We are primarily a sledding kennel, though we also have produced several Best in Show dogs, and have finished many AKC & international champions. Our dogs are happiest when they get out on the trail and explore what’s around the next bend. Depending on the season and trail conditions, we do both ‘dryland’ training with an ATV or quad, and run our dogs on a sled team once there is sufficient snow to use a snow hook (anchor) to hold a team while ganglines are adjusted.
We start our puppies in harness around 9-12 months depending on the season (generally we don’t run during the summer months). The first few runs are short and we keep it fun for everyone. Team running is very different than an individual dog doing weight pulling as the weight is distributed over 6-8 dogs. For weight pulling or carrying a pack, it’s best to let the Alaskan Malamute puppy mature and wait until 24 months.
Our favorite time of the year for sledding is early spring when the trails are covered in ‘corn’ snow and well-packed, allowing us to go across meadows and explore side trails without having to break trail through deep snow. Spring is also when our racing season is over and we are not on a strict training schedule with our Alaskan Husky racing team. Instead, we combine our Alaskans and Malamutes and do some leisurely trips around the northern Sierra, sometimes overnighting at a friend’s cabin near a lake and then heading home the next day. We pack supplies for camping and carry straw for the dogs to sleep on.
When we first began training, we used a ’sand cart’ designed to run on beaches on the Oregon coast. It had a terrible brake & slick tires that would barely slow a small team going down a mountain trail. More than 4 malamutes constituted a death wish—especially at the start when the dogs are so excited. After a few seasons, we upgraded to an ATV for better control when running larger teams.