I just had to share my experiences of one of the most
exhilarating weekends I have had in a while. Actually,
I have had a lot of wonderful working-Samoyed weekends
this summer but this one tops it! Karen Ramstead, a
purebred Siberian Iditarod racer, had a fall training
warm-up weekend this Labor Day long weekend and she
invited people to head up to her place for a fun weekend
of food, learning and of course, mushing training! It
was an absolutely wonderful weekend!
I learned so much this weekend and it was great to see
so many fantastic teams there with such wonderful
mushers! Karen was an incredible hostess and I have no
idea how she can handle 29 people and kids running her
dogs - yes she allowed us all to take her Iditarod-class
dogs out with a scooter - training with her own teams,
entertaining, cooking, 90 additional dogs not including
65 of her own, playing with her puppies (she has three
litters on the ground right now) and still staying
sane! She was truly an amazing woman and hostess!
Actually, her husband Mark deserves a lot of credit too
since it is very cool how he supports her "habit" so
wonderfully with all the work he does with the dogs and
all the cooking he did in addition to what Karen did.
There were two definite highlights for me. The first
that I wanted to share was that I had the opportunity to
ride an ATV along while Karen worked with her puppy
team. That was an excellent experience. I was able to
watch how she worked with her young puppies, helped them
through their problems, put them in situations so that
they could work through them and just watch how she
interacted with her dogs. I was amazed at their power
and strength, even though it was only a short fall
training run, it was still incredible to see them at
work - even if they were not Samoyed! <g>
The other highlight was the privilege to run Nakoda with
a true Iditarod sled dog! Karen was kind enough and
trustful enough to allow me to hook up Nakoda with one
of her dogs, Holly (hopefully I spelled that right). I
have had a lot of fun working with dogs from around our
area last winter but it has soured Nakoda a little bit.
Well, this was just a fantastic experience for Nakoda
and I think she enjoyed the privilege as much as I did.
I have never, ever seen her run in harness like that
before and I am not sure if it was the lack of
experience of the dogs that normally run with her, the
difference in structure or fitness levels of the Sammies
she normally runs with or what but she absolutely
flew!!! It was breathtaking for me! I went back on my
GPS readings this morning and we had readings over 20
mph - maybe normal for a Sibe but pretty good for a
Sammy from what I have heard. I am even more excited by
the fact that there were only two dogs pulling the
scooter on a soft, sandy trail with lots of moderate
hills and I had the brakes on for most of the run! We
ended up doing just under 2 miles with an average speed
of about 6 mph including two breaks and a wrong turn.
Throughout the entire run, there were only 3 times that
I had to put on the brakes a little more to get Nakoda's
tug line tight but then, I had to do it a couple of
times for Holly too. It was just an absolutely awesome
experience for Nakoda and me!!!!
As another fun note, it was definitely interesting to
have the only Samoyed there out of 155 dogs present.
There were Alaskans, Mal's and Sibe's as well. I would
guess that about 90% were Siberians with about 4 or five
Malamutes, my little Nakoda and the rest being
Alaskans. I actually ended up running Nakoda with
Sibe's all weekend just to make things fun for her since
since that was a major goal of mine for the two of us.
I found it to be a very good match but the real cool
thing about this was to be able to observe the
difference in how these two breed of dogs is built. I
am always trying to learn and it was fun to see how a
Siberian goes from a trot to a lope and then a full run
while a Samoyed goes from a trot to a run. It was also
cool to see Nakoda keep up to a loping Siberian while
she was still trotting - I hadn't thought that would be
possible until I saw it with the two running ahead of
me. Obviously, when Holly or the other Sibe Nakoda ran
with the rest of the weekend, picked up the pace, Nakoda
would go into a full run but it was pretty cool to see
how well matched she was with the Sibes she ran with.
Anyway, hopefully this tempts your ambitions in the
future and maybe we'll see some of you out this way next
year - so I won't be the only Samoyed owner there! I
saw quite a few large teams there (more than half a
dozen dogs in a team) and everyone was absolutely
wonderful. Every single musher I spoke with was very
encouraging to me, even though I had and "odd" breed
there. Every single team was great, some still learning
but still very good as far as teams I have seen goes.
The gamut of mushers ranged from kids and people just
doing it for fun to the professional mushers and all
were just as friendly and helpful as the next. I can't
recommend this weekend highly enough as a great kick off
to fall training!
I hope all of you have a wonderful fall and have fun
working with your Samoyeds!