Rabbit Hopping and Agility Rules


The following Rabbit Hopping Rules will be used for 4-H Level Competitions held by Pawprints 4-H club.



Cloverbud Exhibition: Cloverbud 4-H members and other youth in grades K-3 may exhibit at the show. This is a non competitive division, and is for exhibition only. No placings will be given. All Cloverbuds will receive a gift.


  1. 4-H Member: All animal handlers must be 4-H members in good standing in grades 4-13 (one year out of high school).
  2. Open: Non 4-H members in grades 4 and up and adults are welcome to enter in this division.


  1. Hopping
  2. High Jump
  3. Agility
  4. Team Hopping

General Rules:

  1. No smoking in the building.
  2. Animal handlers are responsible for ensuring that they and their family members do not behave in a disruptive manner. Violations will result in warnings, followed by disqualification.
  3. Animals must be in solid bottom carriers for transport, and have access to water at all times.
  4. Animal entered may be any breed of domestic rabbit, no pedigree is required.
  5. Animals must be at least 4 months of age to compete
  6. Rabbits must be healthy and free of any disease or parasite. Health checks will be required upon entering the showroom. Any animals found to be in poor health must be removed from the showroom immediately.
  7. Pregnant or nursing does are not permitted to compete. In addition, any doe who has had a litter in the past 8 weeks is barred from competition.
  8. Dogs, with the exception of service animals, or service animals in training, are not permitted in the show room.
  9. Animal handlers will be responsible for cleaning up the area around their carriers prior to departure, as well as cleaning up any debris their animal leaves on the competition mats during the competition.
  10. Mating of rabbits is not permitted in the show hall.
  11. Carless handling of rabbits will result in a warning. Serious negligent handling will result in a disqualification. No refunds will be given for disqualifications.
  12. Rabbits shall proceed through the course and over the jumps voluntarily. Animal handlers are prohibited from forcing or carrying animals through the course, but may lift them over jumps, if necessary. Assistance and encouragement may not involve yelling loudly or any other method that would subject a rabbit to excessive stress. Touching your rabbit with your feet is not permitted.
  13. Judges are entitled to disqualify any rabbit who must be repeatedly lifted over jumps, or entirely refuses to move, as being clearly unwilling to jump.
  14. Animal handlers may choose to scratch any round in which their rabbits decline to jump, which constitutes voluntary disqualification. No refund will be given for scratches.
  15. Animal handlers must always embody good sportsmanship. Violations will result in warnings and disqualification. It is up to the judge’s discretion as to what constitutes poor sportsmanship. The judge’s decision is final.


  • Animal handlers need to line up at the gate when their name is called. Names will also be displayed on a board. Failure to line up after your number is called 3 times will result in a disqualification.
  • Only 1 rabbit is permitted on the course at any time.
  • Each rabbit may only have one animal handler. The animal handler must be the trainer.
  • Animal handlers are not permitted to step over jumps. They must go around the jump. Repeated violations will result in disqualification.
  • Beginning and ending jumps must always be present, and are not taken into account on scoring (no faults will be given for displacing rails on these jumps).
  • The jumps must be hopped in the correct order, otherwise a “wrong way” judgment shall be declared, and the rabbit will be disqualified. In order for a “wrong way” to be declared, a rabbit must have jumped an obstacle and all four feet must touch the ground. The start obstacle prior to the beginning of the course does not count in the wrong way judgment.
  • The final obstacle must be cleared in the right direction for the clock to stop. Once the rabbit has touched all four feet on the ground after clearing the final obstacle the clock is stopped, and the course is considered complete.
  • No treats (for you or your rabbit) will be allowed on the hopping course.
  • Cloverbuds are youth in grades k-3 are exhibition only. They will receive a scorecard with times and faults, but not placings. All Coverbuds will receive a gift.

Food will be available.

Faults will constitute any of the following:

  1. Upsetting an obstacle, or any part of an obstacle. One fault shall be issued for the upset, regardless of how many rails were upset.
  2. Lopsided jump: to clear an obstacle the rabbit must jump with its body between the obstacle supports. A lopsided jump fault will be called if the rabbit jumps outside of the obstacle supports.
  3. Lifting over undisturbed obstacle. A rabbit may be lifted over or around an obstacle, but one fault per obstacle will be issued.
  4. False starts: a false start is issued when the rabbit starts the course before the judge has indicated to the animal handler that they are ready to go. One fault will be issued, and repeated false starts will result in disqualification.
  5. Out of bounds: if a rabbit goes more than 5 foot off the course it shall be considered an out of bounds fault. One fault shall be given for each out of bounds instance in a course,


All rabbits entered in hopping will start on the Easy Course, and qualifying rabbits will proceed to Medium, Difficult, and Elite Courses.

Easy Course: 8 obstacles, not including the start and finish jump. Minimum height 6”, maximum height 10”.

Medium Course: 8 obstacles, not to include start and finish jump. Minimum height 10”, maximum height 14”.

Difficult Course: 10 obstacles, not to include start and finish jump. Minimum height 12”, maximum height 16”.

Elite Course: 10 obstacles, not to include start and finish jump. Minimum height 14 inches, maximum height 20 inches.

Placings for Hopping

Placings for hopping shall be as follows; each rabbit will be placed in a class based on the number of faults received. In the event of a tie, the rabbit with the faster time is placed higher.

Each exhibitor will make 3 runs at the course. All 3 runs are recorded on the score sheet. Advancement to the next class will only be issued to rabbits with 2 clear (no faults) runs, and the third run cannot have more than 6 faults.

The winner shall be indicated by the rabbit with the least number of faults on the highest class. In the event of a tie, the rabbit with the least amount of time shall be declared the winner, and in a fault and time tie, there shall be a run-off to determine the winner.

High Jump

The High Jump shall be the only jump on the course. The initial setting shall be set at 16”. Each exhibitor will be allowed 3 attempts at each height, one right after the other. They only need to clear the height once out of the three attempts for the jump to be counted as complete.

All of the exhibitors that complete first height setting shall be eligible to move on to the next height (2” is added per time). The winner is the exhibitor who can clear the highest jump.


Rabbit Agility: 10 obstacles, not to include start and finish jump. Minimum height 4 inches, maximum height 16 inches. Agility course will include: A frame, teeter totter, bunny walk, double jump, triple jump, and standard jumps. Rabbits will have 3 runs at the course. All 3 runs are taken into account when scoring.

Scoring for Agility: Number of completed obstacles (no rails or bars displaced, rabbit completes the obstacle), and in the case of a tie, the faster time wins.

Team Hopping

Team hopping utilizes the easy hopping course, and includes a team of 3 rabbits and 3 handlers. Each handler takes their rabbit through the course one time, and the scores of all three team members are totaled together. The team with the least number of faults is the winner. In the event of a tie, the team with fastest time prevails. Only one entry fee is taken per team.

Rabbit equipment needed

  1. Harnesses must be a flat webbing “H” style harness. The harness needs to be loose enough not to restrict the rabbit’s movement, but not let the rabbit slip out of the harness. Harnesses that pull on the rabbit’s neck will not be acceptable.

Look for cat or kitten harnesses. Harnesses will be available to purchase at the show.

Only H style harnesses will be allowed!

2.    Leashes must be between 4 and 6 feet long depending on the size of the competitor and be made of the same type of material as the harness. Elastic or retractable leashes are not allowed for safety reasons.

3.    Leashes and harnesses not meeting safety standards for rabbits will not be allowed to be used on the rabbit.

4. Rabbits must wear harnesses and leashes at all times when on the hopping course.


Awards will be given for the following (open and 4-H divisions for each):

Best in Show Hopping

Reserve in Show Hopping

Best in Show Agility

Reserve in Show Agility

Best in Show High Jump

Reserve in Show High Jump

Best in Show Team Hopping (award for each team member)

Reserve in Show Team Hopping (award for each team member)

All others will receive place ribbons (up to 6th place)


There is no running water at the venue. Please bring water for your animals.


It is easiest to begin with a rabbit of 4 to 6 months old but most rabbits will learn at any age if worked on a regular schedule.

Never hop the over weight rabbit or the giant breeds as this might cause physical injury to the rabbit.

Your rabbit needs to be exposed to different noises, surfaces and all types of surroundings. You want the rabbit to be relaxed whenever you put it on the ground. You don’t want a rabbit to act shy, nervous or apprehensive.

Put the harness and leash on the 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 during the walk, 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 approaching it from behind. This is what you want the rabbit to do. This is called the “ground work.”

Rabbit’s never move along in a straight line automatically. You have to help them accomplish this. A rabbit’s instinct is to run a “zig zag” pattern to avoid prey on the run. When the rabbit moves to one side or the other or starts to turn around, walk towards it and it will soon learn to move forward again with a slight touch from your hand.

The next step in training, while following behind your rabbit, is to move from side to side keeping the rabbit in a straight line in front of you. When the rabbit sees you move towards it in one direction then it will go in the opposite. Wearing white shoes allows the rabbit to see your approach better and it will be more responsive in this directional movement.

This type of directional training will help you get your rabbit to hop over the jumps. This will help guide the rabbit without touching it ----- which is most important once your rabbit starts to go over the jumps at a running pace.

Practice time should be limited to 15 or 20 minutes once a day for the first week. By the second week you can advance to 20 minute sessions twice a day.

Next, set up a series of sticks, PVC or boards painted white laying horizontally in front of you. Placing them approximately 6 inches apart going in a straight line. Walk your rabbit while in the harness and leash over the sticks or boards. Walk directly behind your rabbit so you can help guide it by slightly touching it to keep it on course.

Pick up your rabbit at the end of the walk and bring it back to start again. Repeat the process.

This teaches the rabbit to look at the objects in front of it and to stay focused on something set in front of it’s 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.”

Once your rabbit has mastered ground work lift the bars off the ground a couple of inches.  Most rabbits will catch on very quickly.  The first bar should be 2" off the ground, and each subsequent bar should be 2" apart so that the rabbit does not simply want to go underneath them.  

If the rabbit lays stretched out on the ground, he is telling you he is tired.  Time to put him away and give him a rest.

Keep adding more bars, one at a time.  Soon your rabbit will be hopping to new heights!




These rules have been adapted by the PawPrints 4-H Club in Blackwood, NJ, from the Swedish Rabbit Jumping Federation(1988), the Rabbit Breeding Organization of Denmark(1999), Iowa Hopping (2010), Rockin’ Rabbit 4-H rabbit club(2011), Kansas 4-H Agility Dog Show Rule Book(2012), and the American Rabbit Hopping Association(2010).