Image via officialcrawfordcountyfairpa/Facebook
At the Crawford County Fair in Pennsylvania, things were literally hopping—rabbits, to be precise. The fair hosted its second annual Crawford County Fair Rabbit Hopping Contest, which brought more than 150 fairgoers to check out the long-eared athletes in action.
The course for the rabbit hopping contest runs straight—around 30 feet in length. There are 10 different jumps throughout the course, with varying heights from a few inches to a foot.
Rabbits are led through the course by a handler, who delicately directs the bunnies down the course. And being a rabbit handler is not as easy as one might think.
Handlers have to be careful to encourage their rabbits to follow the course without showing too much enthusiasm. With rabbits who are overstimulated by their handlers, the fight-or-flight instincts can take over, causing them to run off the course track.
The rabbits in this race seemed to set their own pace. “Some will be flying through the course and then stop to clean their face,” Rebecca Kunick, who officiated at the contest, told The Meadville Tribune.
But speed isn’t the only factor in the contest.
“There’s more emphasis on a clean run than a fast one,” Kunick explained to The Meadville Tribune.
To be blunt, rabbits who run will score higher if they don’t drop a lot of pellets. And if rabbits do drop pellets along the way, “You’re just supposed to clean it up,” she added.
Some highlights of the bunny hopping contest included several rabbits who reached the hurdles only to go under them rather than over. Some rabbits who successfully made the jumps were then startled by the loud applause.
A 1-year-old Dutch bunny, Chunk, was a beginner to the rabbit hopping sport. His 11-year-old handler, Camille Turner, used hay to help motivate him through the course, which apparently was of less interest to him the day of the contest.
“He just wasn’t interested in jumping today,” Turner told the local Meadville news outlet.
Then there was Buddy, the winner of the race. Buddy is a 2-year-old black Holland lop, who also was the 2017 reigning champion. You could say Buddy is a natural.
“I played with him a lot when he was little, and he just really took to it,” Emma Kennerknecht, Buddy’s 10-year-old handler, told The Meadville Tribune.
Buddy had the four fastest times of the day—making the 10 jumps in around 12 seconds in his second run.
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