Bunnies brave obstacle course at fair

Exercise tests rabbits' agility, owners' patience

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photoAmanda Pereira, 14, of Vancouver, dangles a carrot in an attempt to coax her rabbit, Myka, through a tunnel during a bunny agility course at the Clark County Fair on Thursday.

(/The Columbian)

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If you go

What: Clark County Fair.

Hours today: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Admission: Adults, $10; seniors 62 and older, $8; kids 7-12, $5 today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., $7 after 5 p.m.; kids 6 and younger, free. Parking, $6. C-Tran shuttle, $2 per person round-trip from area park-and-ride lots; children 6 and younger ride free; $1 discount on admission with a bus fare stub.

Carnival: opens at noon; unlimited rides today, $25.

99.5 The Wolf Grandstands: Tuff trucks, 2 and 6:30 p.m.

Other highlights: Cornhusking contest, 1 p.m.; The Pirate’s Parrot Show, 5 p.m.

Pets: Not permitted, except for personal service animals or those on exhibition or in competition.

More information: Clark County Fair or call 360-397-6180.

Online: Download The Columbian’s mobile website for the Clark County Fair.

RIDGEFIELD — The agility course called for Daisy, the Dutch rabbit, to hop hurdles and a hoop, run up a frame ramp and climb onto a green "pause box" with a carrot.

The 2-year-old black and white bunny had other ideas.

She submitted her best Usain Bolt impression Thursday afternoon at the 2012 Clark County Fair, sprinting around the U-shaped course in a breakneck, overcaffeinated fashion. Daisy put an exclamation mark on her race by plowing through four hurdles stacked roughly a foot high.

"I don't think she knows what jumping is yet," her owner Trisha Horenstein, 18, confessed afterward.

Neither did Daisy's eight opponents.

The first-year race's other rabbits licked their paws clean, ran in the wrong direction and generally looked confused and distracted as they competed before around 50 people gathered outside the fair's small animals barn.

Both the free-to-enter event's organizers and rabbit owners said it would take more seasoning to get the bunnies accustomed to the course. Rabbits received points for each obstacle they passed and were also rewarded for speed around the course.

"Most of these rabbits haven't ever seen jumps before," said April Richardson, a Battle Ground resident who serves as key leader for the county's 4-H rabbits program. Richardson dreams of growing the sport to include divisions such as beginner, intermediate and expert.

The competition provides children a fun project that requires minimal space, added Richardson, whose daughter competed with her rabbit, Oliver.

Daisy's speed around the course won Horenstein, a 2012 Hudson's Bay graduate, a first-place ribbon and a gift certificate to Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground. Mill Creek Pub donated gift certificates for the top three finishers.

Horenstein walked Daisy on a leash hours before the race to burn off energy but it did not show Thursday afternoon.

She credited her rabbit's frantic pace with her decision to walk behind it. Other owners walked in front of their rabbits, futilely attempting to coax them forward.

Daisy went airborne several times when she attempted to jerk free of her leash.

Ellie Petersen of Ridgefield had the opposite problem with her 1-year-old Frosty Holland Lop buck named Skittles.

Wearing a lime-green harness, the white bunny became momentarily stuck on the hoop as it tried to clear it. At other times he retreated when his 11-year-old owner urged him forward.

The reason for Skittles' disappointing performance?

"He had just took second in a carrot-eating contest, so he wasn't motivated," Petersen's mother, Erica, said, as a rooster crowed in the background.

Autumn Richardson's 3-year-old Holland Lop named Oliver provided one of the contest's early highlights when he paused before a hurdle to rub his ears and lick his paws. He then retreated away from the hurdle.

Oliver also refused to approach the carrot on the pause box. He prefers bananas, 11-year-old Autumn said.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; www.facebook.com/raylegend;www.twitter.com/col_smallcities;ray.legendre@columbian.com.