Modeled after horse show jumping, rabbit show jumping (also known as Kaninhop) is a competition that involves bunnies bouncing their way around courses that consists of several small jumps of different heights.
Competitions are held mostly in Europe. It was started in Sweden during the 1980s where a rabbit club started to arrange a rabbit jumping competition. The first national championship was in 1987 in Stockholm, Sweden. After that competition, other parts of Europe started forming rabbit jumping clubs. In the 1990s, Norway joined the bob-tailed activities and competition, and developed new clubs.
By 1994, the Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping (SKHRF) was established in 3rd September 1994. In 2001, the Rabbit Hopping Organization of America was held with guidance and judges that came from Denmark. They followed the same rules and regulations for rabbit hopping from Europe.
The first ever American Hopping Association for Rabbits and Cavies held the very first national competition in the US by 2011 together with the American Rabbit Breeders association. It was held in ARBA Convention in Indianapolis. Australia started The Rabbit Hopping Society of Australia in 2013 with the help of Rasmus Bjerner, a judge from Denmark who helped the Rabbit Hopping Organization of America in 2001.
Attributes needed to become the champion of rabbit show jumping are agility, courage and determination. Breeders train their bunnies eight weeks before the show-jumping competition by walking them on a harness and encourage them by talking to them throughout training and during events.
These rabbits must first take part in four different rounds that includes different types of barricades, rails, jumps while these bob-tailed competitors are attached to a lead. Other courses also include a crooked course, straight course, a long-jump and high-jump challenge. These are divided into 5 levels – 20 cm (mini) -- 28 cm (easy) -- 35 cm (medium) -- 45 cm (difficult) and 50 cm (elite).
All rabbit breeds are allowed to compete but competing with small or large breeds can cause problems, for example rabbits that are less than 2 kg such as Polish and Netherland Dwarfs have difficulties jumping because of their size, and large rabbits like Flemish Giant and French Lop will have injuries after landing from jumping high obstacles because of their weight. For your rabbit to be perfect to the competition it must have long legs and a long back so it would help over long obstacles, also, it should be strong and muscular so their high jumps will not hurt them.
The world record jump height is 99.5 cm while the best jump distance is 3 meters.
Although rabbit show jumping competitions hve already become a popular event, animal rights activists have disapproved of the use of leashes in Kaninhop competitions.