Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rietsu's Coursing Debut

I'm going to jump out of chronological order, just for a minute, since I'm so behind on posts. I'm just so excited and pleased with Rietsu's first competitive coursing results that I had to share sooner rather than later.

Photo by Jairi Rai

So, the CRA (California Rarebreed Association) had its second-to-last coursing meeting of the 2014/2015 season this past Sunday (1/18). The field that we used for this hunt had recently been drained of several feet of water that had been brought in following a big rain storm earlier this season. As such, the ground was still quite damp and muddy, but we managed to walk through it, and clearly some of the hare population had moved back in.

Waiting for the fog to lift

The biggest hang-up we had was the fog. We set roll call for 7am, but the fog was so thick we weren't able to enter the field until almost noon, and even then the visibility was bad. Still, we had to get going at some point or we wouldn't have any chance of getting done.

We had a decent sized entry for the day; 5 Silken Windhounds, 4 Magyar Agars, 1 Afghan Hound, and 1 Pharaoh Hound. Gil, Pi and Patti drew the last course all together, and Rietsu drew the third course along with the Afghan and the Pharaoh.

Photo by Jairi Rai

We got the first hare up pretty quickly upon entering the field, and the three Silkens that were running it had a nice decent-length course. We got a second hare up pretty quickly after the first, but it jumped from behind us and the dogs could not get sighted on it. Nevertheless, it was very encouraging to get so many hares up so quickly given that we got such a late start.

Photo by Jairi Rai

We finally got a third hare up for the second prelim course, but the rabbit jumped right at the base of the levee and immediately went up, down, and under a fence. Not much of a course, but enough for us to move on. At that point it was Rietsu's turn, and we suddenly had a hard time finding hares.

In slips and ready to go!

We had decided to cross from one side of the field to the other when we got the fourth hare up. It was a long call and the dogs became unsighted almost immediately, but to their great luck they popped another hare and took off after it! I could not see most of the course, but Rietsu was right up where the action was and running like she had been doing it her whole life. They ran for quite a ways, but she found her way back to the gallery without a hitch, and happy as a clam!

Rietsu after her run
She was tired!

As it turns out, that's where the excitement for the day ended. We put the last course up, and walked for hours without even seeing another hare. With the weather being so foggy, the day was getting darker at a much faster pace, and in the interest of finishing the hunt I decided to scratch my three and call it a day.

It was definitely disappointing that Gil/Pi/Patti didn't get to run, but Rietsu ended up with a 4th place overall, which definitely made up for it! So far, every one of our American Magyar Agars has earned points and placements at their very first hunts. We can't wait to run again next weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Double Pi Day

Pi, Patti, and Hattie in the gallery
Photo by Herb Wells

So, back in November, during Thanksgiving weekend, I took Pi, Patti, and Hattie down south for a weekend of coursing. Saturday was a CGCA Greyhound breed hunt for Hattie, and Sunday was the CGCA mixed hunt for the two Agars.

Saturday's Greyhound hunt was very productive. We had a hard time finding the first couple of rabbits, but then we hit the jackrabbit pocket and were popping more than one at a time. It was a warm, sunny day, and we finished on finals in the early afternoon. Hattie placed 5th overall, and the Agar twins had a good time working the gallery for us.

Hattie with her 5th Place medallion

The next day, the weather got much cooler with a lot of cloud cover. Our stake was sent to a field which I personally dislike hunting in, because it tends to be unproductive whenever I go there. But, I remained hopeful, and with the weather being on the cool side I was happy.

Jairi walking Chudak the Borzoi, Bukra, and Rietsu
She was not happy about the weather, lol

There were five prelim courses; Pi drew course three, and Patti drew course five. To my great surprise, we started finding rabbits almost immediately upon entering the field, and got one up about every hour.

Pi's rabbit came up on his side, the far right, and bolted through a patch of open where he could see it very clearly. He ran with two Salukis, including Rietsu's kennel-mate Bukra. I could not see most of the course, but Pi led for as long as I could see him and put at least one turn and a few wrenches on it before he got out of sight. He came back to the gallery, tired but very happy.

Pi hanging out with Glenn, Bukra, and Hattie

We got the fourth course off shortly after, but after that our luck completely dried up. We walked for several hours without seeing another rabbit before we decided to move to another field. It was getting dark, and Patti was getting frustrated being on-line for so long.

We packed up as quickly as possible and headed to another field nearby. We got one rabbit up as soon as we arrived, but it was so hidden by the surrounding bushes that neither dog was sighted. We walked a little ways further and finally got the last rabbit we needed. Patti had no trouble getting sighted, but she took a misstep and tripped a little bit, which effectively kept her out of the course. Oh well. It was very anti-climactic, but it was all we needed to finish on prelims.

Pi and his 2nd Place ribbon

After all the scores were added up, the two top placing dogs in the hunt were Pi the Saluki (1st), and Baby Pi (2nd)! I was very surprised that Pi did so well, but it really made up for the disappointment of having Patti get such a crappy run.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 LGRA Breed Standings

LGRA has posted breed and all breed rankings for the year 2014, and here are the final Magyar Agar breed standings:

#1: Pirate
CH Stouthearted Chocolate Soldier CC CM JD

#2: Gil
GRCH Aranyagi Utonallo Fenseg CC CM GRC JOR

#3: Gator
Betcha-Katcha Omlin GRC

#4: Luna
GRCH Betcha-Katcha Ojeda GRC 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Rietsu!

Photo by Jairi Rai

Today is Rietsu's first birthday! Happy Birthday to her, and the rest of her siblings! We can't wait to see what the coming years have to bring!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Nevada Coursing

Patti, Gil, and Pi: Ready for Action

This blog entry is long overdo, and I hope my memory of it isn't too foggy.

On the weekend of November 22nd and 23rd, Tom and I packed up his pickup truck with Patti, Pi, and Gil, and drove out to northern Nevada for some open field coursing. It was our first rarebreed hunt of the season, and the first coursing outing for any of my dogs since the Grand Course back in February.

The weather was predicted to be quite chilly, and to avoid any possibility of getting stuck in the snow while going over the pass, we decided to leave Friday night. We arrived around 8:00, checked into our hotel and went to bed early in preparation for an early roll call the next morning.

 Frank, our judge, sitting atop his giant van in the beautiful Nevada desert

As predicted, it was very cold the next morning, and by the time we rolled into the valley we were to hunt in the wind had picked up quite a bit, making the chill all the more sharp. I wasn't phased by it at all; in fact I prefer to be cold rather than warm, and with all the t-shirt weather coursing we had the year before I welcomed the sub-40 degree temperatures.

 Fadiahr the Afghan

We had a good entry of 11 hounds the first day (1 Galgo, 3 Magyars, 4 Afghans, and 3 Silkens), but not enough of any one breed to split the stake. I can't remember exactly which course numbers my dogs drew, except that Pi and Patti wound up in the same course, which I was glad about. Patti is the least experienced of the three Magyars when it comes to coursing, and I hoped that by running with her brother she would have the good sense to follow him back to the gallery when the course was over, rather than wandering off on her own.

 Diego the Galgo

Overall, the rabbits were pretty scarce and very good at evading the hounds, which is typical of my experiences with Nevada coursing. The few times I've hunted there, the rabbits always seemed to have an uncanny ability to seemingly disappear into thin air just as the dogs begin to gain on it. The landscape is deceptively uneven (it looks flat when viewed from a distance, but is actually scattered with low and high spots), and with the brush being as thick as it can be in some spots, it's easy for the rabbits to duck into a hiding spot. In sum, it's a very challenging place to hunt, but the beauty of the landscape itself more than makes up for it.

 Tom soothing Patti, who got a little impatient for her turn to run

We got the first couple of rabbits up, fairly early in the day. Gil's rabbit came up at about 10 'o-clock, and took the dogs over a rise and down into a much lower area of the field, almost completely out of our sight. All three hounds were pretty well-matched on the run up, but by the time we could see them again Gil was quite a bit ahead of the others. It wasn't much of a course from a spectator point of view, but the dogs clearly had fun, and I think they got their money's worth.

Pi, taking a break from slips, but always on the look-out for rabbits

Pi and Patti's hare got up at about 3 'o-clock, right as we were coming over a small rise (he must have been sitting on the edge of the gully). Pi and Patti took off like a light, up and over the rise and out of my sight again. From what we and the judge could tell, there wasn't as much to that course as there had been with Gil's, but I was happy that Patti got sighted and had a good slip, and that she came back safely and quickly.

We struggled to find our last prelim of the day, and had to settle for a very long call that amounted to even less than a tail-chase. With that, we decided to call it a day, and hoped for better runs the next day. Final results had Gil placing 2nd, Pi 3rd, and Patti 5th.

 Kepi the Afghan

We got out of the field just as the sun was disappearing over the horizon. Too tired and cold to leave the hotel for dinner, we had a pizza delivered right to our room. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, and I did not wake up at all until my alarm went off the next morning.

 A hunter and his hound

Sunday's weather was much milder by comparison. It was still cold, but without the wind and occasionally rain showers it didn't feel nearly as bone-chilling. We decided to drive further into the field than we had the day before, hoping for more rabbits. As it turned out, we got to take in lots of new and beautiful scenery, but there wasn't a single rabbit to be had until we headed back down the valley to where we had been the day before.

 Karly the Silken Windhound

We had the same number of dogs entered, and somehow Pi and Patti managed to draw the same course again. Gil drew the last course, a brace, which we ultimately had to scratch in order to finish the day on prelims. Although I felt bad that Gil didn't get a chance to run that day, he kind of deserved it for acting like a complete fool all day long. I don't know if the lack of rabbits mixed with adrenaline caused him to go into some kind of delirium, but he would not stop barking all day long, and he would get particularly crazy at the sight of some dirt bikers and ATVers who were driving around in the distance.

 Patti says, "I WANT THE BUNNIES!"

Despite not having a lot of rabbits, Pi and Patti had probably the best run of the day, not because there was any really brilliant moves on their part, but because of how long and far the course went on. Pi isn't the best courser who ever lived, but he has a knack for staying on a hare's ass, even when it starts pulling out all kinds of evasive maneuvers. He stayed on this particular rabbit all the way past the road that we had come into the field on, and up the base of the mountains that created the walls of the valley itself. I don't know exactly how far he ran, but it was quite far. The only reason he lost it was because he couldn't run vertically and stay sighted at the same time, although he tried very hard. Patti wasn't a factor in the course from what I could see, but she stayed right behind her brother, and followed him back to the gallery pleased as punch.

 Patti returning from her run

For all that effort, Pi ended up with a 1st place (his very first 1st place!), and Patti ended up in 4th place.
Overall, I consider the weekend to have been a success. We may not have had as many rabbits as we would have liked, but the weather was to my liking, the scenery was AWESOME, and my dogs had a great time. What more could I ask for?

 We got one of each placement!

The one and only thing that dampened my day was losing my Garmin Astro in the field :-(  The hand-held unit detached from the clip holding it to my belt, which I did not notice until we got back to the cars. I have since bought a replacement hand-held unit, but man did it make me sad to drive away from that valley knowing it was sitting out there with no way for me to find it (sob).