Skijoring is Norwegian for ski driving and dates back to the gold rush days in Scandinavian countries. It was also practiced in the United States before the automobile became popular, but there they used horses instead of dogs.
In Scandinavia, Skijoring is used as a training technique for Nordic-style mushing which combines one dog or more, a pulk (a small sled) and a skier. Although Nordic-style mushing competitions have been held in Norway since 1932, it wasn't until the 1980s that Skijoring caught on in North America.
Today in Canada, there are competitive Skijoring races held in conjunction with dog sled races, and recreational Skijoring is also gaining popularity. Although Nordic dogs were originally used, any dog over 30 pounds that likes to pull can learn Skijoring.
Basically, Skijoring combines one or two dogs in harness with a line that connects the skier to the dog(s). The most common harness is the X-back racing style harness and the skijoring line is usually about nine to eleven feet in length. The line can also have a portion of bungie cord incorporated to absorb some of the shock from starts and stops. The line runs from the dog's harness to a waist belt that sits either just below the skier's waist or on the hips. Depending on where the skijoring is taking place, the skis used may be either touring skis, skating skis or a shorter lighter ski.
Skijoring is a great way to get the feel of dog sledding and, if you've always wanted to try it but didn't have enough dogs or a sled to pull, then this is a sport that is definitely worth a try. Skijoring is also an excellent way to train a lead dog, as there is nothing but a line between you and your dog making it easier to make corrections. Whether your intentions are competitive or recreational, Skijoring is a great way to get out and enjoy some time with your dog(s) doing what they love to do, running and pulling!
- Cross-country skis, boots and poles
- Skijoring belt
- Skijoring line
- Harness for the dog
- One or two dogs that likes to pull and enjoy the cold
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