An Introduction to Husky Racing
Skinner’s spoke to Richard Morgan who first started husky racing in 1991 to find out what the sport is all about. Richard started racing when he got his second husky, and went along to a race to see what it was all about. After entering a novice teach-in event in Wales, he was hooked and is still competing in the sport to this day.
A background of husky racing
Husky racing is a sport which has evolved from thousands of years work between humans and huskies. Huskies were the main source of transport for native people from the north, these people were dependent on huskies for protection, companionship, hunting trapping and most importantly transportation. Huskies have played a vital role in bringing civilisation to the snowbound areas of the world.
Racing huskies is more of a recent activity, having evolved from using the dogs as a means of transport. Dog teams used during the Alaska gold rush were raced from about 1907 in what was called the All Alaska Sweepstakes. These races were started as a result of owners constantly debating who had the best dog team, hence they decided to arrange races to prove the point. Huskies are extremely tough and strong minded, they can withstand hunger and cold well as they were often left to fend for themselves on isolated islands during the summer months.
How does a husky race work?
A race or a (rally) will usually allow entries for different classes (team sizes) these are typically:
- B Class: 5-6 dog teams
- C Class: 3-4 dog teams
- D Class: 2 dog teams
- E Class: 2-3 dog teams
Dependant on trail types and facilities other classes for junior competitors, veteran dog teams, scooter classes may be put on. Scooter classes consist of a single dog pulling a rider on a scooter, these are specially built for this purpose
Each team collects points for winning, which can then mean they go onto winning a club championship for your class at the end of each season.
Teams pull a wheeled rig around a set course with the driver (musher) standing on the rig, unless there is snow in which case sleds would be used. Courses are usually run on forest type trails. In each class teams are allocated a start time and are set off individually up to three minutes apart and are timed around the course.
The teams with the fastest times around the course in each class win. Events usually have two heats for each class run over two days, so the finish time is the combined total for the two days.
How much exercise do huskies need?
Huskies need as much exercise as they can get, and this involves running them in training as a team just as you would when racing. Richard races his dogs 2-3 times a week, even during the summer off season if temperatures are low enough, this can mean early starts from 5am-6am in the morning to ensure the temperature is right.
Where does husky racing take place?
Did you know that husky racing does actually take place in the UK?
Want to attend and watch a husky race? Check out this calendar of where you can find an event near you: