Friday, December 5, 2008

Time to go camping...

Now that the snow is here (unfortunately not a lot) and the dogs are progressing so nicely with the training, it is that time of year where we need to train the younger dogs that we don’t always just go go go when they are hooked up with the team. An important part of mid distance and distance mushing is to train the younger dogs to learn how to rest and sleep on the trail.

All dog sled races of over 100 miles have some sort of run/rest schedule which is dictated by the lead dog, the musher. There are many different strategies when it comes to run/rest schedules, but we aren’t too concerned at this point about race strategy – we just need the younger dogs to learn that when we stop after a long run and we put down straw for them to lie on, that they need to follow the older dogs and actually lie down and sleep (after we feed them a hot meal).

We did just that last Saturday and plan to do it again tomorrow. We ran the dogs up in the Caribou Hills for 5 ½ hours. It was quite windy and they got some great training breaking trail in wind blown conditions. Then we rested them 4 ½ hours and then did another 2 ½ hour run home.

Some of the younger dogs didn’t quite understand what we were doing at first, but as the sun went below the mountains and as we started a fire and left them alone, most of them got the drift and fell asleep. I can tell you that they must have got some good rest because when we hooked them up again after their sleep they went absolutely crazy with anticipation. It was great to see them perform such a long, strong and enthusiastic run so early in the season!