Lure Coursing and The Elusive Mr Biggles

A little while back we went to check out a lure coursing session held at Rumbling Bridge – not far from Beagle Racing. Since racing was on we only got  to watch a couple of runs and weren’t able to take part. This week however racing was off so a little after 10am we parked up in the large, (mostly) fenced field used for the coursing runs.

The course is rectangular and about 500m long. Dogs mostly race in pairs and though the running order is decided by drawing lots, the organizers take care to match entrants by size. If you particularly want your dogs to run together they’re happy to oblige, and consequently Beanie and Biggles got their first run together:

As you can see, Beanie quickly closed in on the lure (a piece of deer skin – appropriate since the coursing is run primarily for Scottish Deerhounds). As she tried to grab it she took a tumble, letting Biggles grab the lead. She quickly regained her composure, hit the gas and charged past her little brother. It was a terrific first run – they both finished, and we got both of them back on lead without any difficulty. Beanie did win however so she was through to the next round, while poor Biggles was out.

As we waited for Beanie’s next race, we chilled out on the grass and watched the other dogs do their thing.

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Nothing passes the time..

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..like chewing an empty water bottle

Naturally the Deerhounds were well represented. They’re tall, lanky dogs and their long, graceful strides hide the remarkable speed they can reach at full tilt.

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This old fellow’s running days are well behind him, but I think he still enjoyed watching the proceedings

There were plenty of other breeds present though: poodles, lurchers, whippets, bassets and of course Beagles.

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A Basset and a Beagle cross (Bella) romp after the lure

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Half way round the course the basset ran out of steam, but Bella bravely soldiered on to victory – all the more remarkable given her short little legs!

When Beanie’s second race came around she was up against little Bella. Bella’s owner didn’t feel she was ready for another full lap of the course, so she just ran the home straight. The lack of competition at the start didn’t seem to slow Beanie down at all, and as she turned the final corner she closed in on the lure, grabbed it and did her own little victory parade:

Bella also got a little taste of the lure once Beanie  had finished with it, and with another victory behind her our little girl was again through to the next round.

Her next race was against a lurcher who was mostly deerhound and 100% speed demon. Beanie has raced against whippets and lurchers before, but none of them managed to get away from her as quickly as this fellow. Not one to give up without a fight, Beanie took a more “direct” route to the lure (also known as cheating) and this enabled her to finish a more respectable distance behind her adversary.

At this point both our Beagles were out of the contest, but after the final had been run the track was thrown open to anyone who wanted another go. Since Biggles had only raced once we put him forward and he got to run against a trio of whippets. Things started off quite well, but predictably the whippets soon opened up a big lead. The lure was out of sight by now so rather than continue racing he stopped to examine a pulley at one corner of the track.

If we’d have called him right when he stopped, I’m pretty sure he’d have come running to us. However we hesitated, and Biggles made up his own mind about what to do next. He started running again and for a moment it looked like he was going to follow the scent of the whippets and complete the race. Then abruptly he sprinted towards the unfenced entrance to the field and his cheeky little white bottom turned the corner and disappeared from sight. He was too far away for our emergency recall so we gave chase, but by the time we exited the field there was no sign of him.

The coursing field is surrounded by countryside – acres and acres of it, with enough tall grass to hide a little Beagle. Fortunately we’d had the presence of mind to fit Biggles’ Retrieva tracking collar before his race, so I took out my mobile phone and requested his location. Meanwhile, one of the coursing organizers jumped on his motorbike and joined the search for our boy. Two minutes went by without any sighting, then I got the first location back from his collar. It was close – really close – to my location. I headed towards the blue blob that represented Biggles and spotted him already on his way back to us. It turned out his great escape hadn’t been so great after all – he’d gone 100 yards out of the field, turned a couple of corners, had a sniff and started on the return journey. Still, this little upset taught us two things:
– Never let Biggles think for himself. He’s not good at it.
– The tracking collars we got for our two could be very handy some day.

Click here for more photos from today’s lure coursing.

You can find out more about Sue & Kevin Rose’s Lure Coursing events here:
http://www.scottish-deerhound.com/lure-coursing-dates-in-scotland-2009

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