Manitowoc County Fair: Rabbit hoppers gearing up for competition
WHITELAW – A few yards of green turf dotted with hurdles of various heights is not a typical sight at the Whitelaw Village Hall. Even stranger yet were the rabbits of all sizes hopping over those hurdles with only a little encouragement from their humans.
Pam Lane, a member of the Paws N Pals 4-H Club, and her kids started rabbit hopping in 2015 when it was first introduced to the Manitowoc County Fair. Since then, they and their rabbits have enjoyed the sport and the yearly competitions.
“I just enjoy it, my kids really enjoy it and we have a lot of rabbits, so this was a way to have more fun with the rabbits,” she said.
Rabbit hopping, loosely modeled after horse show jumping, features hurdles of various sizes that the rabbit must jump over with as little motivation from their handlers as possible. The goal is for the rabbit to jump over as many hurdles as they can without knocking them over. Rabbits can compete on a straight course or a crooked course.
“They’re pretty smart, they know what they’re doing when they're going down the course,” Lane said.
During the competition, rabbits will start on an easier course and work their way up to a more difficult course, according to Lane. She said rabbits are judged for their speed, the height of the jump and their ability to complete the course without human intervention.
To get ready for the county fair competition, Lane has been coordinating monthly practices for those interested in rabbit hopping. She said there is usually a small group of participants from the Paws N Pals 4-H Club, but said there were recently as many as four different families taking part in the practices. Lane said she would like to include an agility course in the future, too.
Skylar Gengler, a 15-year-old member of the Paws N Pals 4-H Club, said her rabbit, Midnight, took to the challenge almost right away when they visited the Rabbit Hopping Tent during last year’s county fair. This year, they’ve both been training hard for their hopping debut.
“My favorite part about rabbit hopping is just seeing my rabbit having fun and watching her just love doing it and watching her just love going outside and having fun,” Gengler said.
Gengler and her rabbit have enjoyed going to the monthly practices at the Whitelaw Village Hall. She said Midnight usually does really well on the course, but on a particular August evening with a reporter present, the rabbit seemed more interested in napping.
These rabbits will show off their skills during the rabbit hopping competition at the Manitowoc County Fair Tuesday in the Expo Ice Center starting at 5 p.m. For more about the county fair, visit www.co.manitowoc.wi.us.