Let’s Talk Mushing

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This topic contains 97 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Kay Lee Brown 7 years ago.

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  • #32376

    Anonymous

    Oh thanks! That’s way more affordable than I thought 🙂
    We do a lot of night training, otherwise most of the year we’d be inactive.
    At our races all the teams minus the newbies have to bring their own lights so that we can race in the coldest possible weather.

    #32377

    Kay Lee Brown
    Participant
    Esky the Husky wrote:
    I’ve got one bootie where the elastic has come off I’m happy to send you 🙂
    Not sure how long postage would take sending it overseas though, but you’re welcome to it if you like.

    Thank you for the offer. I don’t think sending a bootie from down under would be worth the postage. I am curious though. I have never seen booties with elastic. Everyone around here and those I saw in AK were closed with velcro. Where is the elastic?

    #32378

    Kay Lee Brown
    Participant

    Yesterday Team Nookies took our season’s first long sled run. If we don’t get snow, it will be our last. There only was snow on the road because it had been packed by snowmobiles. The snow itself was cement hard. The trail/road was crisscrossed with snowmobile tracks of widly varing depths. When it came time to turn the dogs around, I ran into the same problem I have with my rig – me facebown being drug. How do you stay on the sled/rig and get a team turned around without tangles? Some of the time the rig itself is involved since one dog goes one way and the others the other way around. (I do not use neck lines on my leaders because those always caused tangles) Koyuk in Wheel invariably gets her legs wrapped in the other’s tugs. I always have to go forward to untangle the web of lines and dogs. Once free, they take off. Most of the time I am not fast enough to get solidly get back on the rig or runners. I have started to use a drag rope so I don’t get left in thier dust but of course that leads to me being drug.

    I have worked hard on stays. Out of harness they each have solid 5 minute stays. Once in harness, instinct kicks in and they take off. “Whoa” and “Stop” are also foreign to them.

    I guess I have two questions: How do you get a team cleanly turned around on command alone? And how do you get them to stay and/or stop?

    For years my question was how do you get them to go. My tangles were from them coming back to me to see what I was doing. I can’t believe I now have the opposite problem causing serious tangles.

    #32379

    @Kay Lee wrote:

    Thank you for the offer. I don’t think sending a bootie from down under would be worth the postage. I am curious though. I have never seen booties with elastic. Everyone around here and those I saw in AK were closed with velcro. Where is the elastic?

    The Booties I get from Porters have an elastic velcro which really helps keep them from falling off. At $1 each, for my small team, I don’t think I could make them for less than that, seeing as I’d have to buy a sewing machine…

    #32381

    @Kay Lee wrote:

    I have worked hard on stays. Out of harness they each have solid 5 minute stays. Once in harness, instinct kicks in and they take off. “Whoa” and “Stop” are also foreign to them.
    I guess I have two questions: How do you get a team cleanly turned around on command alone? And how do you get them to stay and/or stop?
    For years my question was how do you get them to go. My tangles were from them coming back to me to see what I was doing. I can’t believe I now have the opposite problem causing serious tangles. [/color]

    Kay Lee- Turning a team is always hard. We train our dogs to go forward- never to turn around, and then every now and then we ask them to do the opposite. It just doesn’t make sense to them, and for good reason. I don’t know anyone that can turn their team on command. I’ve heard stories of lead dogs being able to, after the driver has fallen off, or something like that, but you’d have to have a hell of a strong lead dog to do that. I try to run on trails that are either loops or have a button hook at the end, so I can avoid turning them around. I don’t want them to get the idea that they can turn around at will.

    The best way I’ve found is with 2 or 3 snow hooks. Of course with this crappy snow we’ve got, setting a hook can be a challenge, but the trick is to set two at the sled, each facing the opposite way, one for holding the sled facing the way it is, the other for holding it the way you want to end up.

    Then, you get your team dragged around, tangles and all, and hook the 3rd hook to the lead dogs to keep them lined out. Get everyone sorted, pull the first (now backwards) hook, then pull the lead hook, hop back on the runners, pull the 3rd hook and you’re on your way!

    Teaching a good line out for me is a bit different than a Stay. When I’m working on that, I’ll hold the team, make them wait, until they’re doing exactly what I want. Running is their reward for a good line out. Something I’ve found helpful, is when their on a good straight away, I’ll stop them for a short spot, then, give the line out command, and as soon as the line is tight, take off. Doing that a bunch of times reinforces that when they’re leaning into the harness, we can go, not before. Also, having a handler is really helpful. And, you’re right. Getting Chinooks to run “away” from you is hard enough, I try to avoid teaching them to come back towards me once their lined out.

    To get them to stop, I use Whoaaaaa… in an even and low tone. They’re also conditioned to stop when they hear the brake dragging into the snow. I also have an “Easy” to get them to slow a bit, if needed.

    If neck lines seem to cause tangles, try a shorter one, or one with bungee in it. I find w/ Roo and Matrix, both smaller dogs, I need a pretty short neckline or one of them will end up stepping over it.

    Bear in mind, all of this is easier to work on from an ATV or heavy cart than it is from a sled.

    Crappy snow aside, we had a pretty epic run on Sunday. A super fast (hard and icy) trail at Trillium Lake and a new 4 dog configuration turned in one of our fastest runs yet. My whole team is very young, and still learning, but it’s very rewarding to watch them figure things out. Roo knows her directions very well, as does Parkie, but she’s still learning how to assert herself. Matrix (one of the Huskies) is just learning her directions, and I can tell she gets frustrated when she tries to guess which way to go, and Roo (or I) have to correct her. It’s great to see her trying to figure it out though. Parkie is just stellar, he’s the biggest dog on the team, and certainly the ‘crew boss’ but he’s very gentle and an excellent motivator and moral booster, as long has he doesn’t have to run Lead, he’s happy. Our 4th is Zira, the other Husky, and she’s just a solid dog, learning that running fast on a team is as much fun as chasing squirrels and birds.

    If our race at Frog Lake happens at the end of the month, we’ll run in the 4 dog class, and might even make a showing of it! We’re already planning our training program for next fall.

    #32382

    Kay Lee Brown
    Participant

    Oof Da – three hooks! I can’t imagine the tangle I would get with that. I saw Libby Renyolds get hit in the head by a hook that broke loose and Liz Parish’s wound from the hook that got her on the Iditarod. Hooks scare me. Yestereday I stood and stamped on my hook and it still barely set. Patrollers up at the ski area a mile away use an industrial size, battery drill to put in signs and boo. Not good snow this year. At least it isn’t punchy or breakable crust.

    The problem I was having with neck lines on leaders was that one dog would go under the gangline and the other over it on their way around. The resulting knot would get even tighter when tugs became involved. For the most part, Willy and Cedar run flank to flank. The tough trail yesterday made them fan a bit. I was concerned about injury if they weren’t free to run where they needed to to avoid stumbing into deep snowmobile ruts.

    I wish I had a trail where I could have a loop. There is no where I can go within 100 miles with my rig or sled that isn’t out and back.

    It would be so much fun to see my three Chinooks with your two on a team. I am so bummed mine were so reactive when they met your’s. Maybe someday. If/when we get snow, we should try to meet to Ray Benson.

    Best of luck with Frog II. Chemult is once again bare.

    #32383

    @Kay Lee wrote:

    Oof Da – three hooks! I can’t imagine the tangle I would get with that.
    The problem I was having with neck lines on leaders was that one dog would go under the gangline and the other over it on their way around. The resulting knot would get even tighter when tugs became involved. For the most part, Willy and Cedar run flank to flank. The tough trail yesterday made them fan a bit. I was concerned about injury if they weren’t free to run where they needed to to avoid stumbing into deep snowmobile ruts.

    It would be so much fun to see my three Chinooks with your two on a team. I am so bummed mine were so reactive when they met your’s. Maybe someday. If/when we get snow, we should try to meet to Ray Benson.

    Best of luck with Frog II. Chemult is once again bare.

    Valid concerns, to be sure. What about a snub line? If you’re ok with a drag line, maybe tie off to a tree until you’ve got everyone turned around? It may help to disconnect their neck lines too, if you decide to try them, while turning them around.
    The key, I think, is some off season or fall training, specific to the kinds of trails you’re running. They’ll figure out whats expected of them after a while.

    We’ll definitely have to get them together. I can’t wait to run an All Chinook Team!

    If not at Benson, for sure next year at La Pine. I’m still hoping to run at Bachelor too, if their race happens.

    #32384

    Kay Lee Brown
    Participant

    Valid concerns, to be sure. What about a snub line? If you’re ok with a drag line, maybe tie off to a tree until you’ve got everyone turned around? It may help to disconnect their neck lines too, if you decide to try them, while turning them around.
    The key, I think, is some off season or fall training, specific to the kinds of trails you’re running. They’ll figure out whats expected of them after a while.

    We’ll definitely have to get them together. I can’t wait to run an All Chinook Team!

    If not at Benson, for sure next year at La Pine. I’m still hoping to run at Bachelor too, if their race happens.[/quote]

    I have used a snub line to turn 10 dog teams (Karen’s sibs) in the Ochoycos, but there no trees anywhere near the three lane wide Waldo Road. They are cut back several feet. No trees at all on the road I use with my rig. Now I have a stimulating challenge – train them to turn around without tangling.

    Last year I did the Batchelor distance overnight crew and was going to enter this year but then I heard the trail description. My dogs are used to steep hills but this one sounds like a major climb and frighting coming down at the end. With only three dogs, I would be asking a bit much of them to do the 5 miler sprint race. I haven’t decided if I am going or not. If you have a team there, I may just take my motor home and do after the race runs.

    You should come to our Mush Without Slush fun races. They are Mar 31-Apr 1 outside Sisters. The trails are a blast – level and winding through the sagebrush and pines. Last year on 3 weeks notice we gathered 22 mushers with teams and threw together this event. Everyone had so much fun, they were grabbing dogs and running race after race.

    Can you escape on weekdays? I would love to do a Ray Benson run. Too may snowmobiles on weekends.

    #32385

    Anonymous

    @Kay Lee wrote:

    @Esky the Husky wrote:

    I’ve got one bootie where the elastic has come off I’m happy to send you 🙂
    Not sure how long postage would take sending it overseas though, but you’re welcome to it if you like.

    Thank you for the offer. I don’t think sending a bootie from down under would be worth the postage. I am curious though. I have never seen booties with elastic. Everyone around here and those I saw in AK were closed with velcro. Where is the elastic?

    Whoops, I meant to say velcro, but I forgot the name for it 😳

    #32394

    White out conditions and over a foot of new snow made for some fun, if not slow, trails today. Lot’s of happy dogs, well groomed trails and fun times.
    [attachment=0:1gahmorh]frog lake.jpg[/attachment:1gahmorh]

    #32395

    Today brought more snow, but little or no wind. Pretty much perfect conditions!

    Neck and neck finish!
    [attachment=1:zjdl5418]Photo Finish (1).jpg[/attachment:zjdl5418]

    The final result:
    [attachment=0:zjdl5418]2nd place.jpg[/attachment:zjdl5418]

    #32396

    Kay Lee Brown
    Participant

    Dan, What fun it is to open the forum and see your pictures. Congrats on the win!

    #32397

    Kris Holleran
    Participant

    Congrats to you and your team! Am so glad somebody has snow to play in! It sounds like you are sprint racing. Are those distances limited to a max of 5 miles? Do you have many Euro-hounds in the races with you? I don’t know much about the different types of races, and most of the ones here have been cancelled this year due to lack of snow. If you ever have time, could you explain how races are characterized. I know there are mid-distance, long distance and sprints – how are the distances determined and are there any freighting races as well? Love the pics and videos. Thanks, Kris

    #32398

    @Kay Lee wrote:

    Dan, What fun it is to open the forum and see your pictures. Congrats on the win!

    Thanks Kay Lee!

    @kris wrote:

    Congrats to you and your team! Am so glad somebody has snow to play in! It sounds like you are sprint racing. Are those distances limited to a max of 5 miles? Do you have many Euro-hounds in the races with you? I don’t know much about the different types of races, and most of the ones here have been cancelled this year due to lack of snow. If you ever have time, could you explain how races are characterized. I know there are mid-distance, long distance and sprints – how are the distances determined and are there any freighting races as well? Love the pics and videos. Thanks, Kris

    Thanks Kris-
    We are sprint racing, by default, as we didn’t really get enough snow early on to train for distance. Next year our dirt training will focus more on distance, as I think Chinooks are more suited to that, and, selfishly, I like being out on the trail with the dogs longer!

    A 4 dog sprint is usually around 4-5 miles, 6 dog 5-6, 8 dog -8 miles. Next weekend we’re running at the Bachelor Dog Derby, and they do a 4.5 mile 5 dog and a 9 mile 9 dog class. The mid distance races can be anywhere from 14 to 20 some odd miles. I believe the distances are set by the race organizers, although various governing bodies may set them depending on what ever point system the race may be part of.

    We do run against euro-hounds, as well as pedigree ‘Alaskan’ lines, and the difference is amazing. Those dogs are fast!

    There still is some season left, if you want to watch some races, check out http://www.sleddogcentral.com/schedules/race_schedules.htm to see if there’s one near you!

    #32401

    Kris Holleran
    Participant

    Thanks Dan,
    We are finally having wonderful, glorious SNOW, SNOW, SNOW!! It won’t last long, but I am on winter break and plan on heading out tomorrow if possible! Thanks for the info on races. Will check the website, but most of the races in our area have been cancelled due to lack of snow and unsafe ice. Many of the regional “real” mushers go to the same place we do. Was always intimidated until I spoke with one of them and he and his wife were nice as could be. I imagine it will be very busy tomorrow and Friday. As my guys are not as well trained, try to go in the off times. However, other mushers say not to worry – we will go around you. I love what you are doing and all your accomplishments. Hope to get there in the future, but for now just doing our best and loving every minute!
    Kris

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