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there is often quite as much excitement produced as in the most important public meeting. But then there must be a person appointed to act as judge, for without this functionary there must be endless disputes as to the respective qualifications of the greyhounds engaged. With him, if he understands the points of the course, it is only necessary to conduct the beating of the ground properly, and to appoint a proper person to slip the greyhounds, and then everything is en règle.
In beating the ground, when there are no gentlemen present on horseback, five or six beaters must be provided, whose task is somewhat onerous, if there is much ploughed land, especially in clay districts when wet. In any case, a line should be formed, with one person at every twenty yards, and then walking abreast from one extremity of the field to the other, so as either to find the hare sitting, or to put her up from her form. The proper direction of this line of beaters, so as to drive the hare in the best direction, requires some considerable experience and tact. Thus, when there is a covert near, the beat should be from it, so as to compel the hare to go in the opposite direction, by which a sufficiently long course is often insured, whereas otherwise she would be safe before she was well reached. At the end of this beat the men should return over the beaten ground, taking what is called a " dead beat,” and then again beating from covert. When the part of a field is beaten near the hedge, the line on that side should be extended forwards ; and, if there is a horseman present, he should walk up close to the hedge, thirty yards in front of the others, so as to prevent the hare at once running through it. Hares may often be driven out of turnips, clover, or small coverts, by a line of beaters driving them towards the dogs, which are held at a particular spot, and kept as much as possible out of sight. The slipper uses the same kind of slips as are adopted in public coursing, and slips his dogs in the same way, adapting the length of the slip allowed to the nature of the ground. It is a very bad plan to let the greyhounds run loose while the hare is looked for, as the two rarely start on even terms, and consequently they cannot be compared together. Unless, therefore, coursing is pursued solely to get the hare, slips are indispensable.
When private coursing is conducted in the above way, it is quite as good a sport as the public kind; but too often it degenerates into a series of mobbings of the hare, followed by perpetual squabblings of the owners of the dogs engaged, as to their respective merits or demerits.
This amusement has now become very general since the last alteration of the game laws, which permitted any person to course a hare without a certificate. It differs from private coursing, firstly, in requiring rather a different greyhound, and, secondly, in being governed strictly by rules which settle all the preliminaries.
The public greyhound, to be successful, must be a dog which can beat his competitors in the stake in which he is engaged, even
if he never runs afterwards respectably. Hence, unlike the dog which we have been just considering, everything is sacrificed to this point, and it has at last come to pass that the animal has been bred to such a degree of cleverness combined with speed that he very soon runs cunning, and is then no longer useful, because he will not exert his powers. The consequence is, that a great many dogs begin by running with extraordinary pace and working powers, but after winning one or two stakes they are not to be depended on. This is so common, that, as a rule, most coursers do not think it worth their while to keep their dogs for more than one season, and bring up a succession of puppies one year after another, reserving only one or two old ones to their second season. It must be remembered that this animal is kept for a specific purpose, namely, to compete with his fellows in killing the hare under certain conditions, which are defined by general consent and laid down in certain specified rules. Hence it is not the greyhound which will most certainly pull down his hare that is always to be prized, but he that will comply with these rules most fully in the act of running her, and will, in other words, score most points; and, in effecting this, four cardinal virtues must be combined as far as possible, consisting in speed, working power, bottom, and courage. It is almost impossible to obtain the fullest development of these several qualities in one individual, and therefore all that can be done is to sacrifice those which are of the least importance. Thus, excessive speed, as shown from the slips, is hardly consistent with a high degree of working power, or with a capability of lasting throughout a long course;
and for this reason extremely fast dogs are not adapted to down countries, where the hares are not only stout but short in their turns. In some localities, however, where there is no room for a long course, or where the hares are weak, a fast dog, even if he is not stout, and probably even if he is a bad worker, will be able to win a stake; but wherever the hares are good, and there is scope for them to display their powers, there must be both bottom and working power displayed in order to insure success. The best plan in breeding greyhounds is to obtain a brood bitch of stout blood and good working powers, combined with as much speed as possible, but still laying the most stress on the first two qualities, and then put her to a dog essentially fast, but in him also looking to bottom and working power, though secondary to speed. Courage is essential in all greyhounds, and may be obtained equally well whether the breed is fast or slow, clever in working or the reverse. It must exist with bottom, but may also be developed without it, some very soft greyhounds being high couraged, and going till they drop from the exhaustion of their delicate frames. In looking for these several qualities it is necessary to observe that speed depends upon the formation of the body and limbs, which must be of the most perfect make, as described under the head of the points of the greyhound at page 27 ; but with the most perfect shape there is often a want of speed, apparently owing to the absence of that nervous stimulus which sets the frame in motion. Such dogs want quickness and elasticity in using their organs, and, though they often move elegantly, there is a deficiency in the rapidity of repetition in the muscular contractions which constitute high speed. Hence the necessity for attending to breed, and to its purity, which is the only guarantee (short of an actual trial) that the perfect frame will give perfect action. The same remarks apply to working power : a dog may look to be exceedingly cleverly made, with good shoulders, and all the other parts essential to this faculty, and yet there may be a want of cleverness and tact, as well as a deficiency in courage, which will render him absolutely useless. But when the breed is known to be almost invariably good in these respects, and the formation of the individual is good, there is a reasonable ground for expecting that he will exhibit them in more or less perfection. Nothing is more provoking than to find a splendidly formed dog beaten in his trial by a wretchedlooking brute, the sole advantage attending the latter being that he is descended from good blood, while the former perhaps owns a sire and dam of well-known and ascertained imperfect nervous organisation.
When the young courser determines upon getting together a kennel of greyhounds, he must therefore carefully attend to all these points ; but with all his care he will be disappointed unless he knows how to manage them, or can intrust them to some one who does. Public greyhounds, as I have already explained, are easily spoiled by using them too frequently; and yet they must have some amount of practice before they run in a stake, or they will inevitably be beaten from awkwardness. Some breeds are naturally more clever than others, and take less time in coming to their best, so that, if they have as many courses as would barely suffice in many cases, they would be past their prime. All this