Lure coursing is a fun sport for all the sighthound breeds, including Whippets. It is designed to simulate a rabbit or hare hunt in an open field without the actual killing of live game. An artificial lure (actually white plastic trash bags!) on a strong line is pulled through a series of pulleys by a lure machine. The lure operator is able to control the speed of the lure so that it is always kept in front of the coursing hounds. Hounds run in groups of two or three and are distinguished from each other by the brightly colored blankets they wear. Most course plans call for hounds to run distances of 600 to 1000 yards, including several tight turns and long straightaways. Judges watch the course and score the hounds for their overall ability, speed, agility, endurance, enthusiasm, and willingness to closely follow the path of the lure throughout the course.
Whippets on the Coursing Field
photo by Steve Surfman
Any hound who shows aggression to his running mates, or who physically interferes with them during the course, is disqualified from further running. All hounds run at least twice, and their cumulative scores determine where they place relative to each other. At the end of the trial, ribbons and prizes are awarded. Some placements result in points toward field championships.
On the field chasing the lure
Two organizations sponsor lure coursing trials and award titles. The American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) awards to its successful hounds, the Field Championship (F.Ch.), and to its most elite coursers, the Lure Courser of Merit (LCM). The American Kennel Club awards the Junior Courser title (JC) to hounds who demonstrate a desire to chase the lure, the Senior Courser title (SC) to hounds who have run four times in competition without being disqualified, the Master Courser (MC) to those who have qualified 25 times, and the AKC Field Championship (F.Ch.) to those who are top competitors in coursing.
Attacking the lure at the finish line
Lure Coursing is available in most regions of the continental USA. Check the list of AKC Lure Coursing Clubs and the ASFA Home Page to see if one is near you.
Top lure coursing Whippets have come from almost every type of breeding program, and many field-titled dogs were purchased as "pet-quality" or obtained through AWC Rescue. Because the dogs are scored in several categories, it is possible for a Whippet who is not extremely fast, but who turns well and shows good endurance at the end of the course to receive a higher score than a very fast Whippet who turns poorly. Good conditioning and a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the Whippet are key to success in lure coursing. Spayed and neutered hounds are welcome at lure trials, but Whippets are inspected for other breed disqualifying faults (see Breed Standard).
Judges marking their score sheets at the trial