Friday, October 24, 2008

Awesome Training Run

It has been a rather interesting day thus far. A few days ago two horses belonging to an acquaintance of mine were shot, killing one and wounding the other. You can read about the event on the Ruff Start Kennel Blog.

I spent an hour or more composing a flurry of Emails attempting to contact anyone affiliated with the Borough who might be able to instigate some action toward an investigation of the incident. The Borough's animal control chief is away until Monday, and his supervisor recently resigned. I had no idea who that supervisor's replacement is, so finally ended up sending an Email to the Borough mayor. I am pleased to report that the mayor's special assistant returned my Email very quickly with a description of action that has begun or soon will be taking place.

Following the E-mail flurry, I started loading the team to go on a training run from Lynn Orbison's yard. It was an EXCELLENT run At this time last year were just getting a good start into the early season training, and were running only about 4 miles or so. Today we did double that distance and team could have easily given me a few miles more without so much as a 'gesundheit'. They had to cope with several different distractions during the run, and they did so like old pros. I am very proud of their performance. today.

The only frustration of the day is that I can't get my piece of crap snowmachine to start. It's pissed me off to the point of near rage, as I would really like to break out my feeder trail so the compressed snow can set up in the coming cold snap. Maybe I'll put a heater on it and try to start it again later this evening.

In any event, here is today's entry in my training journal.

10/24/08, Friday: 8.2 miles on four-wheeler. Conditions ranged from packed powder to deep powder on frozen dirt. Lynn’s to PV Rd to Baseline to quartering big field beyond Aliy’s house to Baseline to Swenson’s field, past Swenson’s yard to PV rd to Lynn’s.
Max speed 13.3 mph
Average speed 10.2 mph

Torus & Beau (lead)
Grace & Poncho* (swing)
Rose & Carpe’* (team)
Seamus & Nels (team)
Sheenjek & Gump (wheel)

*Poncho and Carpe' belong to Donna Thompson. Beau was given to me by Donna's son, Logan.

It’s worth noting that seven of the front 8 dogs are either leaders or leaders in training.

Beau and Torus were potty-mouthed with each other as we launched, and I was concerned I’d have to stop and change leaders, but they finally came to some sort of agreement. In that process the gangline went slack enough that Grace became tangled in her neck line. By then we were on Pleasant Valley Road and there was a truck coming toward us, so I elected to pass the truck before stopping to fix the neckline. The driver was Ric Swenson. (Y'all have heard of him, I imagine. The world's only 5-time Iditarod champion). Ric pulled well over and stopped while we went by and since I knew he wouldn't do anything terribly distracting to the dogs I was comfortable stopping almost immediately after the picture-perfect pass to deal with Grace’s issue.

The team faced several distractions today, yet performed exceptionally well in spite of them. We had a same direction pass with a pedestrian on baseline (cued with "gee by"), and then fell in behind another four-wheeler team just as we passed Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore's place. Since my dogs are freighting types rather than racers I was rather surprised to find I had the faster team and was contemplating calling for trail, but decided to slow my guys down for a bit instead. I let them ‘chase’ until we reached the ‘gee’ off baseline and into the big field. I cued the turn and was actually surprised when my entire front end went into the turn without so much as glancing at the other team.

I noticed a brand new house going up near the ‘quartering’ intersection of the trail, but thought little of it. I called the “haw” and dogs hit the unbroken side trail without issue. That’s when I saw the horses, four or five of them ranging from a relatively small painted horse to a huge draft animal, contained behind only a single strand of electrical fencing right next to the trail. The horses were all lined up along the fence, watching as we raced past but not spooking or showing any sign of concern at all. Several of my dogs looked toward the horses, but none of them so much as stepped out of line.

We came back around the end of the field and then back up to Baseline where we saw the same pedestrian, this time passing him head on. I cued “haw by” and the dogs again responded perfectly. Poncho, Rose and Nels are all relatively shy dogs and tried to run far to the left to avoid the stranger, but none of them broke stride or balked. I stopped the team for just a couple of minutes to converse with they guy, who is professional colleague of mine.

At the Grange Hall Rd. intersection we had a head on pass with a snow machine, and it was much the same story. The dogs ran past without so much as a second glance. A couple of hundred yards beyond the machine Grace had some difficulty trying to “poop on the run” and was running slack and even neck-lining for couple of hundred yards before she figured it out. Once she did she finished her business and got right back into her tug-line.

Several of the dogs were curious about the dogs in Ric Swenson’s yard as we ran past, but all of them ran past without threatening to visit. Back on Pleasant Valley Road the team gave me a “sprint for home” starting at about Wilbur Rd and ending when we reached the truck in Lynn’s yard.

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