Kaylee and I got to try out a new dog sport this weekend... lure coursing!
Lure coursing is a sport designed for sighthounds, but the AKC recently opened up a new event (the Coursing Ability Test - or CAT for short) for all breeds. Hounds pursue an artificial lure (no real bunnies are harmed!) that is pulled through a series of pulleys on a long line of string. In trials, sighthounds have longer courses than non-sighthounds.
I arrived at the field about 1pm on Saturday, which meant I had plenty of time to watch and learn before it was our time to course. I was immediately put to work learning how to perform the duties of huntmaster. I was warned that I may actually be huntmaster on Sunday (yikes!) so I had better pay attention. I am convinced they give this job a cool name because... well... they need to make it seem more awesome than it is. Because it is not an awesome job. It consists of a lot of repetitive yelling and waving arms around. Yick.
After hours of assisting with the trial and getting to handle some Ibizan hounds for practice, it was Kaylee's turn to course. The course was not shortened to CAT length, so she got to run the full distance with the full number of turns. At first she didn't know what was going on - and you can't blame her for that - but once she realized she was allowed to chase the lure... that's when it got interesting. She tore off after the lure like a bat out of hell, and stuck on it like her life depended on it.
By the time we were ready for our second run, Kaylee knew what to expect... and she was screaming for it. Even in the bitter cold rain, she ran after the lure just as well as her sighthound counterparts. I was astounded... Kaylee likes obedience and rally, tolerates conformation, but I think lure coursing is her one true love. I was also ticked pink to hear other handlers tell me that Kaylee was "very impressive." See, you don't need a sighthound to have fun coursing!
I came back early on Sunday, in case they needed my help. Luckily all I had to do was help run some of the Ibizans again. When it came time for the practice runs, Kaylee did great. Our last run of the weekend was a little hairy, mostly because she got ahead of the lure and started anticipating its path. Stop being so smart, smart dog!
All in all, we had a great time. I can't wait until we can find Coursing Ability Tests to enter, because I think this is going to be the start of something great!
Here is a video of Kaylee's first run on Sunday (click the link!) Photos are coming, but it'll be a few days.
UPDATE: Here are the photos that the very talented Rachel Ritland captured of Kaylee coursing!