We love to see our Siberians do what comes natural to them… run. They love it too. We do race occasionally but most of all we enjoy taking the dogs out for a run in the forest or around the shingle roads. They just love getting out and doing it.
When we first started racing arctic breeds such as Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds were the most common. Now we see a lot more breed involved such as labs, pointers, setters, cross breed dogs and even dogs that are purpose breed. Many of these ‘non-arctic’ breeds are faster than the Siberian Huskies although over a long distance it may be different.
Depending on the race location, distance and terrain we may run a two dog scooter or a 6 dog rig. It is common for us to enter a two dog scooter and a 4 dog rig on the same day.
What is sled-dog racing?
In New Zealand there are two types of sled-dog racing – dryland racing and sled racing on snow.
Dryland racing is the most common form in New Zealand and is usually held on gravel roads and forestry tracks. For dryland racing, the rider (musher) races on a three-wheeled or four-wheeled cart called a rig, or on a two-wheeled scooter. The various classes for rig and scooter races are:
■ The rig class has classes that usually include two, three, four, six and eight-dog teams. These races are usually between 6km and 10km long.
■ The scooter class has single dog or two-dog teams racing. The scooter races are normally between 3km and 5km, shorter than the rig races.
■ At some events there is a freight class offered in conjunction with the other classes. In this class the team must pull a specified amount of weight depending on the team size: a two-dog team must carry an extra 45kg of weight plus the rig.
■ In the snow, the rigs and scooters are swapped for sleds or skis. Classes at snow events are the same as dryland without the freight class.
OTHER SLED DOG SPORTS
Weightpull is a test of a dog’s strength and determination. The dog must pull a weight-loaded rig 5m along a flat surface within 45 seconds. The weights are increased after each round.
The weightpull harness has a spreader bar to distribute the weight evenly.
The four weightpull classes are:
■ Class A: Under 27kg
■ Class B: Between 27kg and 36kg
■ Class C: Between 36kg and 50kg
■ Class D: More than 50kg
Dogs also compete for the highest body weight-ratio, the total amount of weight pulled divided by the dog’s weight. In dryland racing, snow racing and weightpull classes, dogs can achieve New Zealand Federation of Sled Dog Sports titles from points gained at sanctioned competitions.
Bikejoring is where a harnessed dog is attached to a towline and has to run ahead of the bike helping to pull the rider, who can pedal behind the dog.
Canicross descends from cross-country running with the dog attached to the runner by a line and harness. Club canicross races are between 3km and 5km and sometimes a mass start is used. This is a great class to start in and any dog that can run is a great dog for canicross. It is good for your health and fitness as well!