Lure coursing is an attempt to simulate the pursuit of wild game in the field. In place of wild game, the dogs chase a lure made of white plastic garbage bags, over a pre-set course. The lure is attached to a line and dragged around pulleys placed to provide turns on the course. The line is taken up by a large spool controlled by an electric motor.
The dogs used in coursing belong to a group known as sighthounds. Although there are several different breeds in this group, they all share some of the same characteristics. Sighthounds all have streamlined bodies, extremely keen eyesight, and are capable of running at great speed in pursuit of their quarry. The breeds that make up the sighthound group are: Afghan, Basenji, Borzoi, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Pharaoh Hound, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, and Whippet.
In a Lure Coursing Field Trial dogs run in trios, each wearing a yellow, blue, or pink blanket so they can be distinguished on the course by the judges. As they run, the dogs are judged on speed, agility, endurance, enthusiasm, and follow (how well they follow the lure), for a total possible score of 100 points in each of two runs (the highest possible score of the day is 200 pints). The winning dogs are awarded points toward a Canadian Kennel Club Field Championship.
Cousing enthusiasts will gather from far and wide, coming from surrounding provinces to take part. In recent years it had become popular to offer a combined event, where those hounds that compete successfully in the Lure Trial are eligible to take part in a Conformation Specialty Show afterwards. This is in recognition of the dual purpose hound, saluting a blend of both excellent form and function. The highest honour here is to take High Aggregate - the hound that has scored highest in both events, and is thus Top Dual Purpose Hound. Some clubs also offer Triathlon events, which include scores from three events, a Conformation Show, Lure Coursing Trial, and Obedience Trial. Triathlon winners are those with the highest combined point totals.
Lure coursing is breathtaking to watch, especially if you like sighthounds, and even more fun to participate in with your own dog. This is the sighthound's proud heritage. If you are the owner of a sighthound, consider this as something for the both of you to enjoy. If not, check out a Field Trial and see what you are missing...
Canadian coursing links: