Westmoreland County Rabbit Club's annual event includes new exhibit
If cuteness and “awww” factors were all that counted, the students at the Westmoreland County Rabbit Club of Pennsylvania rabbit school would have earned A's — and a carrot.
Wearing harnesses and guided by leashes, the rabbits — most of the time — hopped over the low hurdles of an agility course set up in a Greensburg Central Catholic High School classroom.
Want to make a rabbit star in agility training? Try a little encouragement and occasionally tickle its hindquarters.
The Rabbit Club, in conjunction with the Penn State Cooperative 4-H Youth Program, recently sponsored the 11th annual rabbit school, which drew about 150 students from four states.
The Rabbit Club holds the school in the spring, with courses in judging, first aid, competition, showmanship, record-keeping, animal laws and nutrition. The club holds a show each fall.
This year, the Westmoreland Fair will include a rabbit hopping exhibit for the first time, said Michelle Forry, a fair superintendent and chairwoman of rabbit school.
“It's sort of the new, cool thing in the world of rabbit clubs now,” Forry said.
“It's something you can really work toward. It would be great if other people saw rabbits as something other than just in a cage to be judged,” she said.
Several dozen children brought their bunnies to introductory and intermediate hopping classes, instructed by Francesca Reilly, starter of the Loudoun County 4-H Rabbit Hopping Club near Leesburg, Va.
Rabbit hopping originated in the late 1970s in Sweden, grew popular in the United Kingdom and is gaining ground in the United States, Reilly said.
Sarah Ivory, 13, of Acme, retrieved Stash, a Polish breed, from its hot pink cage.
A member of the Salem Saddle 4-H Club, she coaxed the 7-month-old, black-and-white rabbit to do what comes naturally — though in a more structured order.
Taylor Rubino, 15, of Greensburg, belongs to the Sunshine 4-H Club and the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
“He's my hopper,” she said of John Luke, a 9-month-old Holland lop.
“That breed is pretty good at jumping. We will find out how well he performs,” she said.
A rabbit's instinct is to “zig” and “zag” to avoid predators, Reilly said. They must be trained to move in a straight line.
She showed the handlers how to make a “clicking” sound to move the rabbits along and redirect them if they start to turn around.
Rabbits in training for agility events must be at least 4 months old, properly socialized and able to move freely.
Burly bunnies, pregnant ones and giant breeds need not apply, as hopping could injure them.
Rabbits can be “faulted” in a competition for displacing a rail, omitting a jump or running out of a course and not re-entering within 20 seconds.
They may run straight or crooked courses, or compete in the long jump (world record — 9 feet, 10 inches) or high jump (world record — 3 feet, 3 inches).
Johanna Sheppard, 4-H extension educator, said the rabbit project is one of the most popular programs in Westmoreland County.
“Over 50 youths participated in the project last year. And it grows with each year (due) in large part to the rabbit school. Through the many classes the school offers, people can obtain the knowledge necessary to properly care for their rabbit,” Sheppard said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Unity planners OK proposal for Route 30 retail development
- Westmoreland historical society holding antiques appraisal
- Hempfield man to plead guilty to posing as policeman
- Harsh February leaves Westmoreland communities short on road salt
- Charleroi woman charged in home invasion pleads, is released
- West Newton ponders adding to emergency call list
- Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum to kick off Speaker Series with stories of Jeannette
- Police claim woman stabbed husband at their Jeannette business
- Zoning update raises fears in Ligonier Township
- Court in the Classroom program provides insight for Norwin High School students