Training conditions have been perfect this October. Every SP Kennel dog -- except ChaCha (13 1/2 years), Bullet (12 1/2 years) and Nutmeg (10 1/2 years) -- are in harness on a planned weekly exercise schedule.
We have four manageable training teams right now. These teams are established mostly due to the ease of hooking up. In other words, the dogs in the rear of the yard: Driver, Iron, Amber, Clyde and Schmoe will be in the same team. The dogs in the front of the yard: Dutch, Scout, Boondocks, Lydia and Izzy will be in the same team. So, obviously this time of the year, our dogs are not differentiated into Varsity or JV teams. Experienced dogs, youngsters and "tweeners" are all still training together.
Since every dog -- young and old -- are training together, obviously they have different skills sets and abilities. The September and October SP Kennel exercise schedule is set up so that the least experienced dogs can succeed. This is accomplished by establishing an overall training schedule that very slowly increases in mileage and stays at a relatively slow speed. Not every dog learns at the same rate.
The reason that we do this 'conservative' approach is that we know who are "best dogs" were last season. Quito didn't win the Yukon Quest Golden Harness two years in a row on a fluke. So, she and her championship Yukon Quest teammates, Copper Basin 300 teammates or Iditarod teammates can do an Olympic caliber training regime from now until March. But, we don't know who are "best dogs" are going to be. This is crucial.
There is so much potential in every dog! We don't want any individual to 'slip through the cracks' of training. Training to win races doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't even happen in a year. It takes patience, time and a willingness to give your future "best dogs" a chance to prove themselves.