Its hardly a secret that rabbits like to hop. But now European rabbit enthusiasts have harnessed their bunnies’ natural talents to create a new spectator sport… rabbit showjumping.
Invented in Sweden in the early Eighties, Kaninhop involves bunnies bouncing their way around courses consisting of several small jumps of varying height and length.
Snoopy, a black-and-white bunny from the German city of Jena, is the star of the local Kaninhop club – and he makes spends his days leaping over all manner of barricades, jumps and rails.
‘Snoopy can jump 60 centimeters (about 2 feet) high,’ proud Claudia Fehlen, the 23-year-old founder of the Jena bunny hopping club, told Der Spiegel. And he has done well in tournaments. He came in second once, and third another time.
Over the past few decades to sport has spread far from its Scandinavian homeland and clubs have now sprung up in several other European countries, the U.S., Canada and even Japan.
Rules vary from country to country, but generally the more jumps a rabbit clears the higher its score. There is also sometimes a time element to competitions.
As well as the dressage-style courses, there are also long-jump and high-jump challenges. The world height record is 99.5cm while the best distance is fully three metres, according to Swedish fan site kaninhoppning.se.
Miss Fehlen discovered the sport on the internet about five years ago. She practiced with her pet rabbits in her back garden before starting the Jena club in 2009.
Now there are 13 members who gather once a week in the eastern German city to train their animals.
Animal rights activists are alarmed by the past-time. Sweetrabbits, a private animal rights initiative in Germany, has criticised the use of leashes in Kaninhop competitions.
The group has even accused trainers of using the tethers to pull uncooperative rabbits over the obstacles.
But Miss Fehlen points out important practical reasons for keeping competing rabbits leashed: ‘We use them in tournaments for safety,’ she said.
‘Just think of what would happen if a male were to break free. We want to avoid uncontrolled reproduction. It has happened before.’
Article originally posted on Dailymail.co.uk – Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1381464/Bunny-rabbits-compete-jumping-course-Dressage-set-world-storm.html#ixzz1LwetGQz8