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a sport in which rabbits jump over a set of obstacles and are judged on their speed and ability
'In Europe, competitive rabbit-hopping demonstrations have attracted a respectable following …'The Denver Post 3rd March 2008
'Rabbit hoppers stress that just about any rabbit will do when it comes to selecting a bunny for competitive jumping. The sport, they say, is more about the fun of the experience for the rabbits and the owners than winning a trophy.'National Geographic News 29th March 2002
Easter time – it annually conjures up images of newly-hatched chicks, spring daffodils, and rabbits hopping across the fields … But for some people, a bunny isn't just a proverbial source of Easter goodies or a sedentary pet munching carrots in a hutch. No, a rabbit is a sporting companion, trained to excel in its innate capacity to jump – yes, believe it or not, there's a competitive sport known as rabbit hopping.
a rabbit hopping course bears a strong resemblance to a show jumping arena, except the competitors are rabbits rather than horses …
Rabbit hopping, also called rabbit jumping and rabbit show jumping, is a novelty sport in which domestic rabbits are trained to leap over obstacles. A rabbit hopping course bears a strong resemblance to a show jumping arena, except the competitors are rabbits rather than horses, guided by their owners (known as rabbit hoppers) as they leap over appropriately 'rabbit-sized' fences.
Popularized in Europe but also now hopping up (sorry, couldn't resist) in the United States, rabbit hopping competitions can attract as many as 200 entrants. As well as completing a straight or curved course, entrants also compete for the highest and longest jumps. The current 'world record holders' are Danish rabbits Yabo and Tøsen, respectively clocking a massive 3 metres for the long jump and 99.5 cm for the high jump.
Though rabbits are natural-born hoppers, proponents of the sport claim that it requires a great deal of training and practice. Bunnies in training need to get used to wearing a special harness and to walking on a variety of surfaces.
Any kind of rabbit can take part in the sport, though some breeds makes better hoppers than others. Long-haired rabbits for example are less likely to perform well because they quickly 'overheat'.
Before you take your own dear bunny to the nearest rabbit hopping event, remember that overweight bunnies may have limited hopping ability. If your pet rabbit likes to leap on and off the furniture, you have a good agility candidate. If he prefers to sit on your lap and watch the TV … well, maybe hopping is not his forte!
If you'd like to see some rabbit hopping in action, check out the video material at this link.
The novelty sport of rabbit hopping began in Sweden in the late seventies, subsequently spreading into other parts of Europe and especially across Scandinavia, where there are now more than fifty rabbit hopping clubs. It became popularized in the United Kingdom after it was featured on the BBC TV show That's Life!, a magazine-style series running between 1973 and 1994. As well as dealing with serious consumer issues, That's Life! regularly showcased 'novelty' items which often included performing pets.
This article was first published on 17th March 2008.