Due to human health issues and hospital visits, we haven't really had a set 'plan' for attending events this working season, just getting the dogs out and making sure they are happy, content and well exercised and taking each day at a time. Right now, we feel life is too short for spending time on motorways every weekend travelling to events. We have still attended at least two working events a month and taken part in events in Scotland, 'up North' and Suffolk but we have concentrated on getting the miles up more locally, happily we have four training permits permits that we use for forests in the West Country and South Wales so we can still enjoy a variety of trails for the dogs this season and we are averaging about 8-10 miles a run, but we have been focusing on attending events with good, fun trails that are only a couple of hours away or events that mean that we can return home after running which feels like an absolute luxury! Just to be able to come home, wash kit, cook a meal and the dogs sleep in their own beds at home, before their their second day run has been really wonderful. It has actually been one of the most enjoyable seasons we have had with the dogs.
We opened February with a 16 plus mile trek event with AMWA race organisation, at a beautiful private estate venue just up the road in Wiltshire. The estate was gorgeous with the added fun of the venue being used to breed pheasants so there was lots of open pheasant pens which kept things interesting. Nothing like a bit of pheasant turbo! We saw lots of deer too and it was just lovely to run the dogs amongst beautiful scenery and seeing the wildlife, it is fun just to be out with the dogs, following a marked trail over a longer distance. The trails were mainly grassy but uneven and were holding a lot of water so it was quite hard going for the dogs with the passenger rig which, with the added weight does sink into the ground and get stuck in ruts more than a light rig. There was also some hard packed trail and this is where it's super great to have the passenger rig and being able to control the speed. We like to mix the teams up during our run and we all enjoy a refreshment stop midway and the dogs did great. The second day of the event we were not blessed weather wise with storm Ciara which increased the temps and humidity as well as very strong winds so we scratched the run but the dogs were happy and content after their run on the Saturday and we all spent a rare lazy day on the sofa.
Started February with a jam packed calendar full of planned events which worked out we were doing an event every weekend and some of the events would mean a 10 hour round trip in the van. So we have decided to change plans and have a more relaxed month with just the three events planned a bit more local and in between, weekends away camping and running dogs at our favourite place in Wales at Pembrey Forest. Its about a two hour drive from us and an easy drive on good roads, trails are fabulous and we have the added bonus of being next to the beach where we can relax with the dogs after lovely runs.
Parts of the trail at Pembrey are quite flooded with our usual start completely underwater so we did our usual route in reverse and we just had 'puddles', doing the trail in reverse was really good training for the dogs and think we will mix things up when the trails dry out for the future and alternate between doing the trails in reverse and the usual route. We had a nice 5 mile run on grass and sand dunes which makes a really good work out for the dogs. A good thing about these type of challenges is that it makes you think about approaching things differently and the challenge of underwater trails was a great example of that and turning a negative into a positive!
Working season is always busy but we managed to squeeze in a weekday show under breed specialist judge Julie Foard (Bifrost) at Manchester Champ show. We entered Mars and it was his first show since Crufts due to his illness due to swallowing something he shouldn't have, so we wanted a nice easy day and he placed reserve in a really nice quality limit class. Also on the show front I (Lou) was invited to judge at the Northern Dog Show in Middlesborough so we took the 6 hour road trip up and I enjoyed my day judging the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute and junior handling classes. This followed the news that I had progressed on the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain judging list from a c list to a B list Siberian Husky breed specialist judge.
On our way back home from the show, on the Sunday we entered a race with AMWA at Sherwood forest to give our guys a nice leg stretch. We enjoy the trails at Sherwood which offer twisty turny, leafy trails to hardpacked to grass in a beautiful forest. Matt ran a two dog with seppala people Mars and Zinny who rampaged the trail to first place and a two minute lead on second place and a 4 dog all bitch veteran team with the gorgeous Kara, Cassidy, Pickle and Laika our lovely girls, beat the six and eight dog team times at this race. More importantly than results, we had a lovely weekend spending time on different trails with happy, sleddogs doing their thing!
Northern Dog Show January 25th 2020 Critique
Thank you to the committee for the invitation to judge and to the exhibitors for the privilege of their entry on a busy weekend for the Siberian Husky community.
1 Richardson’s Blizzardrun Dream Chaser For Starlegend
Black and white 11 month old female, attractive foxy head, medium size and very balanced for age with good length to height and super angulation front and back. Light footed and sound on the move. A very nice girl and an excellent future prospect. Well deserved, RBOB and BP and pleased to see her win working puppy group 3.
Red and white
2 Copland’s Liareedon I’ve Got This
Red and white, 8 month old female with a feminine head and sweet expression, obliquely set almond eyes. Correct double coat. Very well handled and presented to best advantage. Tidy movement but did not have the reach and drive of first place today.
Post Graduate 2/0
1 Richardson’s Salazka's Thunderbird At Starlegend
Black and white, handsome 2 year old male, loved his foxy head, correct ear set and mischevious expression, very well angulated front and rear with a beautiful, correct double coat. Enjoying his day, he had positive movement. Nice boy.
2 Copland’s Liareedon I’ve Got This
Redwood’s Jubilee Flotilla
7 year old classy, grey and white boy with typical foxy head, well-placed shoulder, great depth of chest, nicely sloping pasterns, good medium size, with moderate bone, beautiful, correct double coat and in super body condition, he has matured beautifully. Powerful movement, effortless, true and positive. BOB. Pleased to see him go on to win best working veteran and working group 3.
After ending 2019 with a 35 mile trek we decided to start 2020 with a sprint race event with BSHRA on some of our favourite trails in the UK at Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk. We have been doing a lot of slow, heavy, longer distance training preparing for the trek distances so it was nice to mix things up and enter the shorter sprint race and those same dogs achieving very respectable results in the bike, scooter and two dog classes. Mars and Zinny as a two dog, charged into sixth place at BSHRA from a class entry of thirty teams at Rendlesham averaging 14.74 MPH over a distance of 2.8 miles, after Zinny placing 1st in bikejor averaging 15.74 MPH over 4 miles and Mars 2nd in the scooter the previous day. Super veteran Kara Muffin placed third in Scooter on the Sunday and you can see a short clip of her run below.
Full results here
Video by Shane Wilkinson of our team 18 miles in of the 25 miles completed on the second day of the trek. Dogs pulled over 30 stone, over 30 miles over the two day trek with AMWA.
The beginning of December saw a trip to Darnaway race and a stay at Aviemore for Mars in Scotland with his Janskcoo pals to run with the Scottish Sleddog Association. This was a nice break away with the added benefit of Mars having a nice sprint run on the exhilarating trails of Darnaway where he achieved with his pals a second place in the four dog class against great competition!
The rest of the month saw us continuing to clock up the miles and train for the Christmas Salisbury Trek with AMWA The alaskan malamute working association. In 2013 we ran the trek doing 23 miles in a day but under really extreme windy, sleet and torrential rain weather conditions and we chose not to run a second day in the same weather conditions.
This year the team ran a total of 35 miles along Salisbury Plain, the home of Stonehenge, the military use the plain to train on with their tanks. The plain consists of 300 square miles of undefined grass trails which the teams navigate through lots of tough terrain in an area the size of Isle of Wight! The reason we like the treks is that we can both go out on the passenger rig, taking turns to run the dogs and to utilise a different venue to get more distance and spend more time with our dogs. Running on undefined trails, dogs pulling a heavier load in tough conditions really brings a different experience to running the dogs compared to the UK traditional short sprint races that we also all enjoy. Any 'title' achieved is incidental really but deserves a mention and our Six dog team achieved their silver working titles after running the 35 miles over two days.