumps. They can be made out of PVC or wooden dowels.
There are different competitions depending upon the size of the rabbit, and the course can consist of low and high jumps and a curved or straight course. A small rabbit is considered under 4.4 pounds and a large rabbit over 11 pounds. The rules originally were based upon horse competition rules, but have now been adapted for rabbits. Some types of rabbits are sometimes excluded such as the English Lop-eared variety because of possible damage to their ears and the Angora because of their long fur. There are prizes and awards given to the best competitors. The two record holders are from Denmark - a long jump record with a leap of 10 ft, and a high jump of 3.3 ft back in 1997. The ideal jumper has a long back and legs. And apparently the best jumpers are mixed breeds.
Regardless of the rules, it looks like great fun as long as the rabbit and the owner are both hoppy...I mean happy!
There is also rabbit agility, which is different from rabbit jumping because it uses different equipment. Rabbits learn to run the course just like a dog, cat or rat might. They take on barrels, bridges, tunnels, weave poles, ramps, windows and more, like a dog agility course.
A link to 14 Wacky Animal Sports
Adopt from a shelter, there are plenty of bunnies looking for homes!