We’ve met quite a few husky owners who, once they see how much fun we get up to with our pack, ask us how we got into sledding and if we can give them tips on how to get their own pups into this sport.
We never intended to be mushers, or husky owners really, but once we got Draco and then Lola and then Juno, we decided we needed a good way to exercise them and since we live where there’s so much snow, a sled would be the way to go.
When we began looking into sleds, it was a bit overwhelming. As complete novices we had no idea about the different kinds of sleds, which one would best suit our needs or really anything about dog sledding. Neither of us even really watched the Iditarod until after we started sledding ourselves, so we went into it totally blind.
Luckily we emailed back and forth with a few of the sled makers and got a ton of our newbie questions answered. We settled on buying our first sled from Maine Made Sleds, who are now retired, mostly because they were so very helpful getting us set up. Plus their sleds are top notch.
There are quite a few sled makers, and the racers love companies like Danler. Affordable Sleds is a good place to get a starter sled at a reasonable price, but if you want higher quality you may want to look at Adanac or one of the others I’ll be linking to in the sidebar on this blog.
We can’t recommend what we don’t know, so if you find a used sled from Maine Made you wouldn’t be sorry if you can get it at a decent price. Our sled it top notch and we’re sad that they’re no longer in business because we really enjoyed chatting with the owner. She helped us so much as novice mushers.
We also learned quite a bit just meeting and talking to other mushers. We go to the local races and try to meet as many as we can and we also know some folks who worked with Iditarod musher Jessie Royer. So we pick their brains, too. Google has a ton of helpful articles, videos and general advice on places like Reddit.
Mostly, though, just remember that huskies are bred to pull a sled and it does come quite naturally to most of them. Work with your puppy or dog on the commands when you take your normal walks by using “gee” and “haw” and “on by” and help them get used to being on the harness by putting it on and off and hooking them to a taut line once in awhile just to condition them to waiting patiently.
Or to try to teach them that, at least. Once a husky knows they’re going to be pulling, they go a bit crazy and there’s not much you can do about it except harness that energy and put it to good use on the ice.
I’ll ask the hubs if he wants to do a video showing exactly how we harness, hook up and train our pack when we’re out mushing. He can also go over how we make our lines and how he sets up the entire configuration depending on conditions and season (we dry mush with our buggy in the off season).
Hopefully he’ll agree and we can get that posted soon! Until then, if you have any questions, even if you come across this post in five years from now, drop a comment here and we’ll try to help you out.