What is rabbit hopping (rabbit showjumping)?
Rabbit Hopping has been growing in popularity more and more through out the years. It was first introduced in Europe and at one point was the 3rd most popular sport in Sweden! Rabbit show jumping is much like show jumping for horses, except it has been converted for bunnies! The goal in rabbit hopping is to get through the course as fast as possible without hitting any rails (poles). There are many different types of classes you can enter which include, straight, crooked, high jump, long jump, and sometimes some other fun classes made up by the show. Some people get rabbit hopping mixed up with rabbit agility. There is a large difference between these however, rabbit agility is when the rabbit goes through a course made up of things like small jumps, tunnels, teeter totters, and other obstacles. Rabbit hopping is made up of 4 levels, easy (beginner), moderate, difficult, and elite which is the top level. All the different levels of rabbit hopping will be explained in a different section of this article.
Why do rabbit hopping?
Rabbit hopping is a very fun activity for both you and your rabbit weather your a rabbit breeder or a pet owner! It is great for keeping them fit and in good condition, plus it gives them a fun activity to do! Most rabbits LOVE jumping and just live for it! For people who show their rabbits it can be great for helping to keep them from going over the required weight for the breed. It can also be useful to get some of their energy out at the shows before being judged ;).
Which rabbits make the best hoppers?
When choosing a rabbit that will make a good hopper personality plays a huge role in this. You want a rabbit that has a lot of energy to burn! You also want them to be friendly and not aggressive or mean in anyway, you basically want a happy and energetic rabbit. Some breeds make better jumpers then others. Breeds that you will want to totally avoid are lop eared breeds except for Holland Lops who have short ears. Other lop eared rabbits have very long ears and they could end up stepping on them. You want to avoid rabbits who have wool or very long coats as this could risk them getting very overheated unless your willing to shear them. Generally the best hoppers are the full arch breeds of rabbits including Belgian Hare, Britannia Petite, Checkered Giant, English Spot, Rhinelander, and Tan. These tend to be energetic yet friendly in nature and they are very athletic. Other breeds that make good hoppers are some dwarf breeds including Holland Lops and Netherland Dwarfs. Though Holland Lops and Netherlands don’t have a very athletic build they have a huge amount of power in their hind legs! They tend to just bounce up in the air with an incredible spring where as the arch breeds tend to arch more over the jumps. Both Netherlands and Hollands can be a bit more energetic which makes them great jumpers. After doing research and talking to other people who enjoy rabbit hopping Holland Lops, English Spots, and Tans seems to be the most popular breed choices for jumping. Though these are the most popular breeds almost any breed of rabbit can make a good jumper. Personality is the most important thing when choosing yours. Generally does also make better jumpers then bucks. Bucks tend to get distracted a lot unless they are neutered, while Does have a much easier time staying focused on jumping.
Straight: This is when there is a large line of jumps in a row. There is a small starting jump where the timer starts, then the rabbits go through the course ending over a small finishing jump where the time stops.
Crooked: This is when you start and end with a small jump like the straight course. Though instead of the jumps being in a straight line they are arranged in a course that you have to memorize, you must do all the jumps in the correct order or you are eliminated.
High Jump: This is when there is only 1 jump on the course. It starts low and it keeps getting higher every round. The last rabbit to clear the jump without hitting any rails is the winner!
Long Jump: This is the same as high jump except for the jump gets longer with every round instead of higher! It takes a very talented rabbit to do this.
Different Levels of Competition and how everything works
Here is a list of the different levels of competition and the regulations for each. This only applies to the Straight and Crooked classes, long jump, high jump, and other fun classes work differently.
Easy- This is the lowest class, this is the class where all rabbits start their jumping
career. Young rabbits and ones just starting out should be entered in this. The maximum height is 30 cm (11,81 inches) and the course has a least 8 jumps. If the rabbit clears the course with no jumping faults or time faults it qualifys for the next class moderate.
Moderate- This is the next level up, the maximum height is 38 cm (14, 96 inches) of the jumps and there is at
least 10 of them in the course. If they get clear with no time faults or jumping faults they advance to the next round called difficult.
Difficult- Has a maximum height of 45 cm (17, 72 inches) there are still at least 10 jumps in the course. You must get clear with no faults to advance to the next round which is elite. This is the biggest class and only for very experienced rabbits.
Elite- This is the biggest level and your hopper must be very talented and experienced to get to this point. To have a rabbit who can compete in elite is a big accomplishment! There must be a water jump in the elite rounds. The water jump is a fail if the rabbit or the leash touches the water surface. The minimum height on the jumps is 60 cm (23.62 inches) and up.
In all the classes there is a start and finish jump. It is only a couple inches off the ground and does not count as part of the course though the rabbit MUST jump over each to start and finish the time. There is a max time given for each round which is normally 2 minutes to get through the course. If you do not finish in that time period your eliminated or in some cases you get time faults.
In the UK rabbit hopping works slightly differently, and I am pretty sure some areas in the US do it like this also. . All rabbits that get places in a class get an upgrading point. When the rabbit has three upgrading points in the same course he/she can be qualified for the higher class or level. The number of places in a competition is based on the number of starting rabbits; there is one upgrading point for each started five number. For example if there is 26 starting rabbits the top six will get upgrading points. However the rabbit must finish the course with less than two faults per round. The most common is that you have two rounds so no more than 4 faults is the limit for getting a upgrading point. If the rabbit makes two rounds without any faults it will receive a upgrading point no matter the placing number. So basically its the same as above except for you need to take the points you earn into account and not just the faults you get. Different shows will do it differently, and it can vary with different countries.
NOTE: Pregnant or lactating Does are NOT allowed to compete, a collar is also not allowed you much have a standard harness and leash. Treats are not allowed on course, you are not allowed to encourage the rabbit with your foot, you can only use your hands. Your not allowed to lift the rabbit using the leash. The owner is not allowed to step over any jumps themselves. You must always walk beside the jumps and you must always be BEHIND your rabbit. Rabbits must be at least 4 months to compete and owner at least 7 years old to be on the course.