Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Fast Hounds on a relaxed Winter day in Florida
AFSA/AKC Lure Coursing Brooksville
A typical Florida winter day. Scattered clouds, a cool breeze and occasional sprinkles across the green slopped field close to central Florida’s inner spine in Brooksville, Florida. Very different than the popular image of beaches and palms.
A procession of off-road SUVs and RVs parked around the field and immediately the sharp barks of excited dogs rang in the air as across the fields as three garbage bags swept across it in rapid speed and a series of sharp turns following a course back to their starting spot. There a large man sat next to a machine more at home in a “MadMax” film than the rural field. Soon three dogs and their handlers checked in with the ladies under a tent busily sorting papers and scribing notes to identify each team.
Three of these teams lined up behind three small rounded discs of different colors. Under the direction of the Hound Master they launched forward and pursued this lure in the rising sun around the course. The crowd of fellow Coursers released hoots and hollers as the dogs pursued and eventually returned to their owners to great praise, regardless of the first or last to cross the line. Because, in Lure Coursing, speed is not the necessary winner.
Lure Coursing, An American Creation.
Though coursing is documented to go back to Ancient Egypt. With various coursing in Europe mostly pursuing the tradition of live rabbits and a series of experiments with mechanical devises towing the poor creatures resulting in injuries.
Our modern Lure Coursing is an American invention with of O.P. Smith in Oklahoma creating the lure line and motor he patented around 1924.
The American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) came into being around 1972 and established standards the rules for Lure Coursing in American. Then the American Kennel Club (AKC) added the sport to their sports in 1991 and over time have adopted standards very similar to the ASFA. Both organizations restrict the traditional Lure Coursing events to specific breeds, but have extended sports for others, including mixed breeds. This weekend the Greater Ocala and Gainsville Lure Coursing Association (GOGLCA)
Laura & Jeff
Laura and Jeff saw the event on Facebook from our Bad Azz Dogz events page and decided to come see for themselves with their own two adopted Greyhounds, Casie and Will. Both were first time Lure Coursers and ran the "Practice Rounds". They showed their breeding instinct and not only ran fast, they ran the whole six hundred yards of this days course.
“Casie is crazy! She runs around the yard chasing her funny bunnies. We saw the Bad Azz Dogz event post on Facebook and decided to come check it out” - Laura
Words only tell half of our story.Our Photo-Feature of the weekend will show you the story of both days. (Three Galleries) See it Here
Lure-CoursersThey come from all corners. City Offices to ranches and globe-trotters.
Though Bad Azz Dogz has covered large events of all kinds, there are some that stand apart as having a more casual grass roots flavor. The GOGLCA’s event was one of those gems. An easy feel of friends or family at ease with one another and open to newcomers is always a great day to experience. Laughter and sincere ties of a friendly greeting with people who often only meet once a year. The correct observation? A shared passion for their dogs and the sport joins them and something any owner of a sight-hound should embrace. There is little to match the feeling of decompression among such a community. Jim the Lure Operator
Jim Gibbs is a carpenter and construction project manager who attended a Lure Coursing event some years ago where he met Robin. the GOGLCA President. After running a couple of practices with his Ridgeback he fell in love with the sport. After seeing a Lure Coursing motor fail at an event, Jim decided to make one better. The beast he built from scratch ran without a bump for both days and smoothly pulled lure after lure for the many teams. Jim believes you must have patience, practice and "want to" to be a Lure Operator and will only run lured for Robin and the
"Getting a puppy started is my favorite thing. I love it when they love going after the 'Bunny' (Lure)" - Jim Gibbs
First back doesn't mean first placeAs mentioned, in Lure Coursing, the first across the line may not win the race. When you consider that the final match ups for many events include all the best in breed winners, you may have the long legged and fastest of all Greyhound racing against the short but tenacious Besenji.
The weekends Judge, Thomas explained the various breeds are Judged by experienced observers who have passed a series of education and qualifications. They are looking for breed characteristics. Their pursuit, gait, instincts and more are closely assessed. Thomas explained that though the Whippet is fast and closely follows the lure, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a pack hunter and uses a team geometry to close and kill its prey. These scores are part of the calculation to determine each winner and act as a balance between the very different hounds matched up.
“You need to judge each and every breed upon their breed stock” - Thomas
We asked Thomas what the first priority for a judge was? As with every Lure Coursing official, it was the same. Safety of the dog.
Safety is first
At the recently during the AKC National Lure Coursing Championship we spoke to Katie Kaltenborn who is the Contractor for Lure Coursing under AKC Sports. She emphasized the absolute commitment to the safety of the dogs in the sport.
The trials are monitored by four official positions, including the "Stable Master" “Lure Operator”, “Hunt Master”, and the “Judges”. Each has specific duties and any one can stop a race if they see any danger to the hounds appear. Safety of the competitors is the highest responsibility and emphasized by the AKC’s guidance.
Both the ASFA and AKC (and other leagues) have a series and direction on qualifying your own dog to run in the open events and possibly the championships! However, the first step is attending a local event or contacting your local lure coursing club. Many (most) events include “Practice Runs” that welcome most any dog, but be aware, aggressive dogs are not allowed to run and many fields are not fenced, so be ready for that. Accepted Breeds for traditional Lure Coursing (Note: there are mixed breed lure coursing, and separate events for those) AKC https://www.akc.org/sports/coursing/ ASFA http://www.asfa.org/breeds/index.htm
Mary and Ellie
We first met Ellie and her mom at one of our favorite local beaches. Ellie showed a few spurts of speed, but was mostly a laid back dog and much like the whole racing dog community we have come to know. Mary wanted to see if the old girl still had that spark?
And did she! Ellie was able to compete in the "Single" bout race and not only did she fly around the hole course, she placed among the fasted dogs. Not bad for a Florida retiree.
Wrapping UpThe sport of Lure Coursing is one of the many with wide misconception and images of poor bunnies being pursued by near rabid dogs. American Lure Coursing is both focused on safety and a widely enjoyable sport but is very welcoming of newcomers. It is the hobby for all Sighthound owners. From retired Greyhound racer to Saluki. More Information:
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