Lesson Two

Safe Handling

Safe Handling Overview

Safe handling is something that every rabbit owner and hopping handler should practice every day. Rabbits are very fragile animals and unfortunately because of their fragile bodies can be easily injured. 

In this lesson, we will go over the basics of safe handling practices for the rabbit and handler.

The Basics

Picking Up A Rabbit

There are a few different ways to pick up a rabbit, however, there are only a few safe ways. 

Here is a quick overview of how NOT to pick up a rabbit:

  • Picking up the rabbit by the scruff

  • Picking up the rabbit by its ears

  • Picking the rabbit up by its legs

  • Picking the rabbit up by grabbing its mid-section/belly area

Not only are some of these too often seen in the rabbit world, but they are HARMFUL. These methods can cause physical injury to a rabbit and should NEVER be used.

Now, here is a quick overview of some safe ways to pick up a rabbit:

  • Picking up the rabbit by gently scooping its hindquarters and body 

  • Picking up the rabbit by using your arm to "slide" the rabbit into your other arm and then lifting

  • Picking the rabbit up by letting the rabbit "jump" into or onto an arm and then gently securing the rabbit

  • Picking up the rabbit by gently grabbing the hip area and then scooping up the hindquarters and rest of body (this method is usually only used for rabbits that are very difficult to handle, or for rabbits that are bolting and the only way to get a hold of them is by the hips. Please tune in to our Zoom session if you would like to see how this method can be done safely)

Holding A Rabbit

There are a couple of different ways to properly hold a rabbit, the first one, which I will demonstrate in the video, is the way that is taught by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). This holding method is safe and secure for most rabbits and is used for Rabbit Showmanship. 

The second method is the one I personally use, which I call the shoulder hold. This method is helpful for rabbits that are much more spirited and harder to handle. It also works best for smaller rabbits, or rabbits that are long in the body. One benefit of this method is it is much easier for the handler to secure the rabbit's front legs as well as keep the rabbit from jumping. 

Disclaimer

While these are very basic concepts they are very important for your rabbit's safety! In our Zoom session this week I will talk about and demonstrate some of these basic handling skills in more detail. 

Ground Handling & Handler Safety

Handler Safety & Behavior

While it may seem odd, there are actually some very important key points to cover regarding the handler. Most of these also apply to ARBA's Rabbit Showmanship events regarding attire and behavior. (Please note that many of these guidelines are much more strictly enforced in ARBA competitions such as Showmanship. For rabbit hopping and agility the dress code specifically is much more relaxed and focused on performance rather than overall presentation)

Here are some basic guidelines for the hopping handler:

  • Handlers should avoid wearing dangling jewelry including earrings, necklaces, and bracelets

  • Handlers are allowed to wear stud earrings if desired 

  • Handlers should wear but are not required, to wear a long-sleeved shirt

  • Handlers should wear but are not required, to wear long pants

  • Handlers should wear shoes with rubber soles (no cowboy boots, heavy combat boots, high-heels, or flip-flops) 

In this video we will go over the key points of safe handling on the ground and on the harness. 

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