Lure Coursing is a humane sport which attempts to simulate the chasing of a rabbit (hare, jack-rabbit) by sighthounds but without the live prey. In lure coursing, the hounds chase an artificial lure which consists of 3 plastic bags tied to a continuous-loop line that is moved through a series of pulleys by a small motor across a very large field. A typical lure course is between 600 and 1000 yards long and must have a minimum number of turns in order to simulate the rabbit zigzagging in the chase. The purpose of non-competitive lure coursing tests is to offer sighthound breed owners a standardized gauge to measure their hounds' coursing instinct. The purpose of the competitive lure coursing trial programs are to preserve and develop the coursing skills inherent in the sighthounds and to demonstrate that they can perform the functions for which they were originally bred. All hounds must be a minimum of 1 year of age to be entered in a test or trial. Bitches in heat and lame dogs are prohibited from running.
At a trial competition, hounds of the same breed run in braces (2) or trios (3) wearing one of three colored blankets (yellow, pink or blue). Hounds may run alone if they are the only hound of that breed. The hounds are judged and given points based on several criteria like speed, endurance, enthusiasm, agility, and follow. "Follow" means the ability to follow the lure, not the other dogs. Judges can deduct points for the early release of a hound in a course or for a course delay. Judges may excuse a hound from competition for failing to run, being unfit, coursing another hound instead of the lure, hound or handler interference or excessive course delay. Hounds may be dismissed for interfering with another hound. Hounds may be disqualified for being the aggressor in a fight on the field.
All hounds who run cleanly, run a minimum of twice at trial. The first run is called the "preliminary" run and the second run is called the "final" run. The hounds initially run only against hounds of the same breed. Within each breed the hounds may be divided into 3 groups (or 3 stakes). The Open stake is composed of hounds that have not earned their Field Championship title. The Field Champion stake has only those hounds that have earned their Field Championship title. The Veteran stake is for those hounds greater than six years (except Irish Wolfhounds (5 years) and Whippets (7 years)) and these can be either non-field champions or field champions. The running order within each stake is determined by a random draw, and is not based on size or comparable ability of the hound. The hounds first compete within their stake (open, FCh or veteran) running the preliminary course and then the final course. Placements within each stake are determined by the hounds total score (preliminary + final run score). The hound with the highest score from each stake then runs the course against the winners of the other stakes within its breed. The hound who earns the highest score in this course is deemed the Best of Breed (BOB) winner. At some trials a Best in Field (BIF) may be offered. This is where the BOB winners may choose to run against the other BOB winners. This is the only course where hounds of different sighthound breeds may run against each other. Points toward Field Champion titles (or beyond) maybe earned by stake winners, BOB winners and sometimes BIF winners.
American Kennel Club (AKC) Lure Coursing During the preliminary and final run each hound is judged for overall ability (10), follow (10), speed (10), agility (10), and endurance (10) for a maximum score of 50 points for each run/course. AKC Tests The purpose of the test is to evaluate whether the hound has the coursing instinct. In the Junior Courser (JC) test the dog runs by itself and is required to run at least a 600 yard course with four turns. The hound must run twice under two different judges in order to earn this certification. Passing this test does not show how this hound compares with any other hound of its breed, only that it has the instinct. All dogs must pass this JC test in order to be able to run with other hounds under this registry.
AKC Trials In the lure coursing trials the hounds can earn a Field Championship (FC) title by accumulating 15 AKC competition points which must include two majors (3 to 5 point at one trial) and at least one point earned in competition with at least one hound of the same breed. The number of points depends on the quantity of competition.
Once a dog has earned an FC title, they may continue to compete in order to earn a Lure Courser Excellent title (LCX). The hound must accumulate an additional 45 Championship points at which time they receive the LCX title. If they wish to continue to compete, they can continue to accumulate Championship points in increments of 45 and earn additional LCX levels, i.e. LCX II, LCX III, LCX IV, etc.
In addition to earning Championship points, dogs may earn additional certifications based on the number of times the dog competes with other hounds. These certifications are NOT based on ability, but rather on the hounds ability to compete cleanly at trials. The Senior Courser (SC) Certification is earned with the hound competing at 4 trials. The Master Courser (MC) Certification is earned after the SC is earned and the hound has competed in an additional 25 trials. To earn these legs for the various certifications, the hound must run with at least one other hound at the trial and the hound must earn a score in both the preliminary and final runs of a trial.
A Dual Champion (DC) title 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.
American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) Lure Coursing During the preliminary and final run each hound receives a numerical score based on speed (25), agility (25), endurance (20), enthusiasm (15), and follow (15) for a maximum score of 100 points for each course. ASFA Certification In order to run at an ASFA trial, a hound must be "Certified" in order to compete in the open stake. To certify, a hound must run with another hound of the same breed or similar running style and be judged by an ASFA judge. The hound being certified must pursue the lure and run clean (not interfere with the other hound).
ASFA Trials Championship points are earned in all regular stakes - Open, Field Champion and Veteran and are awarded by ASFA based on the placement within each stake. First place hounds in each stake earns four times the number of hounds competing in that stake (max = 40 points/trial). Second place hounds earn three times the number of hounds competing in the stake (max=30 points/trial). Third place hounds earn two times the number of hounds competing in the stake (max = 20 points). Fourth place hounds earn points equal to the number of hounds competing in the stake (max = 10 points). No hound shall receive a placement or be awarded points if it does not score at least 50 percent of the total possible combined scores. Hounds which do not receive placements under this provision will nevertheless be considered as in competition for the purpose of awarding points to hounds which do place. Once non-Field Champion hound receives 100 points plus either two first placements or one first and two second placements, they earn a Field Champion title (FCh). A hound earns a Lure Courser of Merit title (LCM) each time it earns 300 points and four first placements.
Canadian Coursing 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.
There is no separate Field Champion stake at CKC Lure Coursing Trials. All hounds are entered in the Open stake. 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.
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.
Training for Coursing RECALL, RECALL, RECALL. This is the most important thing your hound must have BEFORE you attend your first event, NO EXCEPTIONS!!!! This is an issue of your hounds safety. Most coursing fields are not fenced and therefore a hound who does not return to its owner runs the risk of becoming injured if it were to wander from the general vicinity of the field.
Socialization: As with any activity you plan to do with your hound, proper socialization as a puppy is necessary. The hound must be comfortable with being with other hounds without showing any aggression.
Conditioning: Just like humans, couch potato hounds are more likely to hurt themselves by going out and vigorously exercising than one that gets regular exercise. If possible, let your hound have regular free running (in a safe fenced area, of course) as well as on-leash workouts to build up endurance and stamina. It's also a good idea to get him used to running on a variety of surfaces to prepare his pads for different conditions in lure coursing fields. If your hound has any health conditions, consult with your veterinarian before running him in a lure course. Instinct: You can test and develop your hound's chase instinct at home, even with a puppy. Take a white rag, plastic bag, or piece of rabbit fur, and tease them with it. As they start to show some interest in it, you may put it on a string or a lunge whip and drag it in front of them, encouraging them to follow it. Let them catch the lure as their reward for chasing, and always quit before your hound loses interest. It is also important to work with one dog at a time so that they can focus on the lure. If they doesn't show interest, you might add a 'squawker' (noisemaker used in racing) or some stinky treats to your lure to make it more enticing.