About the Lure Coursing FAQ
The first version of this FAQ, a 74 line (page and a half) document, originally prepared by Marcia Cavan with additional info from Carol Mount was posted as part of the AKC FAQ. Since its scope was broadened from AKC only details, it was moved out of the AKC FAQ into an independent FAQ.
However, the document quickly ballooned to 2000+ lines, making it difficult to read as a single document. This version returns to its “roots” as a FAQ for those who know little about the Lurecoursing. The Lurecoursing Homepage, with extensive and detailed information on this sport, is available at Bonnie Dalzells site under http://www.clark.net/pub/bdalzell/lureinfo.html.
What Is Lure Coursing?
Lure Coursing is a humane sport which attempts to imitate the coursing of the rabbit or hare by sighthounds but without the hare. The sighthounds chase an artificial lure, usually a white kitchen garbage bag, sometimes tanned rabbit skins, or fake fur strips.
To set up the “lure” coursing course a line composed of braided fishing line (usually 100-pound test ‘trolling’ line) is passed around a series of pulleys staked to the ground within a large field (at least 5 acres).
The lures (most clubs use at least two lures set 10 feet apart on the line – this reduces contention among the hounds at the end) are attached to the main line and the whole system is driven from a lure machine, a device constructed from a 1955 to 1962 Ford starter motor mounted in a frame.
This particular type of starter motor has a long drive shaft upon which is mounted a drive wheel that rather resembles two very sturdy pie plates welded back to back — the line runs in the groove between the plates.
Since the starter motor is DC the normal power source is provided by deep cycle 12-volt marine batteries, by 2 or 3 car batteries in parallel, or by jumper cables running to a running car or tractor. The lure machine must be capable of driving the lure at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Control of the lure is provided by using an on-off type thumb-switch (connected to the low-current side of the starter solenoid).
One such switch can be made out of a doorbell switch mounted in a grip made from a bicycle handlebar grip. It is important to have a lure machine configuration that provides enough speed to keep the lure safely in front of the fastest hounds. Lure machines used in terrier trials or made with AC washing machine motors lack the power to accelerate the lure quickly enough.
The competition within a breed consists of allowing the hounds to run in braces or trios (provided that there are two or more hounds per breed) within each stake in the breed, twice. Solitary breed entries usually run alone although, with permission of the handlers, solitary entries with similar running styles may be grouped to run together – but they will be scored separately by the judge(s).
For example, if there was only one Pharaoh Hound and only one Ibizan Hound entered at a trial the handlers might be given the option of having those two run together.
In order to individually identify the hounds for purposes of scoring they are clothed in a coursing blanket. The blanket colors are intense pink, yellow or cyan. The blanket color is assigned to the hounds by random draw.
Depending on the trial each hound receives scores from one or two judges for each run. The final placement within the stake is determined by adding together all of the hound’s scores and comparing that score with those of other hounds in that stake.
What are Sighthounds?
Sighthounds are dogs that traditionally were used to chase game by sight rather than track game. The animals are normally called “hounds”, a shortening of the term “sighthound” or “gazehound”. That is dogs that hunt by sight (course). In French, this type of dog is called “levier”, in German “Windhund” and in Russian “borzoi”.
Although the exact definition of sighthound is a topic that can generate an enormous controversy, in general, they are dogs that hunt by sight and are specialized for rapid running.
Currently, the breeds commonly accepted at North American lure coursing events are:
- Afghan Hounds
- Irish Wolfhounds
- Ibizan Hounds
- Pharoah Hounds
- Scottish Deerhounds
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
Organizations in North America
Who Registers Lure Coursing Sighthounds?
- The American Kennel Club
- The National Greyhound Association
- The Saluki Club of America
- The States Kennel Club
- The Canadian Kennel Club
Who Sponsors Lure Coursing Events?
In order of historical involvement in Lure Coursing:
- American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA)
- Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
- American Kennel Club (AKC)
In North America there are three organizations that coordinate the hosting of sighthound lure coursing trials. In order of years of experience in the sport they are the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) founded in May of 1972, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) which took over Canadian lure coursing from the Canadian Lure Coursing Association (CLCA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) which became active in lure coursing in September of 199 Each have slightly different running rules and criteria for granting titles.
Competitive points earned in one organization’s trials do not carry over to the other group’s trials. However, earned titles may affect eligibility for other group’s trials.
Who Puts On Trials?
Lure coursing trials are hosted by local clubs that are licensed by a sponsoring organization. At the end of the article there will be a listing of references for these clubs with contact addresses.
What Are the Differences Between ASFA and AKC Coursing Titles?
They are issued by different organizations. AKC titles are recorded by the American Kennel Club and are printed out on official AKC documents such as official pedigrees and on championship certificates and are published in the AKC Awards publication. ASFA titles are issued by the American Sighthound Field Association and are published in FAN (Field Advisor News).
They will not appear on official AKC issued pedigrees. This does not mean that the ASFA titles are in any way inferior. In fact, in my opinion and experience the LCM is the most difficult lure coursing title to earn. The AKC JC is the easiest, the SC next, the ASFA FCh next and the AKC FC is next.
Should I Participate Only In ASFA Or Only In AKC Coursing?
Don’t limit yourself and your hound’s chances to run. There are few enough lure coursing field trials as it is. The AKC titles go on your hound’s permanent AKC records but once you have the FC there is not much incentive to continue. Obtaining an ASFA LCM is the supreme test of both coursing interest and long term vigor in a lure coursing hound.
Attending a Lure Coursing Event
What should I bring?
You may want to leave your hound home the first time you go to watch a lure coursing field trial.
However, if you are hoping to practice the hound or wish to socialize it to this sort of event you should bring it. Remember, you must keep your hound under control at all times.
Things to bring:
- Water and a water dish for your hound
- A secure collar and leash for the hound
- Clothing for you and protection for your hound suitable for the potential variation in the weather for that area at that time of year (shade, if the weather is hot, is the most important.)
- A chair
- Lunch (it can be a very looong day)
Should I enter my hound in a trial without prior practice?
Due to recent rule changes in both ASFA and AKC coursing, you CANNOT enter an unpracticed hound.
Unpracticed hounds are quite likely to be excused or dismissed for interference.
Even worse they are likely to develop the habit of interference which they would not have developed had they been properly schooled into lure coursing.
How do I get my hound to a practice?
Once you locate one, drive there with your hound!. Seriously though – locating a lure coursing practice may be difficult. You have to locate some person or club who is setting up practice events. First, ask other sighthound owners if they know of any practices. Practices may be set up by:
- Private individuals
- Clubs during special practice sessions
- Clubs at demonstrations at dog shows and other public events
- Most clubs also attempt to run practices after their lure coursing trials
Since practices may be harder to find than actual competitive events, if you locate a practice session you should make it a fairly high priority to get your hound there.
What should I bring the first time I take my hound to a trial?
In addition to the items you would bring when you went to observe a field trial:
- Your hound’s registration information.
- Until you know that your hound will lure course consistently you do not need to buy a slip lead or coursing blankets. The clubs are required to have these on hand.
What is proper lure coursing etiquette?
Good trial sites are not easy to find and a lure coursing field trial does not generate very much income for the club so continued use of the trial site is dependent upon the goodwill of the property owner. Clean up after your hound and yourself!
Do not damage property! Park in designated areas and don’t go randomly exploring outbuildings, barns and other structures not being used by the members of the field trial. Do not harass any livestock that may be on the trial site. Be respectful of the property.
Remember that this is a lure coursing field trial. People often travel long distances to run their hounds and have paid to enter the competition. They are there to run their hounds and they may not have had much sleep. Most people at the trial will be happy to answer your questions but pick the time to approach them carefully.
Don’t walk up and start talking to a judge while the person is judging. Don’t try and question an exhibitor while they are actively involved in the competition. Do not come out on the course with your hound, observe from the sidelines. Keep your hound on a short leash. If your hound is very excited keep it far enough away so that it does not distract the competing hounds.
Don’t allow it to approach other competitors hounds and “get in their faces”. Hounds that are excited by the lure may be rather jumpy and even predatory. Don’t interfere with the hounds of another competitor. This includes not offering food or water to hounds that are in competition. hounds can become very ill if run on full stomachs.
Are these events appropriate places for young children?
Not really, unless you bring along a person to tend to the young children. If you are participating at a lure field trial you may be there all day and unsupervised children can quickly become bored. Almost all the people there are there to run their hounds. Many of the hounds come from childless homes and are not socialized on children.
The trial sites are frequently on private property which lacks play facilities for children and may contain hazards to unsupervised children. At least one coursing club that I know of is required by the insurance company of the landowner of their trial site to ban children under 12 from the trial site. This was the result of damages sustained to a swimming pool by unsupervised children at a lure coursing trial.
It is especially important to be careful with very young children around large powerful dogs. Don’t wear your baby in one of those “on the parent carriers” while trying to control an excited dog that is powerful enough to pull or knock you over. Remember an 80-pound hound running at 35 miles an hour packs a powerful punch should it run into you or a child by accident.
Are these events appropriate places for unentered dogs?
The unentered dogs cannot be allowed to run loose during the trial. Allowing small fluffy dogs that resemble lures to run loose on the coursing field is inadvisable. Hounds that wish to run but are not allowed to run may be quite frustrated.
It is important to always have adequate control over dogs that are not actually participating in the course in progress. There is a fine for having a loose dog interfere with a course in progress. Novices with retired racing greyhounds frequently have to pay this fine as the hounds suddenly show much more excitement than the owner has ever seen up until that time (that is they go berserk with happiness and excitement).
Sighthounds have thick muscular necks and slender heads and can easily and unexpectedly slip a buckle collar when they become excited at the sight of the moving lure with other hounds in pursuit. For this reason, you should have a martingale or choke collar for restraint of the hound at the trial site.
It is relatively common for dogs brought to the trial site and left loose in a car to become excited at the sight and sound of the lure and destroy part of the car’s interior. Rear view mirrors and upholstery are favorite targets. If the windows are left partially rolled down the dog may injure itself as it tries to get out through the window. Crating or tethering the dog with a tie out that it cannot chew through prevents these problems. Obviously no one should leave a dog alone in an unshaded car in hot weather.
How Long Do Lure Coursing Trials Last?
From roll call to the completion of the trial. Be prepared for a long day, especially in bad weather. Bring plenty of food and water. Bring warm clothing and wet weather gear. In hot weather bring shade.
A club can usually complete an all breed trial of 30 hounds in 5 hours. I have seen 30 hound specialty trials (one breed) be run in 3 hours. However trials with small entries are often run at a leisurely pace and may take until dusk, while trials with large entries will be pushed along by the certain knowledge that they must be completed before dusk. Either way it adds up to a looong day.
What Sort of Weather Is Encountered at Lure Coursing Trials?
All sorts. Since trials are scheduled events they are canceled only in the case of extreme weather conditions – tornados, hurricanes, blizzards. I’m not kidding! Last winter I was scheduled to judge at a trial in New Jersey in early March. A blizzard came up the day before.
It was not until 7 PM the night before the trial that it was decided to cancel the trial. Not because all the roads were closed (they were) but because with 24 inches of ice and snow on the coursing field it seemed that it would be difficult to set up a safe course.
Lure Coursing Equipment
What are lure coursing blankets?
Lure coursing blankets are the means by which the different hounds in a course are identified by the judge. They are light in weight and designed to be non-restrictive to the galloping hound. They should be made of a double stretch material and you need one in each of these colors:
- high recognition yellow (bright yellow or “green yellow”)
- high recognition pink (hot pink).
- high recognition blue (eye shattering cyan).
What is a lure coursing slip lead?
A slip lead is a specialized collar and leash combination that allows the handler to rapidly release an excited hound without breaking a finger or damaging the hound. The best leads have a broad collar that is several inches smaller than the hound’s neck with relatively heavy 3 inch brazed metal rings on each end of the collar.
The leash portion is strung through the metal rings in such a way as to hold the hound until one end of the leash is released. Then the hound is free.
American Sighthound Field Association
What are ASFA Coursing Trials?
These are lure coursing trials sponsored by the American Sighthound Field Association and held in accordance with ASFA rules and regulations.
The hounds are run in competition under ASFA running rules and regulations.
What hounds can participate in ASFA trials?
The ASFA’s trials are open to purebred:
- Afghan Hounds
- Ibizan Hounds
- Irish Wolfhounds
- Pharaoh Hounds
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Scottish Deerhounds an
The hounds must be at least one year old or older on the day of the trial, and be individually registered with:
- The American Kennel Club [AKC]
- The National Greyhound Association [NGA]
- an AKC-recognized foreign registry (this includes running Borzoi on their Russian reg. numbers.
- possess a Critique Case number [CC] from the Saluki Club of American [SCOA], for desert-bred Salukis.
In the near future, ASFA is going to require one-time proof of registry/ownership according to new directives.
An exciting change being pioneered by ASFA is the future formation of a “Miscellaneous” class or stake, for other Sighthound breeds recognized by the FCI [Federation Cynologique Internationale), a worldwide registry organization. This would allow breeds such as the Azawak, Chart Polski, Sloughi and others to compete.
While titles would not be gained directly from ASFA, American parent clubs of these breeds may wish to recognize the accomplishments of these hounds within their registry body.
What are the ASFA stakes?
Note: Not all trials will offer all of these stakes. Optional stakes are designated with an *.
- Singles * (Hound runs by itself – no points are awarded towards a title – can’t run inBOB or BIF.)
- Open (Hounds who have not earned the ASFA FCh)
- Field Champion (Hounds who have earned the ASFA FCh)
- Veteran * (In most sighthound breeds, hounds over 6 years old (5 for Irish Wolfhounds). Veteran Stake entries may not be entered in any other regular stake at the same trial. 1st placements from the Veteran Stake do not count toward a FCh title. If veteran wins BOB or BIF over competition — that counts as a first toward FCh)
- Best in Field (BIF) * (Open to the BOB winners of the day.)
- Breeder * ( competition in this and in Kennel is determined by scoring out of Open, FCh or veteran).
- Kennel *
If there are 20 or more hounds in a given stake in a given breed, that stake will be split and multiple placements will be awarded in that stake. Stakes are split so as to produce as many sets of 10 as possible. For example an entry of 30 open whippets would be split into 3 sets of Open whippets with 10 hounds per stake rather than two Open whippet stakes of 15 hounds.
Best of Breed must always be determined by a single run consisting of a brace or trio, however, so if there were 4 stakes of Open whippets BOB would be determined by running the best of those 4 winners against the top winner from the Field Champion stake.
What are the ASFA titles?
- Field Champion (FCh)
- Competes against other hounds of the same breed in the “Open stake”. To earn the title the hound must accumulate 100 breed points and earn 2 first placements or 1 first and 2 second placements over competition that receives qualifying scores or that is dismissed.
- A first over a non-qualifying scoring hound doesn’t count but if he attacks your hound and is dismissed then the hound counts. The maximum score is 100 points per judge. To achieve a qualifying score the hound must receive at least half this total. These judges-score points are different from the breed points mentioned above.
- Best In Field (BIF) determined by running against the winner of another breed will count as a first if the hound winning BIF was the only entry in its breed. (For example, if a single Saluki is entered, but wins BIF by defeating the best of 17 Whippets, it is credited with a “first over competition”.)
- Lure Courser of Merit (LCM)
- Competes against other hounds of the same breed in the “Field Champion stake”. To earn the title the hound must accumulate 300 breed points and earn 4 first placements. Each first placement must be over at least one competitor earning a qualifying score.
- The hound may earn multiple LCM’s. Each requires 4 firsts out of the Field Champion stake and an additional 300 points. At this time the LCM is the most difficult lure coursing title to earn.
How are the ASFA hounds scored?
There are 5 categories:
- Speed (25)
- Agility (25)
- Endurance (20
- Enthusiasm (15)
- Follow (15)
The judge(s) score the hound in each category producing a score between 0 and 100. Qualifying scores are 50% or above. Most judges score qualifying runs somewhere between 60 and 80 points. On a given day the exact numeric score is less important than the hound’s score relative to the other hounds.
Notice that in ASFA coursing Speed and Agility is considered the most important categories. This reflects the importance of open field (i.e. live game) coursing experience in the minds of the founders of ASFA – if the hound is after a hare exactness of following is worthless if the quarry outruns the hound.
Live quarry does not slow down so that the slow hounds can stay sighted. Only lures adjust themselves to the speed of the slower courses.
What are the ASFA awards?
In each stake within a breed (Open, Field Champion and Veteran) 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and NBQ (Next Best Qualifying) placements are awarded. The scores from the judge(s) are added up for both the preliminary and final runs. The hounds are awarded placements within their stake based on the summed scores. Points towards the titles (ASFA championship points) are awarded as follows:
- 1st place = 4 times the number of dogs in the stake to a maximum of 40 points.
- 2nd place = 3 times the number of dogs in the stake to a maximum of 30 points.
- 3rd place = 2 times the number of dogs in the stake to a maximum of 20 points.
- 4th place = 1 times the number of dogs in the stake to a maximum of 10 points.
- NBQ – no points.
The winners of these stakes will then compete in a runoff for Best of Breed (BOB). The BOB winner will receive points equivalent to the greatest number earned by any hound in the breed. For example if there were 5 hounds in the Open stake and 3 hounds in the Field Champion stake and the Field Champion won the BOB run off it would receive 4X5 = 20 points rather than 4X3 = 12 points towards its Lure Courser of Merit title.
The winner of the Open stake would still receive 20 points towards its ASFA Field Champion title.
The additional points that may be awarded in BOB are only awarded if the BOB is earned by a run off. A hound earning BOB over the winner of a larger stake by forfeit would not earn additional championship points.
American Kennel Club
What Are AKC Lure Coursing Trials?
These are lure coursing trials sponsored by the American Kennel Club and held in accordance with AKC Lure Coursing rules and regulations.
In September of 1991 the AKC began its own program of Lure Coursing as a sport under the guidance of Dean Wright, a long time promoter of ASFA lure coursing events.
What hounds can participate?
As of 1994 The AKC breeds that can participate in AKC Lure Coursing included 11 recognized sighthound breeds: Afghans, Basenjis, Borzoi, Ibizan Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Greyhounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Whippets.
The AKC’s policy is that a sighthound breed is a sighthound breed if the breed’s parent club considers the breed to be a sighthound. This has, as you can imagine, led to some really intense rhetoric on the definition of a sighthound. We will wisely avoid this controversial matter of definition in this FAQ.
What are the AKC stakes?
Regular stakes are Open and Specials. Open is open to all hounds who have earned an AKC Junior Courser or other qualifying performance titles.
What are the AKC titles?
- Junior Courser (JC)
- The hound must run in 2 events under 2 different judges or judging panels. The hound will run alone on a course of at least 600 yards that has at least 4 turns. The hound must run the full course with enthusiasm, not stopping to visit with spectators or take a potty break during its run. The judges award a “pass” or “fail” not a numeric score.
- Senior Courser (SC)
- After January 1, 1994 the SC title is awarded based upon the hound’s performance in 4 AKC field trials. Prior to that date the title was awarded based upon performance in 2 AKC field trials. To earn an SC the hound must receive a qualifying score in 4 AKC field trials under different judging panels.
- Field Champion (FC)
- This title proceeds the hound’s name. This title is awarded once the hound has accumulated 15 AKC Lure Coursing Points. There must be at least 2 firsts valued at 3 points or more issued by two different judges or judging panels.
As of Jan 1, 1994 the AKC point scale is as follows:
Points for first place 5 4 3 2 1 ------------------------------------------------------------ number of hounds in competition Whippets 15 11 8 5 2 Borzoi, Rhodesians 10 8 5 3 2 Balance of sighthound breeds 6 5 4 3 2
- When first place earns 5 second place earns 3, third place earns
- When first place earns 4 second place earns 2, third place earns
- When first place earns 3 second place earns
This will certainly be revised in the future, but not in 1995
How are the hounds scored?
The hounds are scored on a scale of 0 to 50. There are 5 categories each of equal value:
- Speed (10)
- Agility (10)
- Endurance (10)
- Overall Ability (10)
- Follow (10)
The judge(s) score the hound in each category producing a score between 0 and 50. Qualifying is 25 or above. Most judges score qualifying runs somewhere between 30 and 40 points. On a given day the exact numeric score is less important than the hound’s score relative to the other hounds.
What are the AKC awards?
Dual Champion (DC) is awarded to a sighthound that has earned both an AKC Field Champion title and an AKC conformation Championship title. This title also precedes the hound’s name and replaces either Ch or FC.
Canadian Kennel Club
What hounds can participate?
AKC registered hounds may be entered without having CKC registration provided that an additional “listing” fee is paid. The titles will not be awarded until the CKC registration is obtained on the hounds.
What are the CKC stakes?
There is no separate Field Champion stake at CKC Lure Coursing Trials. All hounds are entered in the Open stake.
What are the CKC titles?
- Field Champion (FCh)
- Field Champion Excellent (FChX)
To earn a Canadian FCh the hound earns 100 points with two firsts over competition. The competition includes existing Canadian Field Champions. To earn a FChx the hound earns a TOTAL of 300 points and 6 firsts. It is not eligible to earn the FChX until after the FCh requirements are met but first placements earned prior to the FCh carry over towards the FChX. If a hound finishes its FCh with 6 firsts then it only needs to earn an additional 200 points to earn the FChX. The Canadian FCh is more difficult to earn than the ASFA FCh but the FChX is a slightly easier to earn than the ASFA LCM.
How are the CKC hounds scored?
The scoring system, categories and points earned towards titles are similar to the 100 point ASFA model. Canadian Field Trial secretaries usually require some proof that the hound will run “clean” in competition prior to accepting an entry.
What are the CKC awards?
First place through 4th earn championship points as with ASFA. No points are awarded for 5th (NBQ).