Monday, 12 April 2010

Let Havoc Reign!

This morning - I was creating havoc in my life - intentionally!

See for the last few years I've watched alot of mushers, many who I greatly respect, switch over to running dogs without necklines. Now I've always run without necklines on my leaders, but I'm talking about taking necklines off the WHOLE team.
I've talked at length to other mushers about this and even played with taking a few dogs off their necklines here and there, but always seem to retreat to the 'security' of having their collars hooked into the gangline. It's neat, it's orderly - and I like that in a dog team.

BUT many of the mushers that regularly run without necklines claim their dogs are happier and don't get injured as easily. If that is true, how can I deny my dogs that?

So this morning, as I was hooking up my 16 dogs I thought WTH (Remember - family friendly blog!!) and pair after pair was hooked up without necklines. I did keep necklines on the wheel dogs as a safety precaution (don't want them run over by the ATV if they happen to stop suddenly).

I will say, hook up was alittle disorganized, but not as bad as I feared!

We shot past Richard's team on out of the yard and things looked....well...just like they normally do!!

I'm not sure whether or not they did so well because they didn't realize the necklines weren't on or because they just didn't care - but they did great.

Whenever we stopped things would get alittle 'hairy'...

...but as soon as I called them up, everything straightened out without complication! Sweet!!!

At the end of the run things got alittle crazy back in the yard, but I'm certain that is a problem I can solve.
I think there is some merit in this concept and I'm pretty committed to seeing if I can make it work.

I have ordered a bunch of the 'saddle back' harnesses from wonderful Louise at These harnesses work really well with this 'neckline-less' system, as being shorter they allow you to use a shorter overall gangline and shorter tuglines giving the dogs all the benefits but a bit less 'room to roam' on breaks.

Of course, it seems like I may have to give up the concept of perfectly lined out teams - least for a while!

If it makes for healthier, happier dogs - I'm okay with that!



Sherry and Russ Sutherby said...

The pictures (which are great, BTW) do tell the story.

Have fun sorting it out and trying the new harnesses.

Looking forward to the updates!

Wulik Siberians said...

So glad to hear your comments about this concept... I was stunned when I noticed it with so many dogs this year in Iditarod. It must take good training, and a lot of GUTS to trust your good training, to be able to try it! I am definitely not there yet ; )
Keep up the good, and ever-improving work!!!

brenda said...

Karen I love the Saddle Back Harness. So glad that you had recommended them for working the dogs on the bike. Just might try the no neckline idea.

Bakavi said...

Scary, 16 dogs for the 1st time?
you are very brave.

Marlyn said...

Your wheel dogs in the next to last picture seem to be saying "WHAT is going on???" I also noticed it in the Iditarod and was surprised.

Annie said...

I LOVE it! I have been a supporter of skipping the neckline, or extending it with bungee for dogs who are co=operative & many enjoy the extra freedom with no down side.
Some dogs who are reluctant to run with a team do just fine without a neckline. Mind you, none of them (or us) are training for racing, but the recreational mushers all look to the racing community for guidance on training.

granimar said...

Oh My Karen, Since I'm not a dog driver of any kind and just a fan, I'll admit I really gulped when I saw you self created "havoc". I remember the dogs coming across Long Lake, not lined out, which sure didn't look very North Wapiti-ish. Glad the dogs are enjoying it and hope the training goes well [and you don't get muscle cramps in your jaw, trying to adjust !!!] Good luck with the new harnesses too.