The Charm of Competitive Rabbit Jumping
By Charles Hawley
Rabbits, as most are aware, like to hop. But it turns out that they also enjoy doing so competitively. Kaninhop, a hobby from Scandinavia, involves setting up mini-jumps and other barriers for pet bunnies to clear in competitions across Europe. But they are kept on leashes for a reason.
The Easter Bunny has it easy. All he has to do is cart around a bunch of eggs and hide them on Easter morning. The rest of the year? Vacation.
Snoopy, on the other hand, has to work hard for his carrots. The black-and-white bunny from the German city of Jena is the star of the local Kaninhop club -- and he makes his living by leaping over all manner of barricades, jumps and rails. A few times each year, he competes against rabbits from across Germany. With a little luck, he might even make it to the European championships in Switzerland this autumn.
"Snoopy can jump 60 centimeters (about 2 feet) high," says a proud Claudia Fehlen, the 23-year-old founder of the Jena bunny hopping club. "And he has done well in tournaments. He came in second once, and third another time."
That rabbits like to hop, of course, is hardly a secret. Kaninhop, though, involves bunnies barrelling their way through courses consisting of several small jumps of varying height and breadth -- not unlike horse jumping. And it is a hobby which has spent the last few decades slowly spreading around the world from its origins in Sweden in the early 1980s. In addition to several countries in Europe, the pasttime has also become popular in the United States and Canada -- and there are even chapters in Japan.