Albuquerque Whippet Fanciers Association - Lure Coursing - By Elaine Summerhill
Lure coursing is a performance event started back in the early 70's by sighthound fanciers who coursed and hunted jackrabbits in the field, risking injury incurred from barb wire fences, gopher holes, and other hazards.  The fanciers invented lure coursing as a fun, safer, and more controlled way of testing the instinct and functional abilities of their hounds.  The basic premise is that the hounds chase plastic bags on a course laid out to simulate escaping game. 

Hounds are run in groups of three or less in either of three stakes, Open, Specials or Veterans.  They wear blankets of yellow, pink and/or blue to differentiate between them and are scored on 5 categories: speed, agility, endurance, follow, and overall ability.  There are two runs, a prelim and a final, and scores from both runs are added for a combined score.  If there are ties between the top placements, run-offs determine final placements and which dog advances to Best of Breed competition, a run between the winners of the various stakes.  BOB has the option to compete in Best in Field. 

In addition to running for fun, they are running for AKC titles.  Title points are awarded based on placement and the number of dogs entered in the various stakes.  BOB winner gets points based on the total number of dogs defeated.  Points are assigned as in Conformation showing.  To finish a field championship (FC), a dog needs 2 majors (3, 4, or 5 pts) under two different judges and a total of 15 points.

Formed in 1974, Albuquerque Whippet Fanciers Association in New Mexico is a small club. But, it is an active club and holds AKC lure coursing tests and trials among other activities, which include CGC tests, the occasional match, etc.

To view an online video of lure coursing, please check out this link:
Coursing Results - The real thing!
by Elaine Summerhill-October 31, 2004
Since I strongly believe that form follows function, I believe in testing my hounds to the full limit.  Therefore, this past weekend, I participated in an event, not recognized by the AKC, called open field coursing.  It is as the name implies, coursing (hunting) game, i.e., jackrabbits, out on the open prairie.  This is what sighthounds have been bred to do for centuries. It is testing them to their original purpose, not unlike herding dogs herding and poodles retrieving.

I believe that people might be interested in reading this, but I have refrained from posting it to the list because it may somehow offend others' sensibilities.  On reading this, people will understand why greyhounds that exceed the 'suggested' weight limits written in the standard really bug me.  It is probably my biggest peeve with the breed.

I know I'm going to get the names either misspelled or totally confused. Anyway, yesterday, TCC (The Coursing Conservancy) held the first open field hunt pretty much in my backyard, Moriarty, NM.  There were several hounds that came from far afield, Illinois & Arizona, for this one day hunt.  There was an entry of 20 hounds: 2 Greyhounds, 1 Galgo & the balance were Saluki.

Since I'll confuse  the Saluki, I'll refrain from commenting on them other than that Tito and Efrit were the high scoring novices and they finished in a 3-way tie for 3rd for the day with ? (don't remember).  Some of the other Saluki in attendance were: Summer, Beretta, Belle, Misk, Pharlap, Bandida, Kazi, and Malik.  Joe & Robert brought out some of Jinjit's yearling pups.

The Greyhounds were Ajax, Jib and a Spanish Greyhound (Galgo), Cai.  The three Greyhounds were paired with saluki in each of their runs.  Ajax put in a brilliant run as did Cai.  Unfortunately, Ajax suffered a rather nasty puncture wound and was scratched from finals.  Jib ran a total of 3 times as the first course was so short, the jack immediately headed for heavy cover and lost the dogs, that the judge called in a 'no course'.

Her second run, which was held after the other 6 prelim courses, to quote Robert, "was phenomenal."  The jack broke about 30' in front of the three dogs and headed dead away.  Jib was quickly out of the slip and running strongly.  The jack's ears were back and he was heading for the nearest hill, hoping to slow down the hounds.  Jib forced the first turn before the hare made the hill, still within eyesight of the gallery.  The jack turned two more times before making the hill, where he lined out on top of the ridge, still viewable without binoculars.  He was flattened and flying.  Jib was right behind him, pressing him.  The hare put in a turn that was more than 90 degrees, but less than a U-turn, hoping to throw off the hounds. Jib planted her haunches under her butt and slid through the turn like a quarter horse in a cloud of dust, loosing very little ground to the jack in the turn.  Yet after that turn, the jack found himself in worse company as the Saluki were now in the picture and working him, forcing turns. The jack had erred and he had turned back and across the Saluki path.  From this point on, the course soon went beyond my eyesight as the hare put in another turn and went over the hill and out onto the flats, into the realm of binoculars.  All three hounds eventually returned as a pack to their people.

Jib had 3 courses to rest and then went to the line for her final run.  In all honesty, she put in a decent run, but it was nothing like the first. She ran with the two Saluki in her course, rather than taking the lead and then the Saluki taking over.  At one point midway in the course, she put on a move to pass them to get to the jack, but the girl appeared to just run out of steam.  Still in all, a very nice run for a novice hound.

Jib put in a very credible performance for a novice, finishing just 1 point behind Tito & Efrit, the two high scoring novices, in 4th place.  I am most pleased, especially considering that she has a G4 to her credit. Next weekend, we're back to lure coursing.

1st - Cai
2nd - Pharlap
3rd - Tito and Efrit and ???
4th - Jib

Snapshots,  Part 1  (Hunting Jackrabbits - a personal account from November 2001)
by Elaine Summerhill

I firmly believe that there are times in one's life where brief moments of time seem to stand still. An image of that moment, a snapshot of perfect clarity, color and composition, is forever burned onto the silver nitride of one's brain to be viewed time and time again.

This past weekend, BJ & I participated in our first official open field coursing event. My brain carries one "snapshot" of a particular moment in time and one slow motion, moving picture of the events leading up to that snapshot.

BJ ran well. He ran well and ran with some high quality open field dogs (gh's owned & bred by Karen & Ramon Chavez and Karen's mom - Pat). We were running the Corralitos jacks - big, tough, fast blacktails. BJ did not embarrass himself, even tho' his inexperience showed.

On Saturday, we ran with TCC (The Coursing Conservancy) a nice group of people. We had fun and there weren't any injuries in the field - a good day coursing. We kicked up enough jacks to finish the prelims and called it a day as the field was getting too hot to safely run the dogs. BJ had drawn into the 6th course and when the hare broke cover, I believe that he never sighted until he was a long ways back and in a tail chase. He returned to me instead.

Sunday we ran with SWCC (Southwest Coursing Club) and it was a different day. Roll call was held at the Lazy E Cafe aka Brent's Cafe (they have excellent coffee!!!) and BJ drew into Course 5 with Elia (greyhound) and Nova (whippet).

Sunday was a pretty day, sun shining, cooler temperatures. The day dawned with a gently breeze. But, as the day progressed, the wind intensified to a point just strong enough to encourage the hares to seek cover down in the washes. The first course or two was run up on higher ground bordering the wash and pretty much came off without a hitch.

Since hares were few & far in between up topside, the huntmaster made the decision to sweep down into the wash that we'd been paralleling. Her thinking was, correctly if I might add, that the hares were hunkered down in the wash because of the wind. Course 3 went smoothly and then course 4 was run.

Course 4 was a great course. I don't remember the third dog in the course, but two hounds were Mocha (gh) and Ms. Bootsie (saluki). A nice runup followed by a take attempt and a turn. When the dust settled, Mocha was hot on the tail of the jack, really working it and forcing turns (boy can that bitch turn!), but, standing alone on the field favoring her left front was Ms. Bootsie. Bootsie had broken her foreleg just above the wrist. According to the owner, it had the appearances of being a clean, simple fracture. They splinted her leg on the field and were staying with her, awaiting the arrival of a vehicle to take her to the vet in Las Cruces. While they were waiting, we resumed the hunt.

For those of you who do not know, when BJ was a puppy, he broke his femur in the stifle joint. It has always been the subject of great concern to all who are associated with him. Even so, the boy has done everything I've ever asked him to do. Now, here I was, asking him to do one more more thing that would really test his desire and abilities as a greyhound, and, not to mention, the leg.

We began walking the field, hunting, searching for the elusive Corralitos jacks. The hunting dogs were Elia (NGA greyhound), Nova (whippet) and BJ (AKC greyhound). Thoughts ran rampant through my brain, "What if.... Suppose...." and finally, "Am I nuts?" I was absolutely, stone cold terrified that some nasty, nasty misfortune would befall my beloved companion and buddy. I was torn and tormented as I questioned my sanity and the wisdom of letting my dog run in this wash with holes in it large enough that they could swallow a man, let alone a racing dog.

Suddenly, the cry went up, "RABBIT!!!". At this point, time slowed down. As if in slow motion, I heard the long, drawn out cry, " ho!" as the hare swung in an arch to the left across the front of the hunting dogs. I remember seeing the big, strong jack as it went by, ears flat back and then looking down at BJ. His muscles were bunched for the all important first spring, the spring out of the slips, and he was more than eager to be off. Before I even thought about it, I had released him, he was out of the slips and on the hare, right along with Nova and Elia. The 3 hounds were all within a length of each other with Elia right on the hare's butt. It was at this moment, my "snapshot" imprinted itself.

The snapshot is one of BJ, his ears flat back and his mouth open for maximum air intake. I can see his teeth through the open mouth. He is balanced on his left foreleg, which is well back under his body, the right foreleg tucked well up in front of his chest just before it extends, and his powerful hindquarters coming up tight under his body just before he becomes airborn in the contracted phase of the DSG. The look of intensity...the look of power...the look of grace. I will always remember this moment. Anyway, the game was afoot and the course was on!

From that point forward, time resumed its normal speed. I was told that Elia, who was in the lead on the runup, tumbled but rolled to his feet and came up running. BJ & Nova were right behind him and BJ had a gut-wrenching, hard fall that ripped the blanket off of his back.

**Oh my gawd! I've broken my dog!!!** Came the unbidden thoughts as I clutched first Ramon C.'s arm and then my friend Robert's hand for support and security as the tears began to flow from my fear. Robert reassured me that BJ was alright and he was up & running - and running well - before I could bring myself to watch the remainder of the course.

He too came up running with the blanket tangled around his hind legs. He kicked off the blanket and resumed the chase, closing the gap between himself & Nova and Elia. The course cut left and then right. All too soon, the hounds and hare were out of sight. We watched and waited. The judge, Dutch Salmon, still had his glasses up. How far, how long would the course go? After some time, the judge lowered his glasses and the lookout for the dogs began.

The first dog back was Elia. He approached the gallery from the north. As all looked to the north for BJ & Nova, someone called out that he/she saw them up on the ridge, heading south. They were a good 800 yds out and headed away from the gallery. That is where the fun began. With whistles blowing, me calling (made me feel better), and people waving hats, leashes, whatever, his attention was finally caught and he began to head towards the gallery. The huntmistress (I think) encouraged me to go out and meet my dog and to tend to him as he had a long, hard course.

Karen & Pat told me it was an excellent course. I'm ashamed to say I missed most of it because of my fear.

I cannot express my appreciation enough to the fine people of SWCC and TCC for all their help and encouragement. Nothing I have ever encountered could have prepared me for my experiences this weekend. The OFC people are a fine group of dedicated dog people, who helped me when I needed help and took the time to both teach and encourage me. I will always be thankful to them. Before BJ & I packed up to leave, the question was asked, "Did this discourage you? Will you try again?"

No, I was not discouraged. And, yes. BJ ("my wussy AKC greyhound showdog") & I will be in the field again.

Now that I've purged my fears from my system, more things are resurfacing in my memory, including other snapshots of the day.


Mocha is a pretty, very feminine, red fawn greyhound bitch that is an incredible runner!  She goes, I'm guessing, about 58 - 60 pounds and is a little bit larger than her littermate (again guessing), Peanut.  But, as feminine as she is, that bitch is an assassin on jacks.

Mocha ran in Course 4 and this course left three more snapshots in my mind's eye.  The snapshots left their impressions throughout the playing of the movie left by the course.  The hounds, Ms. Boots, Mocha and the third dog, are slipped and accelerate off the line.  They are flying! The runup seems short to my little pea brain and then the hounds are forcing a turn.  As the hounds forced the jack to turn, Mocha seemed to slide through the turn on her hocks, not unlike a quarterhorse cutting cattle, and accelerated out of the dust cloud, leaving and creating more dust in her wake.  This is the first snapshot, her red fawn body going through the turn with a cloud of dust behind her.  Her slide through the turn, hind legs well under her, hocks well bent, body slightly arched from the tuck and her back parallel to
the ground.   Simply incredible!

Continuing the movie... Hollering over my shoulder at her owners, the comment came, "My God! Can that bitch turn!!!"  The sight of her demanded my
full attention and I could not take my eyes off of her.   She is simply
incredible!  But then, I heard  someone to my right say, "She's hurt...leg's broken..." At that time, my heart fell and the joy of watching Mocha faded as my eyes took in the scene of a hurt dog on the field with her owner being excused by the Huntmaster to go and attend to her dog.  The scene of the hurt saluki and the people attending her was the second snapshot of that course.

The third snapshot was another one of Mocha.  My attention drawn away from her, I did not see her finish the course and make the kill on the hare. The movie clip resumes with Mocha entering the periphery of the scene from the right, carrying the blacktail jack, its body dragging alongside her body.  The dead jack appeared to be half as long as Mocha!  It looked to be huge in comparison to this petite hound.  I can clearly see the grey-brown coloration of the hare against the red fawn of the greyhound.  Mocha has her head and neck arched against the weight of the hare.  She  approaches the people attending the saluki and drops the hare at the saluki's feet.  Then click!  The third snapshot, her dropping the hare in front of the saluki.