Is an organization founded early in the 1970’s to create a sport that tests the natural skills of the coursing hounds. All sighthounds were bred to hunt, chase and kill their prey. An ASFA field trial replaces the live game with an artificial lure attached to a cord which is pulled along a random course through an open field by mechanical means. These hounds have been bred to chase and they are oblivious to (or good-naturedly ignore) the fact that the lure is only a white plastic bag.
ASFA field trials are held by ASFA recognized club. To be entered at an ASFA trial, a hound must be a purebred of one of the Sighthound breeds: Afghan Hound, Basenji, Borzoi, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, or Whippet. In recent years, Azawakhs, Chart Polski, Galgo Espanols, Italian Greyhounds, Magyar Agars, Peruvian Inca Orchids and Sloughi have been added to the list of eligible breeds. Single stakes, where the dog runs completely by themselves, are offered to train an inexperienced dog or allow dogs to run that have disqualifying faults or have been dismissed for interference.
Entries are sent to the host club several days before the trials and most clubs accept a “gate entry” for a higher fee by a specified time the morning of the trial. Hounds are entered in Open Stake, for dogs not yet reaching a title, Field Champion Stake, for dogs that have met the requirements of the title, and Veteran Stake, for dogs over a specific age.
At Roll Call all hounds are examined for disqualifications; lame hounds, bitches in season and dogs exhibiting breed disqualifications are excused and entries refunded. A random draw is then conducted to divide the hounds, by stake, into groups of two or three. Three is preferred. They are assigned a blanket color and course number and the preliminary courses begin. Dogs run two courses and their combined scored determines placement for the day. Judges mark their score sheets by color.
The course is laid out in an open field, simulating the way a rabbit would run. It generally starts out with a quick straight away, and then begins to make turns. The length of the course varies from 600 to over 1200 yards. The terrain can be anything from a flat polo field, to very hilly and challenging.
Coursing is a judged sport – it is not necessarily the dog that crosses the finish line first that wins the course. Five categories are used by the two judges to evaluate the performance of the coursing hounds. 100 points are possible on each run from each judge. The five categories and possible points are:
A dog can also be penalized for being released too early or for delaying the course, reducing their total score.
Coursing is a wonderful sport for the amateur enthusiast. It is very easy to train your hound and the coursing fancy is always willing to help someone new. Clubs have blankets and slip leads that can be borrowed by a new exhibitor and you have a chance to see your hound perform athletically.
For more information, rule books, history and listing of clubs, visit the American Sighthound Field Association website.