Guide to Rabbit Agility Contests & Bunny Hopping

 

Rabbit agility contests? Really? Yes, this sport offers rabbits a chance to show off their jumping skills while having fun! You might have heard of rabbit hopping or bunny agility, and they are not just actual events; they are coming to be popular! Sweden presented bunny hopping in the early 1970s. The activity imitated horse jumping. Then, the initial national rabbit hopping championship was held in 1987 in Sweden. Throughout Europe, this sport continues to gain fanciers who attend these events.

Currently, there are rabbit hopping clubs in many countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and England. Bunny hopping involved the United States in 2001. Then in 2012, the American Hopping Association for Rabbits and Cavies, by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, began in earnest. Bunny jumping is likewise becoming preferred in Japan as well as Australia. Rabbit agility, developed in Canada, consists of several aspects of bunny jumping and various other barriers that are patterned after dog agility.

What is Rabbit Hopping?

 

Rabbit hopping is an efficient sport where rabbits run through a series of jumps varying from 4– 20 inches high. The obstacles resemble the jumps utilized for equine jumps, however, on a much smaller size. The jumps are made with displaceable rails so that if a rabbit does not make it over the hurdle, the rails will certainly fall away. The goal is to undergo the training course with the least number of mistakes. There is likewise a long jump and a high dive, which can be very challenging for a rabbit.

What is Bunny Agility?

 

Rabbit agility incorporates the jumps used in jumping with hurdles, in addition to a range of call and non-contact hurdles. The challenges model those used in canine agility contests. A lot of the obstacles have contact zones, as well as the rabbit has to be taught just how each barrier functions. Some instances of things a bunny might run into in the program are passages, tire dives, A-frames, bridges, and see-saws or teeter-totters.

How Do You Select the Right Hopping or Agility Bunny?

 

With the acknowledgment of 50 unique bunny breeds by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), fanciers of many breeds began to train their rabbits.  Bear in mind your bunny’s physique, weight, and also character. The best selection for a jumping or dexterity bunny is one that is friendly, ready to please, and energized. A moody or sensitive rabbit might be harder to educate. 

Before competing in rabbit agility contests, take time to condition and train your rabbit. This ensures you both have fun and safe during competitions. 

Of course, you might decide to just keep practicing within your backyard or with a few friends. Some people choose not to compete in the actual rabbit agility contests. Instead, they just keep training and practicing. It’s all about the fun!

rabbit agility

 

We’ve listed a few of the more prominent breeds competing in this sport. These are not the only breeds that can complete, but mixed breeds do quite well.

 

Holland Lop

Mini Lop

Dutch

Britannia Petite

Polish

Dwarf Hotot

Havana

English Spot

Checkered Giant

 

 

Should they compete?

These breeds may be more popular in the jumping contests, but other breeds often compete and do well, too.  Just keep in mind that the most important factor is the safety and health of your rabbit.

If the weather is hot, your heavily coated Giant Angora should not be encouraged to participate outdoors. Likewise, a rabbit that is overweight or dealing with medical issues should be kept off the agility and hopping courses for his own health and safety. Also, rabbits with long lop ears, such as the English Lop, might find jumping obstacles to be more than challenging.

 

 

Training For Fun and For Rabbit Agility Contests

 

A bunny that is 4 to 6 months old is simplest to teach, but some rabbits of any type or age do well. Just develop a training routine.

First, make sure your rabbit is healthy and fit. Never begin training an obese rabbit because this might create physical injury. Also, consider his overall health. His coat should be shiny and his eyes bright. 

Remember that rabbits are easily surprised and consequently quickly sidetracked. Begin by subjecting your bunny to various noises, surface areas, and environments. This training helps your bunny focus on the barriers, not the disturbances. Your bunny needs to learn to relax and focus on the jumping. Most find this fun and exciting!

Ground Job, Get the Basics First

 

First, your rabbit needs to learn to accept the harness and leash. When he is ready, take him for short walks. Leave the leash loose and extended. When the rabbit drops in front of you, reach down to lightly touch the rabbit near the tail or in the rib area. He should then move forward. To avoid touching your rabbit with your feet, wear white or light-colored shoes. This allows him to see your feet and avoid being injured.

Rabbits tend to run in a zig-zag pattern when trying to escape predators. This is where the training comes in. When the rabbit begins to run to the left, you must step on your left foot where the rabbit will see your feet. Or, gently guide him by bending over and placing your hand next to him. This helps re-train their natural instincts so that the bunny follows your lead. Training and exercise time should be limited to 15 or 20 minutes daily at first. Slowly work up to a routine that matches your needs. We recommend limiting training to at most about 2- 20 min sessions a day. Follow these with a small treat.

Learning to Hop

 

Of course, all rabbits know how to hop. It’s what they do! But before his first rabbit agility contest, your bunny needs to learn timing and training over set obstacles.

Set up a series of rails, either wooden or PVC. Painted boards work well here. They need to be laying flat and about 6-inches apart in a straight line. Encourage and lead him to hop over each. With practice, he will learn to move quite smoothly over the jump poles.

As he jumps over each pole, say “over” or “jump”. This helps him learn the word with the action.

 

Training Your Rabbit to Go Over Jumps

 

Next, set up jumps off the ground. Your first jumps will be very near the surface, probably only 2-inches off the ground. Repeat your initial training until he is moving easily over them. Again, use your cue word for him to jump each time. Avoid the inclination to raise the bars too quickly. Like any athlete, he needs time to develop both his mental awareness and his physical fitness for the task.

Keep your training sessions short and fun. Remember to reward him with a treat after each session.

Equipment Needed

 

Hopping and dexterity competitions need to happen on a level, shock-absorbent surface area. Floor mats are excellent, but dirt, sand, or sawdust are also acceptable. If practicing is done on the lawn, it must be free of chemicals. 

 

In rabbit agility competitions:

  • All jumps should have displaceable bars that drop easily if the rabbit touches it from either direction.
  • All jumps and also challenges should be repainted with all-weather safe water-based paint. Jump bars have red stripes repainted or taped on them to allow the rabbits to watch the height and also the width of the obstacle. Colored vinyl or electric tape works well, too.
  • Using a totally fenced area is best; however not required. If no fencing is used, the jumping or agility sector has a barrier of some type. The directory has to state what type of enclosure (fence or structure) will certainly be at the event and must specify if the event will occur indoors or outdoors.
  • The event hosts should have appropriate cleaning and disinfecting products for stained items and cleanup.
  • H-design harnesses and leads are required for all rabbit hopping or agility occasions. Leads should be made of a similar webbing product as the harness and should be 4– 6 feet in size. Retracting and rope leashes are not permitted. Leashes might be optional for rabbit agility events, provided the event occurs in a safe and secure area.
  • Unsafe leashes and any items not meeting safety criteria for rabbits will not be permitted in the competition or workout location.
  • A warm-up area should be offered with a maximum of 2 jumps that are an optimum of 10 inches high. This location should be monitored.
  • Tools are cleaned as needed between competitors and also events.

 

Obstacles need to be in compliance for rabbit agility:

Rabbit Agility competitions might have any or all of the following:

  • Open tunnel
  • Closed Tunnel
  • A-Frame
  • Tire Jump 
  • Bridge 
  • Pause Table or Box 
  • Teeter Totter
  • Weave Poles

 

 

Many people find rabbit agility to be an exciting hobby. And the bunnies enjoy it as well! 

 

 

Rabbit Hopping and Agility Equipment

Not all of these are regulation. They may be helpful during training and can be quite fun! Always supervise your rabbit with the agility jumps and equipment.

 

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