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Lure Coursing

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Lure coursing is a sport for dogs that involves chasing a mechanically operated lure. Competition is usually limited to dogs of purebred sight hound breeds.

Lure course

In lure coursing, dogs chase an artificial lure across a field, following a pattern that is meant to simulate live coursing. A typical lure course is between 600 and 1000 yards (548 to 914 meters) long. The course must have a minimum number of turns in order to simulate prey (the rabbit) changing direction in a chase. The fields used are rarely fenced, however if a dog is lure focussed they will typically follow the lure from start to finish and not run off course, unless they are "cheating" by trying to cut the lure off.

Qualifying to compete

In American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) competitions, a dog must be Certified in order to compete in the Open category of the breed. To certify, a dog must run clean (no faults) with another dog of similar running style and be certified by a qualified ASFA judge. Dogs used for certification do not have to be certified themselves, nor do they have to be a sighthound, and judges can certify two or three hounds at the same time. In American Kennel Club (AKC) coursing, currently the dog must qualify to compete by running a minimum of 600 yards with four turns twice, in two separate trials, under two different qualified AKC judges. The dogs run alone, and once they complete both runs, they earn a Junior Courser (JC) title.

Levels of competition

Dogs are coursed by breed and in groups of two or three, based on the number of dogs available for the run. Dogs can run alone if there are no other dogs of the same breed entered, however their scores will not qualify towards a title. Running order is detemined by a random draw, and is not based on size or comparable ability. Open dogs of a breed are run together. Each dog runs twice during the trial. The first run is the "preliminary". After all preliminaries have been run, the course is reversed for the second run, called "finals". Dogs can compete in open stake, field champion stake (for dogs who have earned the requisite points) or veteran stake (dogs over the age of six years). ASFA also has a Miscellaneous stake for sighthounds recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) which includes the Cirneco dell'Etna, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Chart Polski, Galgo Espanol, and Magyar Agar. Once all preliminaries and finals have been run, a Best of Breed is determined based on scores. There may be a run-off between the Open and FCh hounds, or between any dogs of the same breed who have tied scores. After the Best of Breed runs, the top dogs from each breed compete for Best in Field to determine the best hound for the whole trial. In AKC trials, Italian Greyhounds are not permitted to compete for Best In Field. This is because Italian Greyhounds might be mistaken as prey by the larger sighthound breeds.

Judging

In ASFA trials, hounds recieve a numerical score based on speed (25), agility (25), endurance (20), enthusiasm (15), and follow (15) for a maximum score of 100 points. "Follow" means following the lure, not the other dogs. Once a dog receives a qualifying score of 100 points plus either two first placements or one first and two second placements, they earn a Field Champion title (FC). In AKC trials hounds are judged for overall ability (10), follow (10), speed (10), agility (10), and endurance (10) for a maximum score of 50 points. Once a dog has achieved four qualifying runs (50 point runs) they earn a Senior Courser title.

Because chasing things comes naturally to sighthounds, the dogs generally enjoy the sport. This is often called prey drive, the inherent trait to chase moving prey, and sighthounds are mostly born with it, similar to a Thoroughbred horse naturally wanting to run. It is also entertaining for spectators.

Sanctioning organizations

In the US, the AKC and ASFA are the two main sanctioning bodies. Participation is limited to purebred sighthounds. This group includes:

Furthermore, other sighthounds such as the Cirneco dell'Etna, Portuguese Podengo, the hairless Peruvian Inca Orchid, Azawakh or Tuareg Sloughi, the so-called "Silken Windhound", and the other FCI breeds mentioned above are allowed to compete together in the ASFA miscellaneous class. Only AKC accepted breeds can compete in AKC trials.

In Canada, lure coursing is sanctioned by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). In Canada, the sighthound breeds do not include the Sloughi nor the Italian Greyhound, which as of 2005, is still considered a toy breed by the CKC. There is an effort currently to get the IG included in Canadian lure coursing.

External links

For more information or to find a lure course event or judge:

Recommended reading

  • Sighthounds Afield by Denise Como
  • Gazehounds & Coursing by Dutch Salmon
  • Canines & Coyotes by Leon V. Almirall
  • Field Advisory News (F.A.N.), official publication for ASFA

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