Lure Coursing Explained.
TALLY HO! Two sighthounds spring from the slip, running, turning, straining every muscle to catch a flapping tumbling lure as enthusiastically as their ancestors did to catch live game generations ago. It is a breathtaking spectacle - beautiful, healthy hounds exerting themselves to the limit in an activity similar to the one for which they were bred.
Coursing is a sport as old as the first relationship between hound and man, which goes back to ancient times and can be seen by pictures and tapestries in art museums. Now days, Lure Coursing is a sport which is extremely popular in England, Europe, Australia and the U.S.A., where it originated. However, in days gone by, it was not always done for amusement or training, but often to get food or eliminate predators.
In these gentler times, coursing live game is no longer necessary for survival; in many areas such coursing is impractical. But we can still give our hounds the excitement of the hunt through the sport of Lure Coursing.
We merely replace the live game with an artificial lure tied to a line and pulled along a course laid out through an open field. These hounds have been bred to chase and they are oblivious to the fact that the lure is only a white plastic bag.
If you own one of the purebred KC or NGA registered sighthound, you might want to try Lure Coursing with your hound at British Sighthound Field Association (BSFA) events.
Why to begin lure coursing?
- Firstly, your hound will probably love it. Even the most pampered and dignified of sighthounds can rarely resist the opportunity to chase and catch something - anything!
- Secondly, it's a great way to keep your hound healthy, physically and mentally fit. A hound in proper shape is trim and muscular, with heart, lungs and circulation in peak condition.
- Thirdly, it gives you a chance to evaluate your hound in a way the show ring can not.
Our sighthounds are beautiful, but they are functional animals too. A judge in the ring can certainly evaluate beauty, type and the potential to function adequately in the field. But these judges do not see the hounds run, turn, recover from a fall, so can not evaluate speed, agility, determination, courage - the qualities so important in a coursing hound. Lure coursing demands and values all these qualities.
Before you begin lure coursing
Before you start lure coursing, make sure your hound is in good physical condition. Sighthounds should be at the proper weight for their size and build and free from disease and parasites. Your hound should be getting frequent, vigorous exercise and its feet should be conditioned to a variety of surfaces.
How to begin lure coursing?
To begin coursing your sighthound, please contact the secretary of the BSFA. You will be put on the mailing list and sent details of events as they confirmed.
What happens at a lure field trail?The course is laid out before the trial, generally in a fenced field. The course is approximately 500 yards long and usually includes some straight runs and a number of turns. The field is checked for anything that could be a danger to the hounds (holes, etc.).
During the event dogs follow an artificial lure around a course on an open field. Coursing dogs are scored on speed, enthusiasm, agility, endurance, and their ability to follow the lure.
When the course is called, hounds line up in the collecting ring to be organised into pairs, single runs to go out to the Huntmaster and the starting line. The Huntmaster gives the signal to release the hounds with a 'Tally Ho!'
The Lure Operator is now in charge. The lure should run ahead of the lead hound. The Operator must be prepared to stop the lure instantly on the rare occasion of a problem occurring. It is largely the skill of this person that makes an exciting run possible while minimising the risk of injuries.
As the hounds finish the course the Huntmaster calls 'Retrieve your hounds'.
On the field the judges are scoring each hound on its performance and the timekeepers are noting the time for each hound. The cards are handed to the Field Clerk, the addition is checked and the time is transformed into points then the final scores are posted.
At a meeting the hounds can run in any order but are judged against their own breed so that the hound with the highest score at the end of the day will be Best In Breed. The hound with the top score will be deemed Best In Field overall.
If you have any questions about lure coursing your hounds, please contact a member of BSFA for more information.