In different post, we shared information about the Coursing Ability Test, or CAT, an introductory event fashioned after the sport of lure coursing. Popular with all breeds, the CAT is a non-competitive pass/fail event that dogs run one at a time. Lure coursing, itself, however, is limited to eligible breeds who are evaluated for speed, agility, follow, endurance, and overall ability as they chase an artificial lure criss-crossing an open field.
As far as we know, competing for AKC Lure Coursing titles came in 1998, but the history of the sport is far older. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the Duke of Norfolk established some eighteen rules for the sport of coursing with Greyhounds, rules that were largely accepted by coursing clubs and societies that eventually evolved. The rules served to offer consistency, as well as a spirit of competition to the sport, but it wasn’t until 1776 that the first official coursing meeting was held at the Swaffham Coursing Society started by Lord Orford and the Earl of Sefton, membership limited to twenty five people (mostly titled landowners). Lord Orford enmeshed himself in the sport and in the breeding of Greyhounds, and at one point, kept a kennel of over 100 dogs. It’s written that he was keenly interested in improving the breed, keeping pups until they either showed promise, or didn’t, and introducing new blood to “tweak” his lines.
As for the Earl of Sefton, it was on his estates that the Waterloo Cup was first run in 1836, and continued to be held until the Hunting Act 2004 made hare coursing events illegal in England and Wales. The last year of the Waterloo Cup was 2005.
Photo of “Spirit,” the #1 whippet and #1 sighthound AKC Lure Coursing for both 2009 and 2010, taken by friend and colleague, Steve Surfman with consent of the AKC