SIGHTHOUNDS TURNING AT THE GALLOP

   
       
  The following photographs will provide some idea of the extraordinary athleticism of the coursing Greyhound, but also of the footfall sequence and body movements involved in making sudden turns at speed. These dogs are travelling at about 38 mph when the turn begins. The turn was laid out as a relatively gradual one through about 90 degrees, at the end of a 200 yard straight run during a portion of which we measured the speed, stride frequency, stride length and so on. I (occasionally visible in the background atop a stepladder) was operating the lure; George Bell (occasionally visible in the background with an orange shirt) was filming the proceedings. The first sequence, directly below, was not as expected, because the lure "hung" on a pulley, so it became a graphic demonstration of how quickly a Greyhound can turn if the occasion calls for it.

The sequences were shot at 8 frames per second. A Greyhound executes about 3¾ complete gallop stride cycles per second.
   
       
  All photos on this page are © Herbert G. Wells, Alpaugh, California    
  Page design by John E. Burchard, Alpaugh, California    
       
       
 

In the following sequence of photos, the Greyhound was chasing a lure at full speed when the lure abruptly "hung" on a pulley and snapped back behind the dog. So this was a very abrupt turn, similar to those a dog might have to execute in pursuit of a jackrabbit (the "flying 180" is one of a jackrabbit's favorite maneuvers).

 
 

"Yikes! I have to turn hard right!" The left (outside) forefoot is planted, the right forefoot just about to touch down (note the carpal joint is already extended before ground contact). Both hind feet are off the ground.

 
 

Only the left (outside) hindfoot is on the ground. The dust was kicked up by the right forefoot and/or the right hindfoot.

 
 

Pushing off, very hard, with the left (outside) forefoot.

 
 

Note that the right (inside) foreleg is extended along the ground.

 
 

Pushing off with (I think) both hind legs - note the body rotation.

 
 

Dust kicked up by right (inside) hindfoot.

 
 

Left (outside) forefoot already off the ground, right forefoot pushing across the body to the left, both hind feet in the air, turning hips so as to push toward the inside of the turn.

 
 

Pushing off with both hind legs.

 
 

Pivoting some more around the right (inside) forepaw, both hind legs off the ground being brought forward, note hip rotation again preparatory to setting hind feet down in new direction..

 
     
     
 

Turn completed, setting off in new direction.

 
       
       
       
       
 

This Greyhound is still running straight ahead. The lure (two white plastic bags) has just made a 45 degree right turn around a pulley (the red hourglass-shaped object in right foreground). This is a more gradual turn, as described at the top of the page.

 
 

The Greyhound was "wrong-footed" here. He had already committed to setting the right forefoot down first - and is here pushing off, starting the turn, using the left (outside) forefoot.

 
 

Pushing off simultaneously with both hind feet, probably a result of having to change leads while the hindfeet were coming forward, i.e. in contracted suspension.

 
 

Now he is on the correct (right) lead - the left (outside) forepaw is pushing off, the right one about to set down but reaching across the body so it too can push the body into the turn.

 
 

Right (inside) hindfoot thrusting, left hindfoot about to set down.

 
 

Again, pushing off with the left (outside) forefoot, right forefoot about to set down across the body.

 
 

Dust spurt behind dog is from right (inside) forefoot, inside hindfoot thrusting, left (outside) hindfoot about to set down.

 
 

Pushing off on left (outside) forefoot, right forefoot again about to set down to thrust leftward, but not so extremely as in the previous two strides.

 
 

Pushing off with right (inside) hindfoot, outside hindfoot about to set down.

 
 

Yet again, pushing off with left (outside) forefoot, inside forefoot about to set down and still reaching across the body.

 
 

Pushing off right (inside) forefoot, inside hindfoot reaching forward about to touch down.

Note lure operator (on ladder) and cameraman (orange shirt) in background.

 
 

Right (inside) hindfoot just leaving the ground, left (outside) hindfoot thrusting.

 
 

Left (outside) forefoot just leaving ground, right forefoot planted with metacarpus on the ground.

 
 

Right (inside) hindfoot thrusting, left hindfoot about to set down.

 
 

Right (inside) forefoot on ground but not yet fully weight bearing (the stop pad is not yet on the ground).

 
 

Right hindfoot planted ...

 
 

Left forefoot has just touched down, not yet fully weight bearing; right forefoot reaching.

 
 

Just pushed off with right forefoot (note location of dust puff and position of right foreleg), right hindfoot coming forward to touch down.

 
 

Just pushed off with left hindfoot (note location of dust), left forepaw about to set down.