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> Dog Mushing 101, For those that know nothing.
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Swanny 
Posted: 23-Aug-2006, 10:58 AM
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Hi Dogshirt. I was starting to wonder whether you had burned your steaks or just like your meat very well done wink.gif.

I've studied eighteenth and nineteenth century dog mushing as thoroughly as I can being restricted to published primary documents such as fur-trade journals, business accounts, and so forth. (I'm a reenactor specializing in the Northwest fur-trade). You are correct - leather was the material of choice prior to the very late nineteenth century. Back then the most common hitch was a tandem hitch, and "traces" ran parallel along both sides of the dogs to the sled. As people shifted to the modern Alaska hitch (double tandem, dogs running in pairs side by side) rope apparently became more common.

Although the bridles on both of my sleds are rope (I purchased both of them used), my ganglines are cable, and everyone I run with uses cable for their ganglines. These cables are made in six foot sections with a loop on each end so they can be easily lengthened or shortened to accommodate the size of the team. Every one that I have seen in use is covered in either rope or plastic coated so dog's tongues won't stick to 'em in the cold and I believe that is listed as an equipment standard by P*R*I*D*E. Most everyone is using bronze snap swivels but I've noticed that a fair number of long distance mushers have gone back to using toggles instead. I'm not sure why and since I noticed it during the midst of a race I didn't really get an opportunity to ask the reasoning behind the preference. It does seem to be more prevalent among the Canadians than the Americans, though.

Although Cold Spot stocks cable tuglines, I've never seen anyone using them and some of 'em on the shelves are looking kind of rusty. 1/4" or so nylon rope seems to be the preference for tugs and that is what I use. It seems logical that if you are running cable mainline you need to stick to nylon for tugs just in case you have to cut dogs loose in a tangle or fight.

That's a nifty tip about removing the tugs to reduce power, I doubt I would have ever thought of that on my own. I have used runner chains for those conditions though, and I found they work pretty good (nothing is perfect). It is pretty rare for us to see such a sheet of ice on a downhill grade up here, but we are blessed with excellent trails and usually with pretty nice snow quality.

I just got off work yesterday, and much of my focus during this R&R is to get my gear ready for dirt work. We may even take some small teams out for dirt runs as the weather is very cool. I've already heard of some distance racers running their guys on the trails with four wheelers.

Today I have to run some errands in town (Yuck) and while there I need to stop at the shelter. Once of my Second Chance League contacts told me there are some dogs I NEED to look at there, including an older leader from the Denali Park team, and a pair of her "pups". The leader is 9 and the pups 7 years old, but Carol says they are all healthy, happy and have lots of "run" left in 'em. They sound like a good foundation for a small rec team. .

Swanny






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stevenpd 
Posted: 21-Sep-2006, 11:07 AM
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Now, how about the sleds?


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Swanny 
Posted: 25-Sep-2006, 09:14 AM
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Steve, rather than invent the wheel I'll refer you to The Anatomy of a Dog Sled page on the Ultimate Iditarod Site.

The only thing I disagree with on that page is their description of the "track or drag". Most typically in Alaska the drag is made of a piece of used and worn out snow machine drive track. They state it's used to as a second braking mechanism, but that isn't entirely accurate. It's used to create resistence to control the sled. It doesn't provide enough resistence to actually slow or stop a team except in rather unusual circumstances.

Many mushers don't use a drag mat at all on their racing sleds, just drag their heels or feet when a bit more resistence is needed.

Swanny
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stevenpd 
Posted: 22-Oct-2006, 12:13 PM
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Belated Thanks Swanny!

I wouldn't think that just a piece of snow track would stop anything in the snow. My understanding is like yours - its just helps in the control of the sled. I've also seen studded rubber mats but again, this won't stop anything. Not with 8 dogs pulling for all their might.
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