Rabbit Hopping Competition - A Unique Way to Have Fun With Your Rabbit!
Do You Currently Have a Pet Rabbit?
The Most Fun You'll Ever Have!
A rabbit hopping competition is similar to horse show jumping where rabbits are trained to jump a course of small hurdles. The number and actual format of the jumps depends on the competition. There are ‘Straight’ courses where several jumps are set up in a straight line, and ‘Crooked’ courses that are set up in random order, much more like an equine course. Some jumps have very light rails that are easy to knock down, while others are sturdier. All jumps should be designed to fall apart if the rabbit does happen to crash into them. Solid jumps could cause serious injury to the rabbit. Rabbit safety should always be considered when preparing any jump course.
Any rabbit can be trained to rabbit hop, but the very small and very large breeds may have a hard time with it. A rabbit with long legs and a long back is ideal for the sport. In Scandinavia, rabbits are specifically bred for hopping. I am currently competing with a Chinchilla cross buck. I’m also training some Lionheads to compete in the sport. The members of my 4-H Club are currently competing with Holland Lop, Mini Rex and Netherland Dwarf rabbits, in addition to many various crossbreeds.
Rabbits should not begin jumping until they are at least four months of age, but harness training can begin as soon as the rabbit is weaned. Before jumps are introduced, a rabbit needs to be comfortable wearing an 'H' style harness. Once the rabbit is used to the harness, small jumps can be introduced. Rabbits normally move in a zig zag pattern, but for jumping they need to learn to move in a straight line.
Rabbits are usually quick to catch on to hopping, as it’s a natural movement for them; however, training still requires a lot of patience and gentleness. Never yell or hit a rabbit while training it. This will only scare it and make it be more timid. If a rabbit is clueless about what is wanted, it can be helpful to allow it to watch another rabbit complete the course. Rabbits learn a lot from watching each other. Some rabbits will be motivated by treats
Often Rabbit Hopping competitions are held in conjunction with regular breed shows. If you choose to attend a Hopping competition, be sure to transport your rabbit in a safe, solid bottom carrier. Take lots of water for you and your rabbit and bring some hay for your rabbit to munch on. If it’s going to be a long show, bring your rabbit’s regular food as well. Wear comfortable shoes that you can run in safely (sneakers are usually a good choice). If you’re rabbit chooses to run the course really fast, like you want it to, you’ll have to keep up with it. Never step on the actual course. You will probably be disqualified for doing this. Stay to the edge of the jumps and if you rabbit needs encouragement to jump, use your hand, not your feet. Remember to always be courteous to the judge and the other competitors. Use this experience to meet new friends and remember it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
Interested in Rabbit Showmanship?
- Competing in 4-H Rabbit Showmanship
Preparing to show your rabbit in a 4-H Showmanship class is a fun way to learn more about rabbits and their care.