Lure coursing is a modern day “bloodless” copy of the original practice of “coursing” sighthounds. The sighthounds were bred specifically for sighting and running down game (coursing), as opposed to the scent hounds who would follow scents for miles until the game was caught up to, cornered, and held at bay.
Lure coursing attempts to somewhat “mimic” the idea of coursing. A course is set up in a large field (usually 5 acres or larger), using corner pulleys, string and a machine which pulls the string through all the pulleys in a set pattern so as to give the dogs the feeling of chasing game (i.e.. rabbit or hare) running away from a predator.
One to three dogs run (depending on the number of hounds entered) usually by breed, and are scored by 1 or 2 judges (number of judges depending on if you are coursing in the USA or Canada) and judged on 5 criteria: speed, follow, agility, endurance and enthusiasm. Hounds will run a preliminary course (a.m.) and a final course (p.m.), then scores are added together giving an overall finishing score. Dogs are put in order of highest scores to lowest scores to ascertain 1st/BOB, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and NBQ. (BOB=Best of Breed / NBQ=Next Best Qualifier or 5th). Sometimes there are ties for placements, in which case the ompetitors will either “run-off” or forfeit for the tie. If there are run-offs, these are done prior to any stake run-offs for BOB.
In Canada, if there are 24 dogs entered they will be divided into two stakes of 12 (ASFA rules differ.) The 1st place winners of each stake of hounds must run-off to get one BOB hound. Points are assigned to 1st thru 4th placements. A dog will earn a Canadian Field Champion title after achieving a total of 100 points including 1 (one) first placement win or 2 (two) second placement wins. Points earned at any trial are based on numbers of hounds (up to a maximum of 10 hounds) in the breed stake multiplied by the following numbers:
4 points per hound for 1st place to a maximum of 40 points.
3 points per hound for 2nd place to a maximum of 30 points.
2 points per hound for 3rd place to a maximum of 20 points.
1 point per hound for 4th place to a maximum of 10 points.
That’s basically it, in a nutshell! For more information regarding Lure Coursing in your area, check out the CKC website under Calendar of Events.
Let’s GET IT!!!
In Canada, Italian Greyhounds have been eligible to race under the rules of the Canadian Amateur Racing Association (CARA) since 1996. CARA meets can be either 200 or 400 yard Straight Race meets or 350 or 450 yard oval/uval meets. For more information on CARA racing, please visit the CARA web site.
Racing is a lot of fun for the dogs (and owners), and involves no angled turning (particularly no turns at all for the straight racing). Races often are run with a drag lure (very safe), and the lure usually will be a piece of fur along with a few plastic streamers and possibly a “jack-a-lure” otherwise known as a squawker. This “squawker” sounds off on it’s way down the track making a high pitched squeak, sounding similar to a rabbit.
Italian Greyhounds are also eligible to race in the U.S.A. under LGRA (Large Gazehound Racing Association). They hold 200 yard straight race meets. You can get more information on LGRA racing at the LGRA web site.
TRAINING YOUR ITALIAN GREYHOUND FOR RACING OR COURSING:
There is not a lot of actual training that needs to be done for racing or coursing, other than to hone your dog’s existing prey drive. The best way to do this is to start from puppyhood. Use a plastic bag (white) and maybe tie a piece of fur with the plastic bag, onto a strong string (nylon or polyester that is about the thickness of cotton yarn). The string should be about 5 or 6 feet long, and tied to an old fishing rod, lunge whip, piece of thin wood dowel or something similar. In an unobstructed area of your yard, get the puppy (or adult dog) to chase the lure as you drag it in jerking type motions (it should excite the dog). A dog with good prey drive will chase and grab at it, tearing and tugging at it. Play for a very short time, and at the height of the dog’s interest in the lure, take it away, end the game and put it away out of reach until the next day or time that you want to “play” (and NEVER scold the dog for trying to get the lure). Doing this a few times a week will really get the dog keen on this. Another thing you can do is to put a SPECIAL treat tied into a white plastic bag (ie a little bit of raw liver or meat, salmon or whatever the dog LOVES but does not get on a regular basis). Tie the bag same way to a string and stick or fishing pole, and tease the dog with it. Let him realize by smell that the treat is inside the bag. He will go crazy for it, and eventually rip open the bag to get the treat. Praise him lots and let him get his treat out. Then end the game. Do this once per every 3-5 times that you play “the lure game” with him. So he won’t be expecting when or if you will have the “stuffed treat bag”. This should get him very keen.
Once your puppy is about 7 or 8 months old, finished his height growth and of sound body, you can attend some practices. It is best to practice on the Straight track, and to start with, run only 1/4 to 1/2 of the track to practice. Once your puppy is 11 months old, and has run the full 200 yards very keenly, he may be ready to do his pre-qualifying tests. These tests require that the dog run 200 yards straight two times, along with 2 other dogs with 4 foul judges watching to make sure the qualifying dog(s) do not attempt to interfere with any of the other dogs, either playfully or aggressively. If the qualifying dog runs these two races cleanly and completely for the entire 200 yards, the club secretary will then issue the owner a signed Pre-certification Form.
Upon entering the dog in it’s first race meet (he must be 1 year of age or older to be entered), the owner will present the Host Club Race Secretary with that pre-cert form along with a signed fill-out entry form (either hand written or email entry form), and a photocopy of the dog’s CKC, AKC or FCI Registration Certificate. The dog can then race in his first meet, and will then be permanently registered to race with CARA thereafter.
Italian Greyhounds can and do race and lure course and are every bit as game to chase, every bit as athletic, as their larger counterparts. So if you think your Italian Greyhound has the drive, get out there and try it…you’ll both LOVE it!
Roberta Jamieson, Lepus Perm. Reg’d