When you think of show jumping you think of horses, or maybe even dogs, but bunnies? Believe it or not this is really a thing that people engage in with their pet rabbits. The "sport" is enjoyed in many European countries. It all began back in the early 1970s in Sweden and has been slowly spreading across the continent and Great Britain. I suppose for some people it is a real hare raising experience.

Rabbit Jumping Competition
Rabbit Jumping Competition

Image via Daily Mail

Could it just be coincidence that Sweden came up with bunny jumping competitions (or kaninhop) around the same time that they gifted ABBA to the world? Hm. Since good things come in threes, perhaps they were just filling out what they started with smorgasbords. But I digress . . .

Rabbit Jumping Competition
Rabbit Jumping Competition

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As with horses and dogs, the competitions stem from the existence of rabbit clubs. Norway hopped into the action in 1990. Does this prove that Scandinavians are crazy? Hm. That would explain a lot about me, but again I digress. The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping was formed in 1994. Other national organizations were formed in the following years. The Swiss developed rules, jumping equipment, and guidelines for rabbit jumping.

Rabbit Jumping Competition
Rabbit Jumping Competition Training

Image via Wikipedia

Fear not! America has been involved in bunny jumping since 2001. The American guidelines for the sport were created with the help of Danish judges. Of course, Americans have long been considered crazy by other nations, Scandinavian immigrants notwithstanding..

Rabbit Jumping Competition
Rabbit Jumping Competition

Image via Daily Mail

The American Hopping Association for Rabbits and Cavies (AHARC) was in 2013. Yeah, I didn't know what "cavies" were either. It turns out that they are an order of rodents from South America that includes the Capybara and Guinea Pigs. Some of these rodents do resemble rabbits. It was also 2013 when Australia jumped into the action.

Rabbit Jumping Competition
Rabbit Jumping Competition with Owner

Image via Wikipedia

The competitions include straight and crooked courses (dressage style for you horse people out there), as well as high jump and long jump. Just when you thought all rabbits were good for was making nasty jelly beans and making friends with Winnie the Pooh they turn out to be really cool. They can jump nearly 40 inches high and 120 inches long. The competitions are divided into five levels of escalating difficulty. Each rabbit must earn the right number of "promotion points" to move up to the next level. The courses are also timed as a part of the judging.

Rabbit Jumping Competition
Rabbit Jumping Competition -- We Have a Winner!

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The rabbits are run through their paces much like dogs -- while on the leash with their owner. Being on a leach helps keep the bunnies on track and allows the owners to give an encouraging tug when needed. Naturally the bunnies are also kept leashed for their own safety, and to avoid unwanted reproduction. Rabbit agility competitions also exist.

While all breeds of rabbit are allowed in competition, there are some issues with some breeds. The small breeds can face greater challenges due to their size, but can also overcome these. The larger breeds can suffer injury because of the weight they put on their front legs while landing. Long-haired breeds need to be clipped and groomed before competition to eliminate dangers cause by limits to agility and vision due to the extra fur. Show rabbits are now often bred much like dogs are and cross-breeding is common.

I can't imagine why I can't get the song "Let's Go to the Hop" out of my head. Strange. Hm. I suppose I should admit here that when I was a little girl I would wish on the first star every night for a bunny. Sometimes a kitty, but mostly a bunny. I've got the kitty, now to get a bunny. Star light, star bright, I wish I may, I wish I might . . .

Sources: Wikipedia, Daily Mail, AHARC, Wikipedia

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