Sled Dog Racing has become our passion during the winter months. Ruby, Monty and Hudson absolutely love to work - it keeps them and us fit and happy, mentally and physically!
We compete at organised rallies around the country from October to March, mostly on Forestry Commission land. The courses are usually between 3 and 4 miles with occasional non-timed treks of 10 miles plus. The dogs pull a 3-wheeled rig or a sled if we're lucky enough to have some snow. They are only attached by lines so steering is by voice alone - so it's important to get the training in before competing. The dogs know their left and right better than we do!
During the cooler months the dogs train 3 times a week, running between 3 and 6 miles on each run depending on the temperatures. This is in addition to their normal 2 walks a day, regular games of chase in our enclosed paddock and other activities such as agility training.
The rallies vary slightly in format, but most races are divided up into classes depending on the type of dog. We are usually in the Freight class with other Malamutes, Canadian Eskimo Dogs, Samoyeds etc. Whilst the smaller and lighter Siberian Huskies are in a different class.
The dogs run in teams from 1 dog up to 6 and start on a countdown with gaps of 2 minutes between teams, so there can be overtaking going on around the course which can make things interesting. That's another time when training is important as they may have to pass other teams, spectators and other hazards without being distracted.
From competing at rallies we have made numerous doggie and human friends and feel lucky to be part of such a great group of people. It is definitely worth the early mornings and travelling miles around the country.
Ruby and Monty have been very successful as a 2 dog team, winning Fastest Malamute Newcomer Team at Aviemore 2011 and winning the Alaskan Malamute Working Association 2 Dog Team Championship for 2011/2012. For the 2012/2013 season we moved up to a class as Hudson joined the team. And in our first season as a 3 dog team we came second in the ABSA (Affiliated British Sleddog Activities) Championship! We work our dogs for pleasure but it makes us very proud when they do well in competition.