Info provided by: The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping!
Rabbit jumping is a sport that grows bigger and gets more popular all around Scandinavia and this is also where it is most developed. The point is to get through a track with as few faults as possible. Rabbit jumping is a perfect sport for anyone that wants to do something fun together with their rabbit!
History / about The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping
The rabbit jumping started in Sweden late in the 1970´s when the first rabbit club started to arrange rabbit jumping competitions. By then, the rules were based on the rules from horse jumping, but today they are reformed to be better well suited for rabbits.
In 1986 the sport started to spread all over the Swedish country, but there was no cooperation or contact between the different clubs. In the beginning of 1991 they met to merge the two parts under the organization of rabbit breeding in Sweden. The rabbit jumping was growing bigger, but still some people felt that it could not develop in the same pace they wanted. This led to the organization we have today. The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping (SKHRF) was established September 3, 1994.
Today SKHRF has nationwide coverage, with about 750 members in 20 affiliated clubs in different parts of the country. There are competitions arranged almost every week somewhere in the country. The main purpose with the organization is to develop the sport and make sure that fair competitions is arranged - judges for the sport are educated to make sure we get the same high quality on the competitions no matter what club our members choose to compete. We also make sure there are two Swedish national championships arranged in the different events every year.
At present there is federations for rabbit jumping in both Norway (established in 2002) and Finland (2004), and also people that do the sport in a smaller scale in Denmark. Our hope is to get in contact with people from even more countries that are interested, and be able to cooperate with them to get the sport to spread even more.
About rabbit jumping/some basic rules
Today there are four official events that you can compete in. They are straight track, winding track, high jump and long jump.
The tracks have 8-12 obstacles (depending on the level of difficulty) that the leader (något annat) is supposed to help the rabbit through with as few faults as possible. The obstacles needs to be passed in the correct order for the equipage not to be excluded for taking the wrong way. The height of the obstacles also depends on the level of difficulty. There are four different levels to compete in and the heights of the obstacles in each of them are 30, 38, 45 and 50 cm.
In straight track the obstacles are placed in a row and in the winding track in a logically turned order, but not in a distinct pattern like an L, S or something like that (it should look almost like a horse jumping track). For each obstacle that is knocked down the rabbit and the leader (the ekuipage) gets one fault. You are also penalized with one fault if you choose to lift the rabbit over an intact obstacle, if the rabbit jumps over it the wrong way, that is adrift (criss-crossing or inbetween the bars, if the rabbits go over the start marker before it is allowed, and after three corrections. A correction is when the leader gives the rabbit a new run-up for an obstacle. Corrections are not taken into account at the lowest level of difficulty.
In the tracks there is as mentioned four different levels of difficulty. Higher levels includes more difficult obstacles in the tracks. All equipage starts out in the lowest level of difficulty, and for each placing they get what we call an "upgrade point". When the rabbit has three upgrading points in the same level of difficulty it has qualified for the next following level. The number of placings in each given class is based on the number of starting rabbits. For every five starting rabbits one place is given. For example if there is 10 starting rabbits two places are given, if there are 26 starting rabbits six places are given. However the rabbit must finish the track with less than two faults per round to get an upgrading point. The most common is that one basic round and a final is arranged, which means that you can have up to at total of 4 faults and still get an upgrading point. If the rabbit completes two rounds without any faults it will receive a upgrading point no matter of the placing number.
The lowest level of difficulty is called "easy" and this is the class were all rabbits begin. The maximum height is 30 cm (11,81 inches) and the track has at least 8 obstacles. After collect-ing three upgrading points the rabbit qualifies for the next level which is "harder than easy". Here the maximum height of the obstacles is 38 cm (14,96 inches) and the track should con-tain 10 of them. Like before, the rabbit has to collect three upgrading points until it's qualified for the next class which is called 'difficult'. This level has a maximum height of 45 cm (17,72 inches) and there should still be at least 10 obstacles. You must collect five upgrading points in the difficult level before you are qualified for the most difficult class, which is called 'Elite'. The elite has a maximum height of 50 cm (19.96 inches) and the track has 12 obstacles.
The length of the obstacles are adjusted to fit the class, but there is a maximum lenght in the easy class that is 45 cm (17.72 inches) and for the other 80 cm (31,15 inches). There are also regulations for the shortest lenght between the obstacles. That is 250 cm (98.43 inches) in all the classes, but in the higher levels even a further distance is preferred to give the rabbits as many good possibilities as possible. In 'difficult' and 'elite' there must be a water obstacle. This is special in the way that it counts as one fault if the surface of the water is touched. The width of the obstacles, which is the length on the bars, should not be less than 60 cm (23.62 inches).
In addition to the obstacles, there must be a low start and finish obstacle. These obstacles are not included in the track together with the other obstacles, they are only used for the purpose to know when to start and stop the time. In all the classes you need to finish within a maximum time limit, the most common is two minutes. The leader will be noticed when there are 30 and 10 seconds left.
There are some different judgings, A-F. The most common is judging C which means that all ekuipages makes one round and that a predecided number of them will make it to a final round. Judging D is also. That means that all the ekuipages that completes the first round are allowed to start in the second round.
This was a short description of the most important rules in the two tracks, so now let us move forward to the long and high jump. In these two events the rabbit jumps over a single specially made obstacle.
In the high jump it is all about jumping as high as possible. The obstacle increases in height after every round. The rabbits have three attempts on each height. If the rabbit fails all three attempts the ekuipage is eliminated. The rabbits that performed the jump correctly continue to the next round, in which the height of the obstacle is increased. You cannot clear the same height more than once. If all the rabbits that is still in the competition fails at the same height, the winner is the rabbit that has used the least attempts to clear the previous height. If those results are also the same you have to look at the height before that and so on until you can seperate them to get a winner. If not there have to be a "recompetition" between those ekui-pages that ended at the same result.
Long jump has the same system of declaring a winner, but here the rabbit must jump as far as possible.
In high and long jump we have a different upgrading system than in competition in tracks. There are only two classes, 'not elite' and 'elite'. The rabbits starts in not elite. To recieve an upgrading point in these events a limit of 60 cm (23.62 inches) in high jump and 160 cm (5,2 feet) in long jump must be cleared. To advance to elite in either of the events, the ekuipage have to collect three upgrading points respectively.
When you have reached the elite level in all events, there are no longer any competitions for upgrading points. Instead, the winner of the class recieves a certificate, if the class has more than 10 starting rabbits. To recieve a certificate in high jump the rabbit must also clear a height of at least 70 cm (27,56 inches) and in long jump 180 cm (5,9 feet). If a rabbit recieves three certificates in the same event taken in at least two different clubs, the owner can, regardless of the number of certificates recieved in the other events, ad the title champion to its name. If the rabbit becomes a champion in two events you ad Great Champion, in three events Super Champion and in all four events Grand Champion.
The most important factor in rabbit jumping is the safety of the rabbits. The obstacles are not allowed to be built in a way that the rabbits under any circumstances can hurt themselves. Nails cannot be used to put the bars on. You are not allowed to beat or kick the rabbit, and you can of course never lift it only by its leach. No stressing sounds or acts is allowed and if the rabbit needs to be guided, this should be done by gently using the hands, never the feet or just the leash. The hand holding the leash must be behind the rabbit at all times. The leader of the rabbit cannot go over the obstacles; he or she must pass next to them.
To start in a competition you must have turned 7 years old. The rabbit does not have to be a specific breed for you to compete with it. As long as it has gained the right age, is healthy and not pregnant or nuturing you are welcome to participate with it. It must be older than 4 months for competing in the course events, and 12 months for high and long jump. It is im-portant that the rabbit, for it's own safety, is held in a harness with a leash. Necklaces or harnesses with a stranglig effect are not allowed.
How do you teach your rabbit how to jump?
Before you start teaching you rabbit how to jump over the obstacles you must teach it to walk in a harness. When the rabbit feels safe and brave walking in the harness, you can start to teach it how to jump. Start with two low obstacles (about 5 -10 cm (2-4 inches)). Put the rabbit in front of the first obstacle and give it some time to think. You might have to help it over the first time by lifting it or push gently on it´s backside to make it go forward and understand that it has to go over the obstacle. Help the rabbit to understand that it should walk to the next obstacle by showing it with the hands that it can not go to the sides, and if it doesn't want to move, wait for a while for the rabbit to have some time to think and then try to push it gently in the back again. Remember to always be gentle! When the rabbit has learned to master the jump - walk - jump you can add some more obstacles and after a while you can increase their height. Think about not trying to hurry and go to fast forward, patience is always the keyword when working with animals. Avoid pushing the rabbits too hard, and do not practice to much.
You can build obstacles from things you have at home as long as there is no risk that the rabbit will hurt itself on it. When building your own obstacles it is important to remember that the rabbit should be able to tear it down from both sides - it is very common that they "turn around" on the course and jump them backwards. Also, their should never be sharp edges or nails on an obstacle, these two things are the most important to think of for the safety of the rabbit.
Most rabbits can be tought how to jump, but not all of them like it. You should never force a rabbit to jump.
The world record in high jump is held by a Danish rabbit called Tösen. She has jumped 99,5 cm (39,17 inches). Her owner is Tine Hygom. The world record in long jump is also held by a Danish rabbit, he is called Yaboo and the longest jump was measured to 3 m (9,84 feet).
Rabbit jumping is a fun sport for both the owner and the rabbit. In Scandinavia the sport is growing and getting more popular and our hope is that we, with this text, will open the eyes for rabbit jumping in other parts of the world.
You are very welcome to contact the committee of The Swedish Federation of Rabbit Jumping if you have any questions about the sport or if you want to help us with the cooperation between countries. Our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
The authors of this article is Alexzandra Larsson, and translations is done by Alexzandra Larsson, Malin Berglund and Jonas Rönnblom. Anyone who wants to find out more about rabbit juming in Sweden is welcome to contact us at Malin Berglund @ email@example.com and Alexzandras @ firstname.lastname@example.org