The most important thing is for you and your dog(s) to have fun.
You have a sighthound and would like to get involved in coursing but are not sure where to begin. The first thing is to come out to a trial, watch other dogs run, talk to a few people and run a practice with your dog. Practice is held at the end of the trials, time and weather permitting.
YOU CAN PRACTISE A DOG OF ANY AGE from puppies to older dogs. Dogs under 1 year will not run the entire course. Young puppies run a small straight out into the field and back again. An older puppy can run a straight and a corner. Once the dog is 1 year or older, they can run the full course, depending on their interest and fitness level.
Your dog loves coursing and now you'd like to enter in the trials. If your dog is over 1 year of age they can be entered in the "singles" stake where he or she will run on their own. Each dog runs twice during the day, once in the morning (preliminaries) and once in the afternoon (finals).
If your dog has run in singles a few times and is still very keen and having fun, you can certify him or her.
Certification runs are held at the end of each trial. Your dog will have to run with another hound of the same or similar breed who is experienced in coursing. If your dog is approved by a Judge, it's time to enter your dog in the "open" stakes where he or she will run in the heats against 2 other dogs and compete with the other dogs of the same breed.
COMMONLY USED TERMS IN COURSING
Blankets are the racing jackets worn by the dogs. They come in 3 colours, pink, blue, yellow and must be free of adornments.
Bunny(ies) are the white plastic bags tied to the string that the dogs will chase around the field. (Also called the lure).
Certification is how your dog qualifies to compete against other dogs of its own breed or similar breed. Your dog run with another hound of the same or similar breed who is experienced in coursing. If your dog is approved by a Judge he/she can enter the official trials.
Huntmaster is the person who checks each dog at the start line and starts each heat. The huntmasteris in complete charge of all hounds and handlers on the field.
Judges score the hounds in each race. Each hound's score is based on Enthusiasm, Follow (how well they follow the lure), Speed, Agility, and Endurance.
Lure Operator is the person who operates the lure (usually a white plastic bag) around the field for the dogs.
Practice is held at the end of a trial and allows new dogs and puppies to try coursing. The length of the course is dependent on the age of the dog. For example, puppies only run a few feet and dogs over 1 year can run the full course. ALL BREEDS ARE WELCOME TO PRACTICE!
Premium List has the official entry forms and all the information needed for each trial, location, starting time, course designs, names of judges etc.
Roll Call is the time the hounds are examined to ensure they are fit enough to run in the trials. Each person has to arrive at the trial prior to roll call. NOTE: bitches in season or lame hounds will not be allowed to run in trials.
Slip Lead is the collar/lead used to release your dog at the start of the race.
Tally-Ho is what the huntmaster says to begin each heat. The owners of the dogs must not release their dogs before the "T" in Tally-ho.