“Is that a kangaroo?” This is a question often heard as an Ibizan Hound bounces on its hind legs while walking to the line at a Lure Coursing Trial, one of the many Performance events Ibizan Hounds enjoy and excel at.
First, you may be wondering, what is lure coursing? More specifically, sighthound lure coursing? And when did Ibizan hounds first find their way into this incredible sport? Lure coursing has its origins in the 1970’s, when a group of California sighthound fanciers, led by Lyle Gillette, developed the sport as a safer way to test their dogs in open-field hunting. Previously, the group hunted jack rabbits. But the practice was dangerous. Barbed wire posed a real threat to dogs on the hunt.
Lure Coursing offered an alternative, more controlled setting that would recreate the physical demands of open-field hunting with less danger, allowing sighthound fanciers to continue testing the functional abilities of their dogs. They would use white bags as “bunnies” and lay out a course to simulate a course a rabbit may run when trying to escape the hounds.
In 1972 the California group formed the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) and invited other sighthound fanciers around the nation to join in. This sport and the organization behind it, became a runaway success. Although lure coursing began with only seven eligible sighthound breeds: Borzoi, Saluki, Irish wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound, Greyhound, Whippet and Afghan Hound- today, it has grown into a roster of 16 breeds, as well as provisional stakes for upcoming breeds to run.
In 1976, the Ibizan Hound Club of the United States (IHCUS) requested that the Ibizan Hound be eligible for lure coursing. The breed was accepted with no hesitation. In spring 1976, at Vale Vue Kennels in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Ibizan hounds participated in their first trial. There were two Ibizans entered, Phyllis Rowe’s “Tanah” and Dean Wright’s “Isna”. They ran a mixed stake with a greyhound in the running, but Tanah won the breed- and defeated the greyhound as well.
Later that year, Ibizan hounds had their first lure coursing field champion, Dean Wright’s “Eterna” (CH Sun King Eterna of Treybeau LCM), who later went on to be the first AKC conformation champion in the breed. In July 1991, AKC acknowledged the sport and added it as one of their performance events. And in that year, Ibizan hounds had their first AKC lure coursing field champion, as well, Judy Parker’s “Lizzie” (DC C-FCH Smotare’s Bramblewood Lizard LCM).
The first trial held where the Ibizan could participate was in the spring of 1976 at Vale Vue Kennels in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Today there are several organizations that hold lure coursing events-ASFA and AKC are two of the most well known. In these trials, the dogs are scored in five categories: enthusiasm/overall ability, follow, speed, agility and endurance. Each breed’s hunting style is also taken into consideration when scoring. You would not, for example, score an Ibizan hound the same way you might score a whippet, as they were bred to have very different hunting styles and techniques. The Ibizan hound was bred to hunt rabbit in a pack, they fan out and switch positions throughout a course, trying to outsmart the lure so they can catch it.
Most of the time, on the field you will see them guessing where it is going to go. Cutting across the field so they can catch it and not just following its tail. The whippet on the other hand was bred to chase a lure for sport. While they were also used as an independent hunter and considered the “poor mans greyhound”, they were bred to chase/follow. As a judge myself I expect a whippet to have excellent follow on the lure with speed and agility. I expect an Ibizan hound to have excellent agility and endurance, while still having follow, but more following with the eyes rather than following right behind the lure like a whippet.
Recently the Ibizan Hound has become a more popular performance sighthound breed- and their presence is growing in other areas, too. Lure coursing remains the Ibizan hound’s main performance event, but we are seeing a lot of growth in rally/obedience, agility, scent work and dock diving, with new stars emerging in the breed every year. Admittedly, Ibizans are not to be the most biddable breed, but their intelligence, drive and sheer athleticism makes them excellent performance candidates. If you have a great sense of humor, enjoy a challenge and have the patience to let your dog teach you how to teach them, Ibizan hounds may be the performance breed for you.
Ibizan Hound Dog Breed Magazine
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