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BlueCamasRabbitry

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So...I'm thinking about starting some rabbit hopping classes in order to generate a small amount of income, and to give kids/adults/4-Hers an oppurtunity to actually train their rabbits in this wonderful sport.

Both of my local county fairs have these competitions, but I'm seriously thee only one with a properly trained rabbit, who has actually had time & experience on a jumping course, so I figure that I will probably be able to get quite a few handlers who actually want to learn how to train & compete with their rabbits.

I see many good things coming from this - one, is that we'd actually be able to form a rabbit hopping club in lower Western WA with a good member base, and two - we'd be able to hold competitions (of which people could come from Oregon, etc. up to compete), and of course then kids would have actual properly trained rabbits.

I was thinking of having a 6-week course, two 1-hour lessons a week, which cover everything from ground work, harness work, handling, up to jumping, reading body language, bonding, etc. I would ask a small fee of $5 for the entire 6 week course, which includes a completion certificate at the end, stating so and so and their rabbit so and so has completed the 6 week training course, and is jumping at least 6 inches (beginner class level).

I would allow 6 to 10 openings per course...and probably have 2 to 4 courses a year, depending on how popular it was, etc. That would be about $30 to $50 just from training fees, not to mention, the fee will cover membership into the club (non-official yet - Blue Camas Rabbit Hopping Club). All breeds & genders of rabbit will be welcome.

What do you all think of this? I'm planning on having the classes start in late Sept./early Oct. and end in late Oct/early Nov. but the times & dates (currently 3 to 4pm) might change if I get a job.

Any questions? Tips? Suggestions? Comments?

Emily
 

Korr_and_Sophie

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I am not sure if 1 hour classes are really enough when you have a bunch of people and rabbits there. When I did dog agility, the classes were 1 hour and there were at least 10 handlers and dogs in a class. We barely got much time to do the equipment, it would be run a couple jumps (or other 3-5 obstacles) then wait until you get another turn. With dogs, this only take about 30 seonds to 1 minute for a short course at the beginner level, with rabbits it could take 5-10 minutes for new rabbits.
For our club, the practises are at least 2 hours, usually 2.5 hours, but it is only once a month. We don't have much instruction and the handler basically works with their rabbit until the rabbit gets a good idea of what to do. It can take 30 minutes for a rabbit to get it or it can take the whole practise.
I think that if you want the rabbits to be ready, you might need more time for the lessons or to make sure each rabbit is progressing. One thing that might be helpful is to have a couple courses that have 2-4 jumps so you can have more than one person going at once.

As for the time, you need to consider who is coming. School age kids are in school until at least 3pm, sometimes later and usually don't get home until after that. Many adults work during the day so can't drive their kid or attend themselves until usually after 6pm. So unless you are doing it in the evening or weekend, it might be hard for some people to attend.

One thing to be aware of is the possibility of breeding. If you have intact rabbits, they can breed. You can have a rule that there is only one rabbit on the course at a time and only the hander of a rabbit can touch it unless given permission. If you have a contract or something, state that you are not responsible for breeding that may happen.

I don't know what equipment you have, but you might want to do a class on building a jump or make it a requirement of joining the club that they need to make at least one piece of equipment. It does get to be a pain when only a couple people have all the equipment and one of them never shows up.

Where are you planing on doing the classes, inside or outside? I don't know what the weather is like, but we rarely have nice enough weather to do it outside. If you are outside, the area needs to be secure both for run away rabbits and the possibability of other animals coming in. If indoor, the flooring needs to be safe for the rabbits, the room big enough and some temperature control (you would be surprised how hot it can get when people more around a lot).

Make sure people know what to bring. The rabbit should be in a carrier and have food and water during the practise. They should have a harness and leash that is suitable for the rabbit. Proper footwear and clothing is also important so you are comfortable. Flip flops, short shorts and a tight shirt and not the best for chasing after a rabbit. A water bottle is also good for the person.

Basically, you want to be prepared and have a plan. If you are adding anything to your website, put in the basic rules along with what will happen and the schedule. You want people to know what to bring, where and when it is. You will have to learn what works and what doesn't as you go, but it is good to know what you are doing before hand.
 

BlueCamasRabbitry

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Thanks for your input, Kate! :) That's definitely a lot to think about. ;)

I've bumped up the fees from $5 to $10, but once I get a schedule going, and people interested, the first 4 or so people to "reserve" a spot in the class by a certain date will get 50% off the training fee.

I'm thinking that, instead of 2 lessons a week, I'll just have it be a 2-hour lesson on a Saturday, since most people are available that day since it's a weekend, and I'm hoping to have a majority of the handlers be 4-Hers. Two hours will give more time for learning & hands-on time, and still allow for a 6-week course. I could even bump it up to 8 weeks, but I'd like to keep it between 6 to 8 weeks, in order to allow more courses thoughouta year, shoud I generate a lot of interest.

I'm planning on having the training be outdoors, until I can figure out some indoor training facilities. I'm hoping that when I move this fall, we'll move to a bigger piece of land with perhaps a large barn that would work great for indoor classes, competitions, etc.

I'm still working on all the details, like I've said, and I don't plan on starting until at least the end of September, so I've still got a while to figure things out. :)

As for the equipment, I'm currently just using things that I can find around the house (although I do have one nice jump), but yet are still safe to use as jumps. I'm planning to use some money from the training fees to invest in proper PVC equipment which will be safer & work well in any type of environment - indoors/outdoors, & the elements, etc. I like the idea of having members/handlers build at least a piece of their own equipment - especially if it's maybe something they'd like to see added to the course, then they could be the one to build it, etc.

Emily

 

BlueCamasRabbitry

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I figured I would give this a bump up, since I'm pulling out the paperwork, and starting to regenerate this idea. :)

I think I will be able to still do this around my part-time work schedule (usually 2 to 3 days during the week, and right now, some light work during the weekends), and I'm really hoping I will be able to.

An idea that just popped into my mind, just now, was that I could offer all types of courses - beginners, intermediates, advanced, etc. And that would allow for more classes, and more advancement with the handlers & their rabbits.

I'm going to go with 2 hour courses, on Saturdays from 9 am to 11 am (time subject to change.) Training sessions will also be worked in & around rabbit shows in the area. Sometimes we'll have to practice in the elements, but after a while, I'd love to be able to find a place indoors somewhere, where we could train. The place where we hold our 4-H meetings right now, would work, but the rent is $10 each time, so that could get a little costly, unless the jumping club did some type of fundraiser, etc.

With me working, I'll be able to put some of my money towards a few pieces of equipment, and then also have the handlers each build a piece or two that they would like to see out on the course.

I am mainly wanting to do these classes to get more people involved in rabbit hopping/agility, and also to get a little bit of money towards my rabbit project & the rabbit hopping project in general. The $10 class fees will go towards new equipment, and possibly renting out places to train in, during the worst weather. I'd like to start ASAP, but with it being fall here, it is going to be tough.

It's possible...that I might be able to rent half of a horse arena for a day, and that would be considerably cheap, considering bunnies are a lot smaller than horses, lol. This just came to me, and seems like a good idea.

Anyway, enough rambling... tips, suggestions, ideas?

I'm thinking about incorporating this with an online training program, so those folks out of state can also learn. ;)

Emily
 

Korr_and_Sophie

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As far as place to hold the classes, we have arranged to do it at a rec centre in a town near Calgary. I think the deal we have is that we get a room once a month for free and in exchange we preform at the Country Fair which is held at the same location. You might be able to make some sort of deal that you preform at an event in exchange for using the facility. We also only have practise once a month, so that may make a difference.

I have stared making some small jumps. They are 12" high and the bases are 5X7" (from Michaels). With this height, you only need 3-5 poles and they are much easier to transport. Each one costs about $10.
If you wanted to do the agility part, the other obstacles are more expensive. If you are just doing the hopping, then you don't need to worry about that.

With a horse arena, you do need to make sure it is suitable for rabbits. The floor is usually sand or dirt with could be harder for a rabbit to move around in. You also need to make sure it is clean as there can be horse poop around which is not something you want the rabbits exposed to. However, that flooring can be good if you aren't using something as flooring. We have foam mats, but almost always preform indoors on cement or other hard flooring. The 2 or 3 times a year when we are outside we are on grass.

Since it is just you doing the training, doing different levels could be difficult. You would be starting with beginner and as the rabbits get better you can add the other levels. As rabbits seem to take to rabbit hopping easily, having plans on what you want the rabbits to have accomplished before moving to the next level. It could be jumping a certain height, being able to do a number of jumps in a row or doing the course on their own without the handler doing too much to help. For example: beginner could be getting the rabbits used to being on a harness and leash, going over a small jump and doing some voice commands (over, jump). The intermediate class would be higher jumps, more jumps in a sequence, double jumps and the handler not touching the rabbits once it gets moving. The advanced class could be increasing the height, more jumps, changing the course design (turns) and working off leash if possible.

On online program might work, but the people doing it need to have the equipment. You can only go so far with a couple jump in a living room. You could have a book about how to build jumps, training and then have contact info if they need help with something. Rabbit Hopping is a lot of hands on learning and it can't be done using just theory.
 

Rosemarie

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Kate, we turn in all volunteer hours from rabbit hopping and 4-H throughout the year which in turn they get funding for or something. I'm not sure how it works exactly, but the main reason we get the room is because it's a donation to the 4-H club. So that might be an angle they could use when approaching potential places for use of the space.
I'd say stay away from anything dirt or sand for flooring though.
 

BlueCamasRabbitry

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That is a good idea, something I could look into.... The building that would be rented for $10 a month is on the fairgrounds, and we have rabbit hopping there anyway, so I don't think that would work, but perhaps another place would allow it. I have been asked to perform at a local pet fair, and just couldn't due to certain restrictions, so perhaps the place that puts it on might have a building that they'll let us use, in exchange for performing at their annual fair.

Great! :) And these jumps are the PVC ones, correct? I'm wanting to use the PVC since it's universal in all sorts of weather, and will be perfect for the weather here in Washington. :) I think we'll just be doing the hopping to begin with, but perhaps we might add some pieces of agility equipment added later on.

Ah true, I didn't think of the manure on the arena floor, and the footing could be hard to jump in... hm. I will most likely invest in some type of pads sometime in the future, in order to practice on concrete floors, etc. but I've trained on concrete floors before without a hitch - right now training on turf.

As far as the different classes, I would be offering one course all on beginners, and then if that group were interested in the next level, the next course would be intermediate. I definitely wouldn't have beginner rabbits & intermediate rabbits all mixed up in one course, as that would get confusing quick, and be very hard to coach.

The online program would just be tips & tricks to rabbit hopping, and would be for anyone interested in learning how to start. Of course they would have to have their own equipment, etc. but this program would just show them all the basics of rabbit hopping, some training methods, etc. and then they themselves would go out, and practice what they learned from the videos. ;)

Emily
 

Korr_and_Sophie

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Rosemarie wrote:
Kate, we turn in all volunteer hours from rabbit hopping and 4-H throughout the year which in turn they get funding for or something. I'm not sure how it works exactly, but the main reason we get the room is because it's a donation to the 4-H club. So that might be an angle they could use when approaching potential places for use of the space.
I'd say stay away from anything dirt or sand for flooring though.
I guess I learn something new every day :).

BlueCamasRabbitry wrote:
Great! :) And these jumps are the PVC ones, correct? I'm wanting to use the PVC since it's universal in all sorts of weather, and will be perfect for the weather here in Washington. :) I think we'll just be doing the hopping to begin with, but perhaps we might add some pieces of agility equipment added later on.

Emily
Our jumps are made of wood. It is easy to work with, but could be an issue if you are outside. I also have trouble finding suitable PVC and the connecting bits, all the tubes are 10ft long and I don't really have the tools to cut it and such. If you can get the supplies and make it work, then go for it. The other equipment could be harder to make with PVC, but I guess you will come to that later. The Tetter totter could be easier for the base, then have a wood top.
 

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