Finally, we’ve got snow! Well, 5 millimetres of it, but still – haven’t seen Taiga this happy for a while. Unfortunately, that is not enough for any winter sledding activities, so during the weekend we’ve had our first training on a three wheeled rig, owned by our good friends from Sled Dogs Baltic. Taiga has never done that, neither did we, so it would be too much for all of us to run in a team with a very experienced friend ‘Joris’ the Husky. Therefore she got an unexpected partner, also a first-timer – a Border Collie ‘Mukas’. And they ended up being a dream team with a great discipline!
I have noticed, that during the running exercises, Taiga tends to shift to the left side, thus we’ve hooked her up on the right side thinking, that this way she’s not going to drag the whole team into the left. Well, that worked for the first 10 metres, after which she jumped over her brother-in-arms ‘Mukas’ and returned to her preferred side… Anyway, she kept holding her position on the left side of the track, but never went outside of it – so it was absolutely fine by me.
We’ve done two sprint circles in a forest trail, 3,5 kilometres each: first with a husky team and me on a bike, then we switched the positions and I’ve got my first rig experience, while my colleague went on a bike. We chose to have a bike in front of a rig just to motivate the dogs to run, but haven’t foreseen, that riding a bike in a forest with snowy conditions will be that exhausting! Try doing this with two huskies and a rig constantly running behind you at over 20km/h, add some steep slopes and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Anyway, I always thought, that carting should be a bit scary: not much of control on corners, wide chassis leaving the track or catching a tree, etc. But no, it proved much less extreme and dangerous than bikejoring, where you are going fast (very fast) and have to concentrate enormously in order to react to your dog’s behaviour (or end up flying from the bike). On a rig you just have to attune to a balance of the whole team (the dogs, rig and yourself), which especially helps in sharp corners – just lean to and press the brakes slightly on the side towards which you are turning, thus helping the rig to take the corner. And help your dogs ascend steeper slopes by adding your own leg-power to the cause – that’s it, simple as that!
More information on training can be found here.
In a short, carting rocks! The feeling is great, it’s much more similar to sledding to both you and the dog and it makes you very proud of the whole team after you reach the finish line. Our first run in an unexpected Malamute – Border Collie dream team wasn’t going to get us an olympic speed medal, but it was still a great run for all of us. We kept an average speed of over 16 km/h for the whole 3,5 kilometres, peaked at 21 km/h and had a beautiful and exciting experience.
Now we’ll have to get a rig for ourselves, right after getting a second Malamute.