Photo by Jane Taylor

About Lure Coursing

Lure coursing is a performance sport developed in the early 70s by Lyle Gillette and other California sighthound fanciers. It is a safer and more controlled sport for sighthounds that simulates the pursuit of prey in the open field. In lure coursing, hounds chase plastic bags on a course laid out to simulate escaping game.

Sighthounds are dogs that traditionally hunt by sight rather than tracking game by scent. Built for speed, sighthound breeds have a long history of being bred primarily to detect movement, chase and capture prey.

Sighthounds generally have no need to be trained to chase the lure since the desire to chase is instinctual. Some sighthounds, however, may require lure play at a very early age to encourage them to follow an artificial object with enthusiasm.

Lure coursing trials are limited to eligible sighthound breeds. For hounds, there are two different lure coursing tests, Junior Courser (JC), which tests a hound’s prey drive and Qualified Courser (QC) which tests a hound’s ability to compete with other hounds safely. To compete in AKC trials, hounds must be at least one years old and have passed the Qualified Courser Test.

Recently, the American Kennel Club has introduced the Coursing Ability Test (CATs) available to all breeds and mixed breeds. From Yorkies to Mastiffs, many dogs enjoy chasing. CATs have become a popular event in Southern California.

A Lure Coursing Event

Lure courses are usually between 500 and 1000 yards in length and are created by placing small pulleys around a field in a pattern designed to resemble the route prey might take when pursued by hounds. A loop of braided string is pulled around the pulleys by a wheel attached to a motor. The lure itself is usually a series of white plastic bags. An experienced lure operator can control the lure so as to simulate escaping game.

The hounds run the course twice, usually in groups of three. The hounds are running not only for fun and to keep their natural abilities alive, but also for titles. Experienced judges score them on a variety of parameters. Scores from both runs are added for a combined total. Hounds are awarded placements and earn points based on where they finished and the number of hounds they competed against.

In the US, there are two organizations that coordinate the hosting of sighthound lure coursing trials and certify judges. In order of years of experience in the sport they are the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) www.asfa.org and the American Kennel Club (AKC). www.akc.org

Each organization has slightly different running rules, scoring and criteria for granting titles. Competitive points earned in one organization do not carry over to the other group’s trials.

Elgible Breeds for Lure Coursing Trials

Purebred Afghan Hounds, Azawakhs*, Basenjis, Borzoi, Cirnechi dell’Etna, Greyhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Norrbottenspets*, Peruvian Inca Orchid*, Pharaoh Hounds, Portuguese Podengos*, Portuguese Podengo Pequenos, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds, Sloughis*, Thai Ridgebacks* and Whippets that are one year of age or older and have been registered with the American Kennel Club, the AKC Foundation Stock Service, an AKC recognized foreign registry or that have been granted an Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL/ILP) may be entered. FSS breeds are denoted with an asterisk.

Coursing Ability Test (CAT)

Look! It’s a bird, it’s a plane —No, it’s a Yorkie and it’s chasing a plastic bag!

The Coursing Ability Test is a fun event for your dog, fashioned after the sport of lure coursing. It’s available to all breeds, mixed breeds and purebreds with breed disqualifications. Dogs run alone in a large open area, chasing a white plastic bag as if they were pursuing a small varmint. It is a pass/fail, non-competitive test, in which dogs must run with enthusiasm. Dogs less than 12 inches tall and brachycephalic dogs run 300 yards. All other dogs run 600 yards. The AKC requires that dogs be checked for lameness prior to running.

Dogs earn “legs” towards various coursing titles. Three passes = Coursing Ability (CA); Ten total passes = Coursing Ability Advanced (CAA); Twenty-five total passes = Coursing Ability Excellent (CAX); fifty total passes = CAX2; a higher numbered title will be awarded for every additional twenty-five passes.

How to Thread a Slip Lead

A coursing slip lead has two rings with a lead attached on one side.

Place the collar around the hound’s neck with both rings at the top.

Push the lead through the ring on the side that the ring is attached and continue this loop across the hound’s neck and through the other ring.

Grab the loop with one hand and hold the remainder of the lead with your other hand.

To release the hound, let go of the looped side with that hand, continuing to hold the remainder of the lead with your other hand.