A shared effort within a strong relationship
As we already said, the dog sled sport is the only sport where man and dog share the same effort.
When the slope goes steep, the musher runs in the snow next to his dogs to relieve the sled from his weight and even pushes the sled at times in steeper hills.
In a downhill, he must manage the sled like a skier would, in order to control the changes of direction on a fast pace. On a flat ground, the musher « pedals » by balancing his body weight, he helps his dogs by pushing on one of his legs.
One voice : the master’s voice
Dogs once they are harnessed only obey to their master’s voice. It is of crucial importance that the musher has a perfect trust relationship with his dogs, particularly with his head dogs. Moreover, the objective being, despite of all, to go as fast as possible, everything relies on the dogs’ will. Will to run (they always have it). Will to outperform (they have it when they feel that the musher is happy and encourages them).
You have to ride a sled to understand the strong relationship that links the musher and his dogs. Is it only obedience? No… prove being that numerous very good mushers are women. Soft with their dogs, their voice intonation comforts them more easily than men’s voices, often deeper.
When asked: « What do you feel when you are on your sled in a race? », most mushers answer that they’re happy because they feel at one with their dogs.
When tiredness comes, more than any training, it is first and foremost the dogs’ will to outperform for their master which will make the difference.