Hmmmm….I’m sensing a trend here. Rabbit hopping has been hopping all over the media lately. This is the latest story from the UK’s Daily Mail.
Danish craze that has growing numbers of animal lovers hopping on the bandwagon
29th August 2010
Forget about showjumping at the 2012 Olympics, the latest sport sweeping Europe is the gentle art of rabbit hopping.
It’s a lot like the equestrian version – where riders encourage their horses to clear a variety of gates, fences and barriers. But rabbit hopping… well, the clue is in the title.
And before anyone reaches for the phone to call the RSPCA, the bunnies seem to like it – and human participants are not required to actually ride them.
It’s quite simple for the human being involved. All they have to do is give a little pep talk to their long-eared athlete, and then hang on to a lead while the rabbit does all the work.
Started in Sweden around 1980, the craze really captured the imagination of neighbours Denmark in 1993.
From there it has been going from strength to strength, with a rabbit hopping club opening recently in Germany and a number in the U.S. as well.
The 2010 Danish Rabbit Hopping Championships were held earlier this month, attracting a large number of competitors and spectators alike.
Enthusiasts of the sport will tell you that there are four main events:
The Elite Straight: Rabbit competitors are given a series of obstacles to clear in a straight line. More points are earned if the obstacles are jumped without hesitation.
The Elite Crooked: The obstacles are placed in an offset, winding pattern. Once again, the less instruction the rabbit needs from its human owner the more points awarded.
High Jump and Long Jump: No great mystery here. Obstacles of increasing height or length are placed before the competitors until there is an eventual winner.
It’s not a lucrative sport, but true competitors always prefer glory over fortune. The current high jump world record, for example, is held by the late ‘Tøsen’ (with handler Tine Hygom), who sprang 39.2 inches into the record books in Herning, Denmark, in June 1997.
Danish breeder and rabbit hopping judge Aase Bjerner says the secret to a champion hopper is to start training the animal young.
Mrs Bjerner suggests eight weeks, and says it’s best and safest to use a special harness rather than a neck leash, which can be a choking danger.