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Published By Todd Lucier on January 14th, 2014 in Edge Insider
Dog sledding is a sport that involves a harmonious relationship between dogs and musher. Note that I said musher, not rider . . . and the key to any good relationship is understanding one another. Having a good command of dog sledding terminology and language will help a musher get the most out of his/her dog sled team.
Dog sledding vocabulary word 1: Musher. a Musher drives the sled.
In dog sledding if the musher focuses solely on riding on the sled behind his dogs he’ll get a few unhappy looks back from the team – especially on hills. Occasionally the musher helps the team by bicycling or peddling the sled and sometimes running alongside so that the team doesn’t have to work too hard. Dog sledding with Ed Schmidt and his Sugardogs with Northern Edge Algonquin is a shared endeavour between musher and dogs who together make up the team.
As driver, the operator of the sled is essentially the Alpha Dog on the team and communicates commands to the team using a vocabulary that is easy for dogs to understand. Incidentally, a dog sled operator rarely (if ever) uses the word ‘Mush’ to encourage his team to get going. The word is too soft in indistinctive to get any attention from the team. Mush is not a dog sled command.
Mushers usually don’t have a hard time getting their dog sled team moving anyway. The dogs are super excited and ready to run – all the time!
Giving the dog sled team directions. Dog Sled Commands
The words used to command a dog sled team are usually sharp and distinctive and can be heard above the noise of the sled and/or the sound of barking dogs. The exclamation point on these dog sled commands is there to indicate the words are given as commands, not simply spoken.
Dog sledding command 1: Hike! Means let’s get moving (“All Right” is sometimes also used.)
Dog sledding vocabulary command 2: Gee! This word is used to command the dog sled team to turn to the right or follow the trail on the right.
Dog sledding vocabulary command 3: Haw! indicates Go left.
Dog sledding vocabulary command 4: Easy! Slow down.
Dog sledding vocabulary command 5: Whoa! Stop.
Listen to Ed Schmidt talk about how he got started dog sledding and what it’s like being a dog sled operator at Algonquin Park and in the Almaguin Highlands.
Watch a little dog sledding video shot on Kawawaymog Lake, Algonquin Park.