Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Training 2010 Report

The Season Has Begun!

Fall training has started at Mushing Loon Kennels. We have several short runs under our belts, as the weather has allowed. Still running the mile loops around the farm, but we hope to get out and travel a bit real soon.

The dog boxes are now completed. For this morning's run, I decided to load the dogs for the short, 100 foot drive across the farm. Everyone understood the process - except for the puppy, Maggie. She was mad to be put in a box when she really thought we were going for a run!

The box works great for a staging area, prior to hook-up. And for Maggie, it can double as a band stand!

Today's run was the best of the young season. We are settling into a groove. The leaders and I are beginning to understand one another. It is a learning experience, mostly for me! But there is quite the feeling of oneness when calling out a command, watching the dog turn the right way, look back for confirmation, and then gleefully charging down the right trail! We DO speak the same language!

The musher is the weakest link in this team. I have more to learn than the dogs. They know how to run, I am learning how to drive them. I switched dogs around today while stopped on the trail - a first for me! I put Alice up next to her brother Nick, so they could run together. And while they enjoyed being side-by-side again, I had forgotten how easily she can control him! We stopped before going on the road, as there was a truck in the distance. Alice pulled Nick and the team to the road in the opposite direction, apparently telling them, "Hey guys, if we go this way, we can go home!" I got them back and put Ellen back up front with Nick. She had been complaining the entire time she wasn't in lead anyway. And I knew Alice doesn't like the pressure up front. It turns out that Ellen pacing us, with Nick who just wants to GO! is the best formation for us.
It was time for another rookie mistake. I'll just turn the team around on the trail by hand. I started leading the leaders past the stopped team. Oh, they didn't know they were supposed to wait and go in an orderly manner! I've seen tangles before, but this was my first one that involved the entire team! But that was soon fixed, and we were off. Lessons learned by the rookie musher again.

Then it was over and we were done. Trying to keep it short, so they all want more. Just over 2 miles today. They are getting stronger each run - it is fairly hilly here, and they have to pull me and the motor-less quad up the half-mile hill to the farm. Stronger and faster, longer and farther, these are the things that give us joy.