**All rabbits must be in good health and physical condition before you start training, entering hopping classes or competitions. Owners and handlers are resposible for the care and welfare of their rabbits during all activities. Be SAFE, KIND, and PATIENT with all rabbits durring training and hanling**

What You Need To Start Hopping

A Rabbit

Harness

5 or 6 Foot Light weight Leash

PVC or Flat Boards that are painted white

10 jumps that are evenly distributed with 2,4,and 6 inch heights these should also be painted white.

Lots of PATIENCE

Selecting Your Hopping Rabbit

When Picking out your hopping rabbit keep in mind that it is easier to start with a rabbit that is 4 to 6 months old. Any rabbit can easily learn to hopp at any age if they are trained on a regular schedule.

Choose a rabbit that appears to very alert, curious, outgoing, and of sound temperment. You want to pick a rabbit that is in good physical condition and free of any paracites or diseases.

 The breed of rabbit you choose dose not matter, but it is recomended that you do not use overweight rabbits or heavyer breeds like any of the 6 class breeds. Running breeds do well, but other small breeds are just as likely to become a good hopper. You do not need a purebred rabbit to do hopping.

When you have chosen your special rabbit to start hopping, you will then need to expose your rabbit to different noises, surfaces, and all types of surroundings. You want your hopping rabbit to be relaxed whenever you put it on the ground. If your rabbit acts shy, nurvous, or apprehensive this is not the rabbit you want to use for hopping.

**We have found that the running breeds work the best for hopping. These breeds were bred to move on the show table and they love to run. This is what you want in you Hopping rabbit.**

*These breeds include the Belgian Hare (these are not recomended as they are a more fragel breed), Britannia Petite, Checkered Giant (again not recomeded as they are big rabbits), Englsih Spot, Rhinelander, and Tan.*

 

Preparing Your Rabbit for Hopping

Before You can begin training you must fit your rabbit to a harness that fits snugly but not to tight or it will interfere with the rabbits movements. A light weight 5 or 6 foot leash with a small snap hook is needed to give the rabbits enough room to move out in front of the trainer while on the ground.

Put the harness and leash on your rabbit and train your rabbit to walk around in an open area out in front of you with the lead fully extended. If the rabbit stops in front of you, bend over and touch the rabbit near the tail or tickle it in the rib area. The rabbit will eventually start to move forward when it sees you approching it from behind.(This is what you want the rabbit to do.) This is called the "Ground Work" and rabbits need to learn this to become a good hopper.When on the ground and moving at a fast pace a rabbit will never move in a straight line. You must help them accomplish a diffrent and new way to travel while on the lead.

A rabbits natural instinct is to run a "Zig-zag" pattern to avoid pray. When  your rabbit moves to one side or the other or starts to turn around, walk towards it in one direction then it will go the opposite direction. Your rabbit will eventually start to go in a straight line in front of you. Wearing white shoes allows the rabbit to see your approch somewhat easier and it will be more responsive in the directional training. You do not need to make quick movements. Be consistant and parient and your rabbit will soon learn this technique.

**This type of directional training will help your rabbits to learn the technique of moving forward and help it to see the upcoming jumps easier. Once your rabbit has understood the technique it will soon start to hop forward without you having to touch it. This is very important once your rabbits start to go over jumps at a running pace.**

Whats Next.......

Next you will need some sticks, PVC, or flat boards that are painted white and lay them horizontally in front of you on the ground. Place them about 6 inchs apart going in a straight line. Walk your rabbit over the sticks, or boards. Walk directly behind your rabbit so you can guide it and slightly touch it to keep it on course.

Pick your rabbit up at the end of the course and and bring it back to the start again.(Repeat the process) **Do not allow your rabbit to turn around and go back over the boards in the opposite direction. Your rabbit might think that this is what you want them to do, and it will keep going over the jumps the wrong way. Rabbits are to be trained in a forward direction over all jumps. Consistancy to forward motion creates a less confused rabbit and one that will hop correctly and quickly.

The boards on the ground teach the rabbit to look at the objects in front of them and to stay focused on something set in front of its path. Practice this method daily for one week, twice a day until it hops through the sticks at a quick pace. This is an important process as part of the ground work.

You do not want to overwork your rabbit durring the beginning training sessions. It is best to keep your original training time down to 15 or 20 minutes once a day for the first week. By the second week you can advance to 20 or 30 minutes for each session twice a day. PATIENCE, talking quietly and ALOT of praise will keep your rabbit comfortabule and happy during all training sessions.

Training should take place on grass, smooth dirt surfaces, carpeted areas, and/or indoors on a carpeted surface. Never hop your rabbits in direct hot sun, when it is raining, or on a rocky surface such as asphalt or concrete. Be safe at all times, you do not want to injure your rabbit.

Training To Go Over The Jumps

Begin by setting up a series of 6 jumps in a row with the bar heights at 2 inchs, 4 inchs, and 6 inchs.

To start your rabbit over the jumps, set the rabbit in front of the first jump. (which should be the lowest jump) Place one hand underneath the front legs of the rabbit and the other hand underthe rabbits bottom. Lift the rabbit forward and over the jump bar gently letting it land on the other side. You will have to repeat this several times until the rabbit understands that it can hop over the bars on it's own. TALK to your rabbit during training using words like "hop-hup or Over" or make a clicking shound so your rabbit will understand that you want them to jump each time.

When the rabbit has learned how to hop over up to 10 jumps placed in a straight line, at 2, 4, and 6 inch heights, you can set up a few higher jumps. This may take at least a week or two with daily practice until your rabbit understands the concept of hopping through the jumps on it's own with you following to the side of the jumps holding the leash.

After your rabbit jumps easily between each set of jumps, you can now arrange some of the jumps at an angle. If your rabbit refuses to hop or knocks down the bars, lower the height of the bars and repeat the basic course unril the rabbit completes the jumps with ease and without knocking down any of the bars.

Training areas should include grass outdoors and/or carpeted areas inside buildings to get your rabbits used to hopping in all areas.

Kids doing Hopping

These are the kids that have told me that they are interested in hopping:

Mary Mulder training Chocolate a Chocolate English Spot doe

Jessie Mulder training Bugs a Black Himalayan Buck

Rachel Boreman training Basel a Lilac English Spot Buck

Emily Timmer training Harvy a Broken Chocolate Mini Rex Buck

Project Leader: Becky Dubbink training  Indy a Rhinelander Buck, and Lucky a Mutation dutch buck.  If interested in joining our hopping club pease contact Becky at [email protected] or 616-820-9417.