Sunday, February 16, 2014

Working on "On By"

While heading up to the trailhead today I wasn't sure what was going to be our focus. We have no races in mind the rest of the season, so I thought we'd work on some sort of leader training. 

Once there I quickly determined wed be working on "on by". Four sets of trail users with dogs went by in a 5 minute span. 

I started with Paluk and Tensaw in lead but quickly switched Paluk out for Flier. Paluk in her old age doesn't have the speed to keep a line tight in front of Tank and Flier. 

We ended up having 7 passes with "free running" dogs and all were fairly successful with a least one on my leaders "on by-ing" the dog in each instance. They've improved a lot this season on many things, including this one. Good puppas! 

We ran about 6.5 miles and had a good time, beautiful day, switching between lightly snowing and blinding sunshine.

You may be wondering why we're down to a four dog team right now. On Tuesday we had Isis and Okie spayed. The two are doing great and I suspect Isis will be back running in the team by next weekend.  She's been hard to keep calm to heal.  But both are doing great.
Also yesterday was a fun run.  Nicki and I combined our teams (after loaning a dog each to another pair of mushers, Sonya and Colette) and tandemed our sleds for a run. We started with Flier and Tank in lead, and they did well at first, not balking at the fact that they were leading 8 dogs, but after a little while the stress of leading a large team started to show so we switched Nicki's experienced dogs Otter and Montana into lead.  Otter and Montana area new to leading her team this year and they did great!  Here are a few pics from Saturday:
Tensaw in wheel (right), Flier and Tank in swing.


Great team! (Tank and Flier in swing), Tensaw in wheel (left)

Tony skiing!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Building Confidence

I am a perfectionist. That doesn't always mix well with mushing. Each dog has its own personality. They aren't like a snow machine where you "ask" it to turn right and it always does. That's the beauty of the dog team. All the dogs and humans working together to get somewhere and when it works its beautiful. But sometimes it doesn't and it can be a mess and that is where I struggle. I get frustrated and frazzled in some situations and the dogs can sense it which makes it worse.

We had a bad run Saturday. The young musher was having a bad run, the dogs weren't having a good run and I wasn't, and tension wasn't making it any better. Luckily I had my friend Nicki along running a team too. She helped get me refocus. She suggested we do some training passes with my new leader. So we did and it was great. 

She also gave me a tip. Each run before we head out I should set a goal of what we want to accomplish.

Little musher along for the ride Saturday. 

I implemented that Sunday on our run and it went way better! So now my titles will reflect the goals. Nicki pointed out I have a very young leader (21 months) and he is doing great given his age and he's a male (they usually mature later). So Sunday I decided the goal would be confidence building.

And some of that confidence building was in myself too, that I can train my team well. I also need to remember that nothing is going to go perfectly and the mistakes the dogs and I make only teach us all where we need to improve. 

Tank and Flier leading. 

Good run!

Flier ready to get going!

Back to the truck!

Creek on our left sure looks pretty flowing under the snow. 

Good puppas!