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Danish Hops

27 JUN 2007 | Posted By: Luke

Danish Hops

Danish Hops 1
Danish Hops 2
Danish Hops 3
Danish Hops 3
Visit the Lifelounge.com Bunny Hopping image gallery for more pics...

When you think about it, rabbit hopping isn’t such a weird sport. I mean, they’re rabbits, it’s what they do. It’s not like they’re being forced to do something that nature didn’t intend, like swim or play poker. So why does milk come out of my nose every time I think about a room full of Scandinavians watching bunnies jump over miniature hurdles? To get to the bottom of this involuntary snorting sensation, I’ve decided to bypass my doctor and hop straight to bunny hopping headquarters in Denmark, where I asked resident hopper Aase Bjerner what’s up with the sport of kaninhop?

In horse racing, there’s the Freedman family. In AFL, there’s the Ablett family. In cricket (and dodgy air conditioning ads) there’s the Waugh family. And in the sport of rabbit hoping, there’s the Bjerner family. Since 1993, Aase Bjerner and her sons have been right up there with Denmark’s top hoppers.

LL: So how did you get into this, um, unusual sport?
AB: When my boys were five and eight years old, they wanted a rabbit each so we went to a breeder here in town who had just been to watch the rabbit hopping in Sweden. From that moment, we were lost to hopping forever.

LL: How do you train a rabbit to be a hopper? 
AB: Before you start hopping, you have to train your rabbit to walk with a harness and leash. Then when the rabbit is used to this, you can move on to simple jumps. I recently got a new rabbit, Saxo, which I’ve been training two evenings per week with easy jumps.

LL: Your hoppers appear to be in top nick. Do you get extra points for grooming?
AB: No, when we hop, we are just judged for the hopping, but of course you have to take care of your rabbit and cut the nails, and brush the fur to take away loose hairs when it is shedding.

LL: How about betting?

AB: Sometimes in duel hopping (two rabbits competing in two completely identical courses) we have a bet on the winner. I once bet on my son’s rabbit and won DKK120 (AU$27), but normally we don’t do it.

LL: In Australia, the Melbourne Cup is known as the horse race that ‘stops the nation’. What’s the biggest event in hopping?
AB: The Danish Championship is the biggest title we can win. Rasmus (my son) has won twice in high jump with his rabbit Sinus.

LL: It looks like a sweet and innocent sport from the outside, but what’s the most scandalous thing that has happened in rabbit hopping? Any cheating or drug taking?
AB: Since we started we have not had any big scandals at all. People follow the rules, and the hoppers from different clubs in Denmark are friends and visit each other in private. Although there have been occasions where hoppers have been caught lifting their rabbits in the lead to help them over the jump.

LL: Who’s your most fearful competitor?
AB: In rabbit hopping it is the rabbits form on the day that counts, so at one competition you might be in the top, and at the next you might be down the bottom. Rabbit hopping is just for fun, so we do not fear our competitors.

LL: What happens to the rabbits that don’t make it as hoppers?
AB: We have never had a rabbit that would not hop.

LL: As an Australian, I have to ask … what do you think of our Princess Mary? Ever thought of inviting her to one of your competitions? I know she loves sports.
AB: Here in Denmark we are very fond of Crown Princess Mary, and she is very popular. Around the time our club arranged the Danish Championship 2006, Princess Mary had just visited a pony competition, and just for fun my son and I talked about inviting her. Last year I had a litter of rabbit kits in my rabbitry and I kept a female rabbit that I named for Mary. Just now my Mary is expecting kits, a little later than Princess Mary though.

Hopping Highlights

• Rabbit hopping originated in Sweden in the late 70s, but didn’t really kick off until it featured on the popular UK television show That’s Life! There are currently over 50 hopping clubs in Scandinavia. (There are also some clubs in the UK, USA, and here in Australia, but for some reason that doesn’t interest me.)

• There are four major events in rabbit hopping: long jump, high jump, straight course, and crooked course.

• The world record in high jump for rabbits is 99.5 cm, held by the late Tøsen of Denmark. While the world record in long jump is 300 cm, held by Yabo.

• Hopping is open to rabbits of nearly every shape and size, although Angoras and other longhaired varieties are encouraged not to compete due to complications with agility and vision. (Sounds like discrimination to me.)

Visit the Lifelounge.com Bunny Hopping image gallery for more pics

Or check out http://www.kaninhop.dk/uk

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