The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping
Rabbit jumping is a sport that has become increasingly popular throughout Scandinavia. The sport is present in other parts of the world as well, however, Scandinavia has progressed the furthest in hosting and organizing the biggest events.
The history of The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping
The sport originates from Sweden in the late 1970’s, when the first rabbit club started having competitions in rabbit jumping. At the very beginning, the rules of rabbit jumping where based on those of horse show jumping. Over time, the rules have changed and been adapted to better suit rabbits.
In rabbit jumping, a rabbit must jump over a set course of jumps, during a limited timeframe (generally two minutes) and aim to do so with the smallest number of faults possible. The winner is judged on least number of faults and the quickest time. Rabbit jumping is perfect for people who want to spend more time with their rabbit, doing something fun together!
In 1986, the sport quickly gained popularity in Sweden. Two groups were separately responsible for organising events. In 1991, they met and merged the two groups as a subgroup to the Swedish Rabbit Breeders Association. Rabbit jumping continued to grow exponentially as a sport and this led to the formation of the federation we have today.
On September the 3rd 1994, the Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping was established nationwide. At the present time, there are more than 1100 members, in 20 affiliated clubs spread across Sweden, all of which are arranging competitions in rabbit jumping. The federation’s main purpose is to develop the sport and ensure the fairness of competitions. The federation also ensures that there are two Swedish Championships held every year and that on a yearly basis, the opportunity is provided to educate new judges within the sport. Yet another priority for the federation is working with international relations to other countries. Having a good connection and cooperation with other countries is intrinsic to the sport’s ever-growing success.
Federations exist both in Norway (since 2002) and in Finland (since 2004). Denmark, Germany, UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand arrange rabbit jumping, although they do not have federations. Hopefully the sport will continue to spread across the world.
Basic rules for rabbit jumping
The sport takes form in four different ways; Straight course, Crooked course, High jump and Long jump.
A crooked course is not dissimilar to show jumping with horses. The jumps are on a course that twists and turns, with different distances between jumps, whereas, on a straight course, the jumps are placed along a straight line, with exactly the same distance between each jump.
The aim, as previously mentioned is to jump the course, without incurring any faults. For every jump that is knocked down, one fault is given. There is always a judge recording the faults incurred and another person taking the time of the race from start to finish. If the rabbit jumps diagonally over a jump (with more of its body outside the jump, than over it), it will also receive a fault. If a rabbit is lifted over a jump that is not already knocked down, the same penalty will be given. In the case of a rabbit exceeding the time limit or jumping the course in the wrong order, it will be excluded from getting a placing in the class. It is essential that the rabbit jumps of its own free will and is not forced. The rabbit must also be in front of the owner.
The winning rabbit is the one with the least number of faults. If rabbits are tied for the same placing, the one with the shortest time will be the winner. When a rabbit wins or earns a placing (The number of placings is determined by the number of participating rabbits), the rabbit will gain one promotion point (or promotion stick in Swedish) towards climbing to a higher level of difficulty in jumping. If the rabbit does not receive any faults at all, it will automatically gain a promotion point.
In Straight and crooked courses, there are four official levels of difficulty; Easy, Medium, Difficult and Elite. Older rabbits can compete at the Veteran level and beginners can choose to compete at unofficial Mini level. The levels decide the height and length of jumps, the number of jumps and the technological difficulty of the jumps. The height and length of the different levels are as follows:
|Level||Maximum Height||Maximum Length||Number of Jumps|
|Mini||20 cm = 7.87 inches||30 cm = 11.81 inches||6|
|Easy||30 cm = 11.81 inches||45 cm = 17.72 inches||8|
|Medium||38 cm = 14.96 inches||65 cm = 25.59 inches||10|
|Difficult||45 cm = 17.72 inches||80 cm = 31.15 inches||10|
|Elite||50 cm = 19.96 inches||80 cm = 31.15 inches||12|
|Veteran||30 cm = 11.81 inches||45 cm = 17.72 inches||8|
The distance between the jumps must be at least 250 cm = 98.43 inches.
High jump and Long jump have different rules. The winner is the rabbit who jumps the highest or furthest. There is only one jump in the class, however, it is significantly higher or longer than the jumps on a straight or crooked course. Each rabbit is allowed three attempts at each height/length. If rabbits are tied for the same placing, the one with the least number of attempts will win. There are only two levels in High- and Long jump; Non-Elite and Elite. To gain a promotion point, the rabbit must jump either 60 cm = 23.62 inches high or 160 cm = 62.99 inches long.
At Elite level, the rabbits compete for Certificates. When a rabbit has gained three Certificates in a specific course, it is rewarded with the Champion title.
An important consideration for any course, is that all the jumps must be constructed so that they can be easily knocked down, without causing harm to the rabbit. The handler is not allowed to harm the rabbit in any way or use forceful techniques. The rabbit must not be lifted by the leash. The rabbit is required to have an appropriate harness, with a leash. Collars are not allowed, as they can easily damage the rabbit’s neck. Important also, is that it is only the rabbit that jumps the jumps, the handler walks beside the jumps and not over them.
To participate in a competition, the handler must have turned seven years old and the rabbit must be at least four months old. In High- and Long jump, the rabbit must be twelve months old. All breeds and crossbreeds are allowed to participate, the only basic requirement is that the rabbit must be healthy.
Teaching a rabbit to jump
Firstly, the rabbit must be taught how to walk in a harness. This can be done by allowing the rabbit to spend time in an enclosed area (for example indoors) with the harness on (supervised), to get used to it and later progressing to a stage where the handler can attach a leash and just calmly follow the rabbit around in a calm environment. When the rabbit is comfortable and not distressed by walking in a harness, low jumps can be introduced (about 5 – 10 cm = 2 – 4 inches).
Place the rabbit in front of the first jump and give it time to process and investigate the jump. The first time, the rabbit may need some assistance in understanding how to overcome the obstacle. This can be done by lifting the rabbit over the jump or gently nudging its backside. When the rabbit gets to the other side of the jump, praise it and let it walk to the next jump. When the rabbit has learned to jump – walk – jump, you can add some more jumps and after a while, and also increase the level of difficulty. It is important to not rush the rabbit or practice too much, because that can result in the rabbit losing interest. To start off, the jumps should be in a straight line, so the rabbit has an easier time understanding that it should look to the next one as soon as it has jumped the previous one.
If the rabbit is happy doing the jumps, then it will do them without much encouragement and actively look for more jumps on its own. The rabbit should, as it becomes a more confident jumper, maintain a fairly even rhythm between the jumps. Irregular rhythm or running out to the side of the jump are signs that the rabbit is unhappy, and action should be taken to discover the problem. Some rabbits can become stressed if the handler runs too close to them.
The jumps can be built out of pretty much anything, as long as the rabbit cannot be harmed by them when jumping. It is important to remember that the jumps must be constructed so that they can be knocked down in any direction, without injuring the rabbit.
Most rabbits can be taught to jump, however, some do not like it and a handler should never force a rabbit to jump. If a rabbit does not want to jump, it is generally pretty obvious. The rabbit will run to the side of the jump, lie flat on the ground or just refuse to move.
Many rabbits appear to enjoy rabbit jumping and some will even binky in between jumps. For those that do enjoy the sport, it is really good for them physically, because it means that they get to come out of their hutches and get some exercise. Rabbits that jump, have a much higher level of physical fitness, than those that do not and this by extension, can lead to them living longer, healthier lives.
There are some impressive world records held by rabbits in the sport.
The world record in High jump is held by the Swedish rabbit, Miss Pinky’s Gd Ch Harajuku “Dobby”, owned by Julia Samson. “Dobby” jumped 106 cm = 41.7 inches in height.
The world record in Long jump is held by the Swedish rabbit, Miss Pinky’s Gd Ch Harajuku “Dobby”, owned by Julia Samson. “Dobby” jumped 301 cm = 118.5 inches in length.
In conclusion, rabbit jumping is a fun sport for owners and their rabbits. In Scandinavia, the sport is growing and becoming more popular and we hope that it will continue to spread in popularity around the world. The sport is a great opportunity to bring together people who love their rabbits and also to give their rabbits a chance to exercise and stay at a higher level of physical fitness than the average pet rabbit.
You are very welcome to contact the committee for The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping if you have any questions.