Coursing in Period

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From @http://www.gulfcoastgreyhounds.org/hist-mid-ren.html "Coursing races, with dogs chasing live rabbits, became popular during the sixteenth century. Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) had Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, draw up rules judging competitive coursing. These rules established such things as the hare's head start and the ways in which the two hounds' speed, agility and concentration would be judged against one another. Winning was not neccesarily dependent on catching the hare (although this did earn a high score). Often the hare escaped."

See "The Laws of the Leash or coursing, as they were commanded, allowed, and subscribed by Thomas late Duke of Norfolk, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth." Most likely, the rules were written between 1558 and 1569, since Elizabeth took the throne in 1558 and in 1569, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (the credited writer of the rules) was imprisoned for treason. [[1]]

From @http://www.gulfcoastgreyhounds.org/course-rules.html " Rules of Renaissance Coursing " "The rules as transcribed from Country Contentment's, published in 1638 by Gervase Markham. Subheads have been added to each rule for easier reference and have modernized and standardized the spelling of words. Otherwise, the text under "rule" is verbatim from the eighth edition of Markham's book. The "interpretation" is a translation of what the rule means." These rules are apparently slightly different from the rules in the above website.

Delabere Pritchett Blaine explains in An encyclopaedia of rural sports: or a complete account, historical practical, and descriptive, of hunting, shooting, fishing, racing, and other field sports and athletic amusements of the present day, published 1870, pp 590-591, that there were two version of Norfolk's rules, an earlier version and a later revised and improved version, but most people did not realize there were two version and became confused. He discusses the apparent internal contradictions in the rules at some length. (Ebook free on Google books)

< Gervase, 1638 according to Gulf Coast Greyhounds (mostly the early version according to Blaine with a couple of later additions) < Norfolk, c. 1560s (basically the later version of Norfolk according to Blaine) < Interpretation - modified from Gulf Coast Greyhounds
< 1. The Fewterer
Rule: First therefore it was ordered, that he which was chosen Fewterer, or letter-loose of the Greyhounds, should receive the Greyhounds match to run together into his Leash, as soon as he came into the field, and to follow next to the Hare-finder till he came unto the former and no horsemen nor Footman, on pain of disgrace, to go before them, or on either side, but directly behind, the space of forty yards or thereabouts. < That he that is chosen Fewterer, or that lets loose the Greyhounds, shall receive the Greyhounds matched to run together, into his Leash as soon as he comes into the field, and follow next to the hare-finder, or he who is to start the hare until he come under form; and no horseman of footman is to go before, or on any side, but directly behind, for the space of about forty yards. < The Fewterer is given a matched pair of greyhounds to take by the leash and follows at a distance the person who finds and roots out the hare. Anyone on horseback or foot who doesn't stay about 40 yards behind the dogs will be publicly disgraced.
< 2. Number of Greyhounds
Rule: That not above one brace of Greyhounds do course a hare at one instant. < You ought not to course a hare with more than a brace of Greyhounds. < A maximum of two greyhounds may race.
< 3. Stirring up the HareRule: That the hare-finder should give the hare three so-how's before he put her from her Leat, to make the Greyhounds gaze and attend her rising. < The hare-finder ought to give the hare three so-ho's before he puts her from her form or seat, that the dogs may gaze about and attend her starting. < The hare-finder must yell "SO-HO" three times to alert everyone that a hare is about to be driven from its hiding spot.
< 4. Distance Between Hare and Greyhounds
Rule: That the Fewterer shall give the hare twelve score Law, ere he loose the Greyhounds, except it be in danger of losing sight. < Twelve score yards law ought to be given before the dogs are loosed, unless there be danger of losing her. < The Fewterer must give the hare a certain head start before letting loose the greyhounds, unless the terrain is such that the hounds would lose sight of the hare.
< 5. Winning on the First Turn
Rule: That dog which giveth the first turn, if after the turn be given, there be neither coat, slip, nor wrench extraordinary, then he which gave the first turn shall be held to win the wager. < The dog that gives the first turn, if after that there be neither cote, slip, nor wrench, wins the wager. < The dog that forces the hare to turn first (close enough to the hare to force it to change direction) will win the course and the wager that was laid down on the course provided that: the other dog does not score a "coat," the slip did not give one dog an unfair advantage, and the other dog does not force a wrench turn at a later point.
< 6. Catching the Hare vs. Giving the First Turn
Rule: If one dog give the first turn and the other bear the hare, then he which bore the hare shall win. < If the dog gives the first turn and the other bears the hare, he that bears the hare shall win. < If a hound catches the hare and bears it off, it wins the match even if the other hound gave the first turn.
< 8. Scoring Terms
Rule: ... a go-by, or the bearing of the hare equal with two turns. < A go-by, or bearing the hare, is equivalent to two turns. < A "go- by," in which one dog passes the other on a straight run is equal in scoring to two turns. Catching the hare also equals two turns in score.
< 9. Winning Without a Turn
Rule: If neither dog turn the hare, then he which leadeth last, at the covert, shall be held to win the wager. < If neither dog turns the hare, he that leads last to the covert wins. < If neither dog earns any points, the dog in the lead at the end when the hare reaches the covert, wins. (The covert was thick underbrush or woodland at the end of the course into which the hare could escape the greyhounds.)
< 10. Scoring a Coat
Rule: If one dog turn the hare, serve himself, and turn her again, those two turns shall be as much as a coat. < If one dog turns the hare, serve himself and turn her again, it is as much as a cote, and a cote is esteemed two turns (vs. three turns?). < A "coat" can be scored with only two turns if the hound forces a turn, then continues on without help from the other dog and forces a second turn. When a dog forced a turn it normally lost ground on the hare and the other dog, if close enough, could take advantage of this and gain on the hare, perhaps forcing a turn itself or setting up the first dog to make another turn and thus "serving" it. A dog which was able to gain the ground lost on one turn to also force the next turn, without help from the other dog, had done something impressive enough to earn a coat score.
< 11. Bearing the Hare
Rule: If all the course be equal, there be only which bears the hare shall win; and if she be not borne, then the course must be adjudged dead. < If all the course be equal, he that bares the hare shall win, and if she be not borne, the course shall be adjudged dead. < If the scoring between the two dogs is even, the dog which catches the hare wins. Otherwise, it is a draw.
< 12. Finding the Dead Hare
Rule: If he which comes first into the death of the hare, takes her up and saves her from breaking, cherisheth the dogs, and cleanseth their mouths from the wool, or other filth of the hare, for such courtesy done, he shall in courtesy challenge the hare, but not doing it he shall have no right, privilege or title therein. < [out of order, rule 19]
He that comes in first to the death of the hare, takes her up and saves her from breaking, cherishes the dogs and cleanses their mouth from the wool, is judged to have the hare for his pains. < The first person who comes upon the dead hare and the dogs, if he keeps the hare from damaged by the dogs, and cleans the dogs up, will be able to keep the hare as a reward.
< 13. Recovering from a Fall
Rule: If any dog shall take a fall in the course, and yet perform his part, he shall challenge advantage of a turn more then he giveth. < If a dog takes a fall in a course, and yet performs his part, he may challenge the advantage of a turn more than he gave. < If a dog takes a tumble during the course but holds his own against the other dog, and doesn't quit, his perseverance gains him the scoring equivalent of one turn more than he actually gave.
< 14. Finishing the Course
Rule: If one dog turn the hare, serve himself, and give divers coats, yet in the end stand still in the field, the other dog without turn-giving, running home to the covert, that dog which stood still in the field shall be then adjudged to lose the wager. < If a dog turns the hare, serve himself, and gives divers cotes, and yet in the end stands still in the field, the other dog, if he turns home of the covert, although he gives no turn, shall be adjudged to win the wager. < If a dog scores well, but doesn't finish the course (stopping before the covert is reached), he loses to the lower-scoring dog which finishes the course.
< 15. Riding Over a Dog
Rule: If any man shall ride over a dog and overthrow him in his course (though the dog were the worse dog in opinion) yet the party for the offence shall either receive the disgrace of the field, or pay the wager; for between the parties, it shall be adjudged no course. < If by misfortune a dog be ridden over in his course, the course is void, and to say the truth, he that did the mischief ought to make reparation for the damage. < The person who rides over a dog with his horse, even if the dog probably was going to lose, must pay the wager on behalf of the dog's owner or face public disgrace (probably both in practice). The match is nullified.
< 7. Winning on First and Last TurnsRule:If one dog give both the first turn and last turn, and no other advantage between them, that odd turn shall win the wager. < If a dog gives the first and last turn and there be no advantage between them, he that gives the odd turn shall win. < If the dogs force an equal number of turns on the hare, and gain no advantage in any other way (such as catching the hare), then the dog which forces the first and last turns is the winner.
< < A cote is when a Greyhound goeth endways by his fellow and gives the hare a turn. < A cote is when the dog passes (?) the other dog and then forces the hare to turn.
< 8. Scoring Terms
Rule: That a coat shall be more then two turns... < A cote serves for two turns, and two tripplings or jerkins for a cote; and if she turneth not right about she only wrencheth.
The first [earlier] version has it thus: A cote shall be more than two turns, and a go-by, or bearing the hare, equal to two turns. < A "coat" is awarded for forcing a series of three or more turns... vs. a cote counts as two turns, and two trippings/jerkins counts as a cote. If it isn't a full turn, it's only a wrench.
< < If there be no cotes given between a brace of Greyhounds and that the one of them serves the other as turning, then he that gives the hare the most turns wins the wager; and if one gives as many turns as the other, he that beareth the hare wins the wager. < If neither dog gets any cotes, then the one with the most turns wins. If they have the same number of turns, then the one that beareth the hare wins.
< < Sometimes the hare doth not turn but wrencheth, for she is not properly said to turn, unless she turns, as it were, round. [Blain adds -
and two wrenches stand for a turn.] < If the hare goes not turn enough, she only wrencheth.
< 16. Determining the Winner
Rule: Those which are chosen Judges of the Leash, shall give their judgments presently before they depart from the field, or else he, in whose default it lieth, shall pay the Wager by a general voice and sentence. < Those that are judges of the Leash must give their judgement presently, before they depart the field. < If the match has chosen judges, they must announce the winner before leaving the coursing field. If no judges, the winner will be decided by vote of those present.
< http:''www.gulfcoastgreyhounds.org/course-rules.html < http:''www3.sympatico.ca/afghaned/origcrse.html < Google books


The hare-wrangler is to cry "so-how" three times to warn the hound-wrangler and the hounds that the hare is about to be sent out. (Rule #3)

The hound-wrangler is to give the hare a proper head start before releasing them, although not so much of a head start that the hounds risk losing sight of the hare. (Rule #4)

Points are given for:

  • Turn - when the dog gets close enough to the hare that it changes course (90 degree turn) to get away.
  • First turn - the dog that forces the first turn will win unless the other dog gets a coat, a slip, a wrench extraordinary, or actually catches the hare (Rule #5)
  • First & last turn - if both dogs get an equal number of turns and nothing else distinguishes one over the other, the dog that made the first and last turns will win (but Rule #5?) (Rule #7)
  • Go-by - when one dog passes the other on a straightaway, that is worth two turns (Rule #8)
  • Coat - earned when a dog forces 3 turns? 2 turns with a go-by? or makes 2 turns in a row (because the dog that forces a turn usually falls significantly behind the other dog as a result of the turn) (Rule #8)
  • Wrench - a less-than-90-degree turn (per Encyclopedia Britannica)
  • Wrench Extraordinary - ?
  • Fall - if a dog falls, but gets up and completes the chase, it is worth a turn (Rule #13)
  • Catching the hare - worth two turns (different from "bearing the hare"?) (Rule #8)
  • Bearing the hare - catching the hare is worth more than forcing the first turn. All else being equal, the dog that bears the hare wins. (Rule #6, 11)
  • Winning at the covert - if neither dog turns the hare, the one in the lead when the hare reaches the covert (the brush at the end of the course where the hare escapes to safety) will be the winner (Rule #9)
  • Finishing - if one dog doesn't chase all the way to the covert, the dog that finishes the whole course will win even if he had a lower score (Rule #14)

Per Coursing and Falconry (Harding Edward de Fonglanque Cox, Gerald William Lascelles, 1899) the points are as follows:

  • Speed - one, two or three points according to the degree of superiority shown
  • The Go-bye - two points, or if gained on the outer circle, three points
  • The Turn - one point
  • The Wrench - half a point
  • The Kill - two points, or, in a descending scale, in proportion to the degree of merit displayed in that kill, which may be of no value (as when the hare happens to take an unlucky turn right into the dogs mouth).
  • The Trip - one point.