Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Canines converge on the October 2020 Lure Coursing Trails in Florida.
Racing back after the lock down.
(extended photo feature at end of article)
From newcomers to Best in Breed winners, the games this weekend brought together a wide variety of dogs, families and people from across the country.
It is fair to say the COVID epidemic of 2020 hit dog sports hard, and both dog and human were eager to get back out to play at the first major Lure Coursing trials in Florida this October. Close to 200 dogs competed in the two-day event at the Florida Classic Park in Brooksville, Florida and came from as far as the mid-west to New York.
Lure Coursing provides a very large open field sport for our majestic sight (or gaze) hound breeds in pursuit of an artificial “bunny”, which is normally three white trash bags tied to a line that takes a winding course across acres of land to duplicate that of fleeing prey and is irresistible to the hard wiring of these hunting breeds.
Specific to Lure Coursing and different than a scent dog like Labrador or Retrievers or Spaniel are the breeds that use sight, and not scent as their primary tool in the hunt. Popular breeds like the Whippet to the vastly growing Greyhound population is dire need of homes, love and activity in the current explosion of “out of work” dogs across the state with the coming end of Greyhound Racing.
The old club leading the way
The Greater Ocala Gainesville Lure Coursing Association (GOGLCA) hosted the first event since restrictions in the state of Florida have relaxed. Attendance was high and the volunteers were very busy throughout with cars, trucks, trailers and RVs rolling in throughout the weekend. Club president and chair for the event Robin Barry was especially busy with both hosting management and as a judge for some of the trials.
Robin is best known in the Lure Coursing world for her advocacy and eventual success in adding the Rhodesian Ridgeback to the list of recognized sighthounds by American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA). At the time only five breeds were recognized and today over a dozen are eligible for titles with ASFA and close to twenty in AKC.
The GOGLCA history goes back to the 1970s and the formation of the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) in N. America. As one of the oldest clubs in the country it seemed fitting it would be one of the first to bring this ancient game back to the fields. Both ASFA and American Kennel Club (AKC) trials were being judged at the event, but also, “fun runs” for most any dog were run in between heats and are some of the most entertaining for spectators.
What is Lure Coursing?
Coursing is perhaps the oldest recreational activity of man and dog. Archeologists have uncovered images depicting the sports in the oldest of investigations around the world and it stands to reason that the bonds of hunting with humans is how we came to have them so integrated in our lives of thousands of years.
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. This more humane, safer and consistent format has been adopted more and more internationally and allowed for more standard judging of the dogs' performance.
The American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) came into being around 1972 and established standards the rules for Lure Coursing in American.
In the 1970's, "Lyle Gillette and other California sighthound fanciers who hunted jackrabbits in the open field, which risked the harm caused by barbed wire fencing. They invented lure coursing as a safer, more controlled sport for sighthounds that would recreate the physical requirements of open field coursing, allowing them to continue testing the functional abilities of their sighthounds. The hounds chase plastic bags on a course laid out to simulate escaping game." - ASFA
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 other breeds. Additionally, AKC offers titles for many sports through the PAL program.
Dogs of these breeds recorded with the Purebred Alternative Listing Program/Indefinite Listing Privilege (PAL/ILP) or dogs with Conditional registration are eligible to participate. - AKC
This sport is exciting and the dogs love it, but the best part for the human is the open door and support and love for the dogs.
From first time attendees and puppies to established handlers and award winners to retied professional racing dogs, their was a greater sense of everyone was welcome and days like these are needed in our world today.
Because the dogs love it!
Sarah Murphy has had dogs all her young life. At age 11 her aunt brought her and her new Pug puppy to AKC conformation handler classes and she's never looked back since. She fell in love with the Ibizan Hounds one day and now breeds, shows and competes around N. America, doing what she loves, but was quick to point out, she loves it because the dogs do. Not all of her dogs are good at lure coursing, but if they enjoy it? They are here to play too.
“What can be more fun than spending the day with your dog?” - Sarah Murphy
Sarah has recently branched into agility and her love for her dogs has evolved from casual pet owner to now an established breeder and competitor at events around the country. This young lady built her life around her love of dogs and her passion makes her one of the most recognizable and popular young faces in this timeless sport.
The dogs just love this day in the open fields and can reach their maximum speeds in their pursuit of the lure, but their safety remains a priority. As reported in the 2018 article lure coursing runs have several positions monitoring the safety of the dogs.
From the “Hunt Master" (starting line official), to the Lure Operator and the Judges themselves; any can stop the run at any time they observe a potentially harmful situation to the dogs.
"Getting a puppy started is my favorite thing. I love it when they love going after the 'Bunny' (Lure)" - Jim Gibbs, Lure operator
Not all about speed
The tortoise really can beat the hare…
In both ASFA and AKC trials the judges are the arbiters of who actually wins over all. The “races” are not really racing at all.
The canines are judged on a series of criteria that determines their skills in line with their breed. Some breeds chase close on the tail of the lure, some plot courses to intercept. The variety of “what represents” the breed is wide, and judges are specially qualified individuals trained to evaluate and score each dogs performance.
This is why it’s isn’t uncommon for the first to the finish line may not be the winner if a short legged dog performed admirably and according to the judging guidelines for their breed while a far faster breed was actually just that.. faster, but all over the place.
Veterans with Disabilities:
The GOGLCA is based in central Florida and hosts events across the region. This is a rural sport and the grounds are usually flat fields that may be uneven.
Most courses are uneven grass terrain and that may be difficult for some with mobility issues or wheelchairs.
Portable toilet are standard, but may not be modified for disabilities currently, but ADA compliant facilities can be arranged in advance.
The first step is up to you. For questions about Hero Dogz, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Precautions to adhere to health recommendations did not deter or burden the event where many of the attendees had not seen one another in months and warm greetings were abundant. In this difficult period socially in N. America, the dog community is remarkable in its reflection of its canines and keeps its eyes on the prize and a shared love of dogs overwhelms any differences of beliefs or backgrounds.
The GOGLCA is based in Central Florida and all sighthound's are welcome. The club holds regular events throughout the year, but importantly offers support for sighthound owners and decade's of experience in training, handling and the good health and welfare of your dog.
** Photo-Feature **
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GOGLCA AKC/ASFA Lure Coursing 3-4 September 2020
SATURDAY AM 3rd October 2020 Florida Classic Park, Brooksville, FL
SATURDAY PM 3rd October 2020 Florida Classic Park, Brooksville, FL
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