|coursing|

 

Coursing is only practiced during fall and winter to protect the hares during breeding season. It takes quite a number of resources for this event: vast, guarded hunting grounds that harbor a lot of wild hares, horses and personnel to oversee the match. The most important task is set aside for the referees, who do their job on horseback. The hunt can take place over a distance of 2 miles; the sight hounds run more than once a day in pairs. The match is not judged by its most tangible result, namely the death of the hare, it is determined by addition of the points that are awarded by the referee on the basis of 6 criteria: Speed, return of a stray dog that catches up his deficit and that succeeds to get ahead a lengths, wether or not the dog forces the hare to make a turn on a right angle and the killing or not killing of the hare. The real focus of the hunt with sight hounds is the rivalry between two dogs, not the killing of the pray. This sport is mainly practiced in Britain, some states in the U.S.A., Portugal and Spain.

The Galgo

Spanish Galgos are the only breed of dog that are capable of maintaining a constant and fast pace in a run that can last up to 5 minutes. The main characteristic of this Spanish race is its great endurance (a trade not present in the English variety).
The males are usually bigger and stronger than the females. These are smaller, lighter and more agile. In addition, they seem to be better hunters than most of the males (most of the galgos who have been champions of Spain were females).
. At the moment, and unfortunately for the race, some galgueros are crossing their galgos with dogs of English origin (quick greyhound) in search of a little more speed.

The Competition between Galgos of each region selects a dog champion who happens to compete at provincial level. Finally, each province selects two or three dogs for the national championship. Firstly, a drawing is made to match the dogs in each one of the rounds. In Caza (Spanish Galgo hunting) the dog that kills the hare does not nesecarily win. The judges designate a winner based upon the of the effort made by the galgos during the whole race. Thus, the dogs receive points according to the speed, the resistance, overtaking (when a dog overtakes another one, passing it), the tracking of the hare and the killing. The races, to be valid, must last a minimum of 55 seconds. The dogs can be disqualified if they behave in an irregular manner during the race. Thus, a Galgo that does not make a maximum effort to stay on the exact path of the hare and runs a shorter trajectory will receive penalty points and will not win. When this happens the Spanish say that the dog is "dirty"

The Release of the Galgos

Possibly this is one of the most anticipated and exciting moments for all the galgueros. The soltador carries a slide strap, which holds two dogs together. This strap holds an ingenious mechanism that releases the dogs simultaniously on the precise moment the soltador wishes it. That moment takes place when it has been observed that the conditions of race are exactly right. This happens when the medialiebres (the assistant referees, who are mounted) have verified that the direction of flight of the hare is correct and that its size is proper, that is to say, that the hare is not very young and small. The soltador initiates a small race in order to orient the dogs in the direction that the hare has taken. Before releasing the dogs, a little advantage is granted to the hare.

The hunting director is the one in charge of communication with the soltador, by means of a whistle, the precise moment that the release must take place.

Each dog wears a collar, either red or white.
At the end of the race the judges hold up a
handkerchief with the winning colour
 
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