Explore the Fascinating Sport of Lure Coursing

A Lure Coursing sight hound in action.

If you are the proud owner of a dog with a strong hunting instinct and an equally strong desire for exercise, you may be a natural at the sport of lure coursing. This fascinating sport is designed to provide all the fun, excitement and challenge of traditional hare coursing, without the dead bunnies. Dog lovers can enjoy a cruelty free sport, dogs can enjoy lots of fun exercise, and everyone can enjoy watching these fine animals display their natural talents.

Artificial Hare

Lure coursing replaces the hares used in traditional coursing events with an artificial lure, often as simple as a plastic kitchen bag. The dogs can have lots of fun chasing the artificial lure, and the competition among dogs and dog owners can be quite intense.

The setup of the lure coursing course is actually quite simple. A simple fishing line is typically used for the line itself. A good quality 100-pound test line is a good choice for those in the sport. This line is then passed around a number of pulleys that have been staked into the ground. Lure coursing typically requires a large area, with a minimum of five acres in most cases.

Typical Coursing Set-Up

Most lure coursing clubs will use a minimum of two lures, typically set ten feet apart on the line. This arrangement serves to reduce the competition among the hounds during the coursing. The main line is then driven using a specially designed lure machine.

The lure machine is capable of driving those lures at high speed – up to 40 miles an hour – in order to accommodate the fastest of the hounds. This fast speed also allows the lures to remain safely ahead of the dogs.

Two or Three at a Time

During the lure coursing competition the hounds are permitted to run either in pairs or in threes. Each dog will generally be allowed two runs, and each run will be restricted to a particular breed. In the event that only a single entry from a particular breed is entered in the competition that dog will generally run alone, although those sole entries may be grouped together if the competitors agree. Even though they run together, however, each of the dogs will be judged individually, and typically only dogs of similar size would be run together on the field.

When the dogs are on the field they will be wearing their own individual colors, similar to the jockey silks used in horse racing. In the case of lure coursing, those colors are known as coursing blankets, and the colors used are pinks, cyans and yellows. A random drawing is used to determine the color each of the dogs will wear.

Judging

During the course of the trial each of the hounds will receive a score from either one or two judges during each of their runs. In order to arrive at the final placing the scores will be added together and compared with the scores of the other hounds within the stake.

Sport for Sight Hounds

Lure coursing is a sport typically enjoyed by owners of a special type of dog known as the sight hound. Sight hounds are those hunting dogs that have traditionally chased down game through sight, as opposed to hunting dogs that flush game, track and retrieve.

Some of the best-known sight hounds include the Afghan hound, the Greyhound, the Irish Wolfhound, the Whippet and the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Other popular sight hounds include Borzois, Basenjis, Ibizan Hounds, Salukis, Pharaoh Hounds and Scottish Deerhounds, and these breeds often do quite well in lure coursing competitions.

Competitive Fun

While many owners of these fine animals enjoy lure coursing simply for the fun of it, others see it as a serious competition. There are many lure coursing organizations throughout the world, and competitions of all sizes are held on a regular basis in many different countries. Some dog owners enjoy competing on a casual basis, while others travel thousands of miles and enjoy a lure coursing competition nearly every weekend.

No matter what your level of interest or the talent level of your dog, you just may find that lure coursing is the sport you and your dog have been looking for. If you and your dog enjoy the thrill of the chase, why not check out the exciting sport of lure chasing and enjoy some fun time with your best friend?

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Mary Phelan
What a contrast...between this form of cruelty-free coursing and the kind we have here in Ireland, as shown in the following brief film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D58qbzC-GI4&feature=player_embedded
 
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