By ©Robyn Ives
Greyhounds have been known in England since Roman times, but during the 18th century were mixed with other breeds to add to their good looks, the qualities required for hare coursing – speed and stamina. They were also crossbred with bulldogs for their ferocity and tenacity.
Hare coursing was a popular sport and an article in the “Sportsman” in 1840, described the technique.
It appears that if a hare runs straight a good greyhound will catch it. But the hare is clever and knows that if it turns short at the moment the dog is about to strike, the momentum of the dog will carry it forward twenty or thirty yards away from the hare.
The hare’s jerking movements sap the dog’s stamina and the hare will make its successful escape.
That’s why greyhounds normally hunted in pairs. It was much more difficult for the hare to escape from two dogs, because turning from the leading dog, usually meant it was difficult to avoid the second dog.
Hares make their escape into thickets and under that cover the greyhounds can’t pursue them.
When a greyhound perceives that the hare is about to enter a thicket and it’s within a reasonable distance of the hare, it will strike. As the hare approaches the thicket it shortens its stride and jumps or springs in the air. The dogs are flung off-guard and the hare has entered the thicket and made its escape.
Research and preparation by Robyn Ives© for Staffordshire Stories Menu Tour - 2013