Skijoring Equipment

Getting ready to go!

This is the first time since the winter of 97-98 that I have not gone to Texas and with Jack running in early trials (Possibly March and definitely the first week in April) I have been working on getting him and LJ in shape. We haven’t had much snow this winter but what snow we’ve have had has melted and frozen a number of times making it so conditions are often very crusty which can really cause problems with pads. On days when it warms and the snow turns to soft corn snow we’ve been letting the dogs run. When it stays cold and the snow remains hard during the day we’ve been skijoring. So I thought those of you who live in the snowbelt might find some more details about skijoring of interest.

First off a good skijoring belt is crucial. Mine is heavily padded and about five inches wide. It has a strap coming off both hips that you hook the tug line to. It really distributes the force of the pulling dogs and makes it easy to maintain balance. The main tug line is also important and for skijoring there are two important features a quick release close enough to you so that you can detach from the dogs instantly if needed. Only had to use it once when I had two dogs go after a grouse that blew out of a snow roost right in front of them they followed it into a softwood stand. They didn’t get very far before the tug lines hung them up. the other needed feature is a stout section of bungee cord that absorbs the shocks from the dogs pulling and not pulling as you go up and down hill. Although you can go with one dog at a time, I like to do two as I’m 200+ pounds and I also think they get a little competitive when they’re running side by side. One other piece of equipment that keeps the dogs on track is a short line between the dogs so they pretty much have to go in the same direction.

Harnesses: Although I have used the traditional roading harness for skijoring I think that sled dog harnesses work better. They are open at the shoulder and allow for more freedom of motion. The red harness that LJ is wearing in the pictures is a traditional sled dog harness. Jack’s is what the harness maker referred to as a “split chest harness” this harness makes allowance for the more pronounced sternum of the pointing dogs as compared to sled dogs. Most of the sites that sell harnesses have diagrams showing you how to measure your dog for a harness.

The blue harness that Jack has on came from Nook Sack Racing in Oxford, ME. and is a split chest harness. Tony and I drove over with Jack and Deuce and had Kathy a Nook Sack measure them. I had the harnesses in the mail before the end of the week. I have also bought skijoring gear from Kondo Outdoors in Ely, MN. I have the harnesses and lines to hitch four dogs together but would want more snow and a well groomed snow machine trail to run four. Yoo don’t want to have too many tight corners if you are going to be running full speed with four bird dogs.

Jack and LJ at a full run pulling me on skis as we head out for a training run.

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