A Brief Look at Urban Sledding

AUSTRALIA is a sunburnt country, a land with little snow.  Certainly, the image of a dog pulling a person along a trail is one most of us would associate with movies like Snow Dogs or documentaries on the Alaskan wilderness.  So when we encounter a sport such as Urban Sledding for the first time, our initial reaction can be one of curiosity or even scepticism.

It turns out that Australia is fortunate enough to possess some of the best Urban Sledding trails in the world, winding through wondrous native bushland, down fire trails and old dirt roads, through sand, stone and water.  The ride itself is exhilarating, rider and dog working as one to power up hills, while the dog is usually more than happy to pull both sled and rider down hills and along flats at speeds exceeding 30 km/h.

The competitive nature of the experience only adds to the challenge, and over time riders notice their dogs becoming leaner, stronger and more developed.  Their quadriceps begin to grow and their speed increases.  Racing against the clock along a timed course, the only real competitor is the previous time; to shave a second off here and there; to continuously improve.  Like any sport, it is addictive.

It beings at the break of daylight, when the air is still cold, mist is in the air and the birds singing in the trees.  Howls are heard around the campsite, for the dogs know the time is close and the moment they have been waiting for is about to arrive.  The riders rouse from their slumber with the energy of anticipation running through their veins.  The excitement is palpable.  A horn sounds; ten minutes to wait.

Riders check their dogs thoroughly, by stretching their muscles and examining their feet.  The dogs are carefully fitted into their customised harnesses, designed to pull from the chest and back rather than the neck, and once ready begin making their way down to the starting line.  A timing clock emits a loud beep.  One minute to go.  The howls and barking raise to a deafening cacophony as the dogs pull in their harnesses, riders gripping brakes to hold them back.  Then finally, after the long car trip, the camping, the waiting, the ten second timer counts down to zero, and finally… it’s time to run.

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Knox Obedience Dog Club Incorporated

 

Knox Obedience Dog Club

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