Friday it finally snowed enough that I could actually slide the sled runners over the ground with one hand on the handlebar, so I was over-excited to get a chance to hook up the dogs for some real sled-dog action! Discretion being the greater part of valor, though, I decided that three dogs would be enough to pull the sled, but not too much to get out of hand. Freya would be great in single lead with Bandit (powerhouse) and Yukon (all around great wheeldog) in wheel. Little did I realize that I was planning my very own snow bath.
Remember that I train on the mountain roads normally? Well my dogs didn't care that I was now hooked to a sled that was hooked to them, and meant to go down the meadow of my sideyard in a big loop, around the back in a big loop and back to the house. Simple? You would think that was a simple plan, however, Freya wasn't in on this plan. For her, harnesses mean go down the road!
As soon as I released the snub, Freya made a beeline for the road even though we were pointed down the hill. This yanked the brushbow sharply left, put the sled and I on a sharp right leaning incline, and this is where I realized that the handlebar would not hold me upright. To do all those e-mentors proud, I did not for once let go of the handlebar! Despite the snow in my face and packing in around the collar of my coat, I held on as if my life depended on it, and it very well might have if Freya managed to drag all of us up onto the road. Fortunately my deadweight and the weight of a sled on its side and the friction produced thereof was enough to stop 3 dogs, but not until after a lot of frantic 'Whoa's!' and 'Gee Freya! Gee! GeeeEEEEE!'
Showered and cleaned up from Friday, I was ready Saturday, or so I thought. I'll put Freya and Moony together, they need some run time as a team. No one told Freya, and she decided to play hard to get. Princess on the otherhand was whining and jumping, touching her nose to mine (quite a feat considering she barely touches my nose with hers while I'm standing straight up) to let me know that she didn't get to go Friday and absolutely would hate me if she didn't get to go Saturday morning. Bucky too was rather insistant, telling me he was not happy being left out Friday.
Knowing I was going to regret it, but visions of my success running Princess and Freya on the bike trails bolstered my confidence. Princess had done very well listening to commands and did great on turns, so I hoped she would be able to show Moony the right way to go. So with Princess and Moony in lead and Bucky and Yukon in wheel, we... took a sharp left and headed for the road!....
Same incline, same patch of snow scrubbed from the ground, only this time, I had a line running from me to the snubline, so even though the handlebar twisted from my grip, I still had the dogs pulling on me. I dug my heels into the tufts of grass sticking out of the snow and strained to keep from being dragged onto the pavement long enough to have James come and lead the dogs back down the hill. Unfortunately, James didn't know to keep the gangline taught and walk the dogs in a circle. Instead, he turned them back on eachother so by the time he got the dogs facing downhill they were in a hopeless tangled ball. Quite a feat for just 4 dogs.
So I had James stand on the brake and drag while I untangled the tugs and ganglines, but as soon as I turned back to the sled, they turned for the road. "GEE Princess! GEE!" Oh why do I bother?
Another twenty minutes and Jim stood on the brake while I turned the dogs downhill and started to lead them through the field with Jim on the runners. When Princess finally got it that we wanted to run on the grass, she took off with JIM on the runners! "Hang on to the handlebar no matter what!" I yelled after him. He made it about 200 yards, the best run yet! A low-hanging branch was his undoing. I'll give him credit, though, he didn't let go! I ran after him and grabbed the sled, righted it and stood on the brake while I made sure he was still alive. Princess was screaming to go now that she got it, and I couldn't hold them for long. I let them go and they made it the rest of the way to the bridge when I tried to get her to turn left.
Now that the road was in front of her, she didn't want to go left. It took a lot of coaxing and James to finally get her to turn around back on the meadow where we finally got going all the way back.... to the house... 'Haw! Princess, Haw!" I might as well have been yelling to myself, either that or Princess only heard 'Fish! Princess, Fish!'
With a bruised and battered crew of humans, but a happy crew of dogs, we trundled back in to the house to feed the dogs their fish snacks and unharness them.
A short time later I caught Bandit in Jim's new chair: