Saturday, January 16, 2010
By Suzanne Alicie
They say curiosity killed the cat. In my case, curiosity only bruised my hind parts. Thanks to the recent snowfall on the East Coast I had a chance to try out skijoring with my dog. A Samoyed breed, she loves the snow and cold. I on the other hand, would rather be in the warm house. Having read up a little bit on skijoring, I decided I had to give it a try.
For those who haven’t heard of skijoring, it is a sport for a person and a dog. The person straps on skis and has their ski poles while the dog is placed in a harness which is attached to the person’s waist. I didn’t go out and get any special equipment just to test this. I used our walking harness and attached the leash to my belt with a clip.
So I wrapped up and got us both all hitched together, then let her pull me along the driveway. Everything went well, as long as we were moving. Once she stopped I kept right on going, ending up in a pile of snow with my big white dog looking at me like I had lost my mind. I am blaming that on the icy surface of the snow, not myself or the dog.
Skijoring is not an experience I will be repeating; however, many people spend hours every day honing their skill and forming a bond with their skijoring partner. Skijoring requires a great deal of skill, training and trust between the person and the dog.
Skijoring is a very popular sport for dog owners in the colder climates, where it is a competitive sport including slalom, obstacles and both sprint and long runs. Of course, skijoring is aimed at cross country skiing, and not downhill! There are several companies that specialize in skijoring equipment, dog training and tournaments. Skijoring is also done with horses, and motor vehicles such as snowmobiles. The name skijoring is from a Norwegian word that means ski driving. Some variations of skijoring include snowboarding with a dog to pull you, and even skijoring on grassy fields instead of snow.
The most common dogs for skijoring are athletic and herding breeds such as pointers and setters. All the northern breeds such as Samoyeds, Huskies and Malamutes are naturally inclined and enjoy this sport. But if you are interested in skijoring, pretty much any mid to large sized energetic breed will be capable of pulling you. The dogs that compete in skijoring competitions are trained with the person on foot initially. To be a successful skijoring dog, the animals must learn to pass another dog without stopping to greet them.
If you are in a cold climate and enjoy cross country skiing, you may appreciate the sport of skijoring as a way to spend more time with your dog and to form a closer bond with him as well. Skijoring is excellent exercise for your dog as well as a way to expend excess energy and advance your dog's trained behavior. The training learned for skijoring will carry over in your dog’s everyday living, much the same as the military bearing of a soldier is noticeable even when he isn’t in uniform.
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie