AKC Rhodesian Ridgebacks Ethically Bred and Raised in our Home. Therapy and Show Dogs raised with Children.

         Lure Coursing or as my dogs call it " Bunnnniiieeees!"

Khoi in Pink

Have you ever had the chance to watch your hound run... flat out, free of collar and lead, eyes glowing in the chase? It is a spiritual experience.  Your heart is in your throat.  You simply wish you were able to keep up and run alongside.  I have never felt as free or as close to Heaven than watching my dogs course.

Coursing is an incredible sport. Opened to both Pet and show quality Rhodesians,  ( Unfortunately the only DQ that can keep your dog from trying for titles in coursing is Ridgelessness. ) Coursing clubs exist all over the country.  In a Nutshell,  there will be a course laid out on  fairly flat grass covered ground. The club will stake a series of pullies into the ground on a predetermined diagram. 600 to 700 +/- yards.  The dog will run initially by them selves. No collar or lead of any kind. After they have been check and certified okay for the run ( no signs of lameness , the girls are not in heat), they are taken to the start. The call to "Hold your Hounds" goes out as they bring the bunny around and get it in postition to began the next run. The Huntmaster will speak with you, Using a Slip collar, one that pulls free when you release, you will stand over your hound and await the call of "TallyHo!" Your heart will be pounding so loudly you worry you may not hear the call, your dog will shift and tremble with excitment.  At last you hear the call, pull cleanly on the release and off your dog breaks !  Racing hard he/she follow the bunny as it skips and hops about the course. With any luck your dog not only finishes but acquires the 2 runs needed for it's first Lure Coursing Title! A J.C.   "Junior Courser"   After obtaining the J.C.  You can begin the run for the S.C., ( Senior Courser Title), where your dog runs in a pack of 3,  often mixing the breeds. It is the Judge's job to determine how well your dog runs the course for only it's own breed.  So even though it may be running with an Afghan and Whippet like  Finn pictured at the bottom, he only has to run the course the way a Ridgeback would. There are more titles to be had in Coursing but as I said this is a simple nutshell glimpse into the sport.

Aside from travel  and entries the cost of Coursing is not as rough as many dog sports. Your dog will need a good slip collar/lead combo and water,  You may want to bring a chair, some shade, a cooler, (of course water) , towels or a cool coat in case your dog becomes over heated. Coursing is a year round sport most places.  The days can be long since no moe than 3 dogs can run at anytime.  Yet good clubs make the days fly by!  You make great new friends and can find mentors who will help you train and then help find meets.

There are at least  four registries  and a few types of  coursing, all of which offer Titles. AKC, ASFA, LGRA  and NOTRA . The first two are the Zigging and Zagging type of course. 

This is a sample of a course that would be used .Then you have the  Oval track and the Straight one.  This is not Dog Racing as seen at the professional tracks. The "Pro" approach of  owners, handlers and kennels of many , many dogs with folks placing bets and the horror of what will happen should a dog be injured or not win. This is a group of TRUE Fanciers who love the glory of the dog running for the love of running.  Owners handling their own dogs, bringing them in their cars and swapping stories as they wait their turns. No Slick Tracks with restaurants and betting windows. This is a cluster of cars, picnic lunches, folks sharing a thermos of coffee on cold days or the cooler on hot ones. Dogs are not kept in sterile rigs , but instead crashed between races on their blankeys , with their kennel mates. Stories are swapped, Photographers with lenses longer than a telescope hoping to catch the perfect stride, expression moment of Joy.   At the end of the day, a tired and wind burned owner and a tired Happy dog go home together with memories of a day spent away from computers, tvs and the office. Where they can dream together of the next chance to run flat out, eyes ablaze and feeling a freedom life today often robs them of. 

 I have to add warning however,  Not every dog will course. Some go out and may run a few feet, or even a few hundred, but they soon realize you are not along side and come loping back to you. Some , like our Dreamer ran beautifully ..until she flush a small covey of real birds and decided that was much more fun ! She galluped about the field happily chasing the birds from one spot to the next. We will be sure to try her again, she is unbelieveably fast ! Still other's are not able to focus on the bunny. For some, the fact it is an empty plastic bag says it all. They are not going to give chase. However , the dogs with deep and strong prey drive are so driven it is quickly and forever apparent. Most trials will allow you a test run for just a small donation. They will do every thing they can to get your dog interested and then keep them focused.  Some dogs may begin strong but after one or two of the required turns decide to enjoy the romp on thier own terms. There are always folks willing to help you get your hound back on your lead.

 While dogs must be 12 months to run the full course, they may begin testing on limited runs earlier. I have seen pups as young as 3 months scamper madly after the bunny for 50 or 80 feet with a cautious pulley operator popping the bag to begin the lessons that will both awaken the prey drive and teach them how to ffolow and safely chase the bunny. This is 4 Month old Khoi, Owned and Loved by Correy Burgess of Semper Fi Kennel  at a Coursing Trial. ( More pics of Khoi on The Hunting Page)... Behind him you can see the pulley engine which powers the Bunny, ( a plastic bag) tied to the line. The Huntmaster and Pulley operator will keep the Bunny just fast enough to stay ahead of the dogs. Many dogs will go wild at the whirring sound made by the line and machines. Baying and Barking pulling strongly, just begging to be allowed off lead and into the chase!   

Male or Female , you can not deny the excitement, focus and desire to chase that bunny!

This is "Mika",Kenya Mufasa Mika Re CGC HIC, TDI, HRQ1, HRQ2 Owned and loved By Corey Burgess of Semper Fi Kennel, Maryland, USA

 I asked some very experienced Lure Coursers to write a description that would give as many specifics as possible for any of the folks thinking about joining in the thrill of the Bunnees!!

 Lure Coursing: By Tom Gartland of  Ridgehaven Kennel
Imagine a big string tied into a circle.  A really, really big circle.  A circle big enough to wrap around 3 or 4 football fields laid end-to-end.  Then tie that big circular string around some pulleys and attach a motor in one spot so that you can pull the string around the pulleys continuously.  Now attach 3 white plastic bags to the string.  The bags should be close together, about 1 yard apart from each other. 
Okay, now run the motor and watch your dog act like a whole herd of squirrels just ran past your living room window.

We do conformation with our dogs for us, not them.
We do agility with our dogs for the both of us.
We do lure coursing with our dogs strictly for them.
- Unknown
Ever seen a border collie working the sheep?  It's intense.  Ever seen a terrier intent on catching that mole under the grass in its yard?  Equally intense.  Ever seen a retriever or a lab dive into a pond to fetch a duck (or chase a tennis ball)?  A dog that does the specific job it was bred to do *loves* life.  You can see it in their eyes.  They literally radiate 100% pure joy. 
Ridgebacks were bred to give chase.  Sight hound.  Spot the prey and chase it down, bay at it, harrass it, and tire it.   
Lure Coursing gives the dogs the opportunity to simulate the chase.  Except without the horses, guns, and monstrously large and dangerous lions.  Lucky us.   
The Lure Coursing Field
The field itself is typically several acres.  Depending on the region of the country you are in, it may be flat or with some hills.  Coursing on gently rolling hills can be challenging to some dogs.  Very steep hills and/or cliffs are avoided for safety reasons.  We want our dogs to have fun, and getting injured is definitely not fun.  The field may or may not be fenced and as such it is expected that each handler will already have trained their dog to have a very good recall.  By rules, the dogs may not wear any kind of collar while coursing, so again, a very good recall is essential. 
The "big string" can be laid out in a multitude of patterns so long as there are enough pulleys to create the pattern.  Figure-8, kidney bean, heart-shaped, etc, are all common.  Minimum course ("string") length will definitely exceed 600 yards, but it is not uncommon to see courses exceed 800, 900 or even 1000 yards.  For reference; 1 mile = 1760 yards, so courses are typically about 1/3rd of a mile to 1/2 mile long.  Despite this, the dogs will usually finish running the entire length in less than 2 minutes. 
Remember, this is essentially a 2-minute, all-out sprint.  Without question, your dog will get some serious exercise, even if they are already extremely fit. 
Quick Tournament Overview
All the dogs of a particular breed are split into "stakes". "Regular Stakes" are for most dogs.  "Specials Stakes", also called "Champions" are for the highly experienced dogs who have achieved Lure Coursing Champion qualifications.  "Veterans Stakes" are for older dogs.  Veterans that are also champions may be entered into either of those stakes at the choice of the owner. 
Dogs and bitches are not split up into their own groups like conformation.  Bitches in season are not allowed to run, and yes, each bitch is checked by tournament personnel on the day of the tournament to verify she is not in season. 
Preliminary Run (First Run)Final Run (Second Run) 
Scores are tallied after the Second Run.  Highest score from each "stake" then goes into a run-off for Best-of-Breed.  Ties within a particular stake must be settled by run-off before the Best-of-Breed can be determined. 
If there are multiple breeds present at the tournament, only those who won Best-of-Breed can opt to run for "Best-in-Field"; the Lure Coursing equivalent of "Best-in-Show"; albeit with a lot less fanfare and (usually) smaller prizes. 
The Organizations
There are 2 organizations in the US who track the hounds in Lure Coursing for titles;  1) AKC, and 2) ASFA. 
Each has different titles and point systems, but for the most part, how they run a tournament is pretty much the same.
Emma - UKC CH. Vyrtuous Emma Good Thief, FCH, SC, CGC.  The light wheaten is: Aria - Rajataru Solo Performance, SC.  Both owned by Candace Gartland of Ridgehaven kennel.

We live in: Louisa, Virginia - Ridgehaven kennel.  We are RRCUS members.
Written by Tom Gartland of Ridgehaven Kennel.
Emma - UKC CH. Vyrtuous Emma Good Thief, FCH, SC, CGC.  If you use the other photos I sent the light wheaten is: Aria - Rajataru Solo Performance, SC.  Both owned by Candace Gartland of Ridgehaven kennel.
 And here is Payton , Racing to the Home Stretch! With Ground eating strides he raced the course, never losing sight of the Bunny. Watch him FLY !!!! 



The following is an email from Payton's Adoring Mom, I think it explains how easy it is to go from simply couch potato pet to a fantastic family sport!

"Dear Bonita,
I couldn't resist the urge to respond with pride to show you the incredible pictures that my good friend Leslie Bell (also a ridgeback owner) took of my boy Payton when he got his JC this fall in Indiana.  Meet Luvakis Ekundu's Payton, JC (sire is Boomer and dam is Ekundu).  I have had him for 1 year and 1 day now as he was returned to the breeder, Teresa Holmes of Luvakis, by his original owners. I was looking around for a Ridgeback and met with Barbara Sawyer-Brown here in Chicago and she put me in touch with Teresa and I met and loved Payton.  He joined us on January 3 last year when was just over a year (born on 12/26/2007).   As a first time owner, I wasn't interested in showing and so he is neutered but I just found out that in addition to lure coursing we can participate in other performance events. We signed up for agility in December and we will also try for Rally-O this summer (training all winter).  I'm a little less confident about that since Payton isn't that well behaved (this enthusiasm he is showing running is how he acts when I let him out of his crate each day!! We're working on it).  I know this is too much information, but I just couldn't resist.  Thanks for your great website. I found a lot more information on yours than on many others. It was very helpful!

 I Honestly Believe Merci and Payton will become not simply closer but they will find he will become the well behaved dog she wants.  When you take a dog out, socialize and work them they only improve! Payton is a young dog who has had another owner.  As they begin the training for Rally-O he will learn skills that will help to make him welcomed anywhere! This is the type of New Owner we all pray for !  A lesson learned early on in dogs, A tired puppy is a good puppy!


 B.I.F. ( Best In Field)  This is it the best of the best runnning that day!  Denise Eberhard and Matt Coughlan's  wonderful Boy Finn ready to take the field.





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