I feel very privileged to have been trusted to take the Yearling team in the Solstice 50; it was a fantastic learning experience for us all. From the ride in the dog truck, to hooking up in all the chaos, to encountering skiers, snow machines and 30 other teams on the trail - they all coped brilliantly.
The race was one of the the longest runs they had ever done so to keep it happy and fun we stopped four times for snack/rest breaks and kept a steady pace all the way; we pulled into the checkpoint with wagging tails and smiles (me included - the smile I mean). To gently introduce the concept, we parked in one of the vacant camping spots behind the 100 milers and "camped them" for a couple of hours. They all ate a massive kibble meal and lots of snacks then settled, somewhat, into some straw for a while before we loaded them into the truck for the short ride home.
Every dog did a fantastic job!
DINGLE and SPOOG are an interesting combination in lead. DINGLE is so experienced, patient and pretty laid back. I swear he can read trail markers as there were a few times I got a bit confused and said HAW when I actually should have said GEE - he respectfully ignored me; knowing all the other teams had gone GEE. SPOOG is an up-and-coming leader and he is so earnest in is work; he's very keen to do it right and pulls hard from start to finish.
LYDIA and JUNIOR worked well together in swing position. JUNIOR got a little hyped up at the truck with the other teams close by but soon settled into her work once we got away from the start and on to trails she knew. LYDIA loped the whole way and wasn't fazed by all the passing manoeuvres (being passed) we had to do. She shows great confidence and maturity already.
DUTCH ran on his own and got into a great rhythm very early. He ate every snack and showed good manners around the other teams. All three of those things are important in a sled dog.
I love running IRON and DRIVER together. They have a great energy and seem to be good mates. In training, DRIVER mostly lopes and he can look kinda goofy with his long legs and floppy ears but after about 30 miles he settled into a trot and looked really powerful and business-like. IRON always looks great when he runs, he's a good looking dog!
SANDY and KODIAK kept a great pace in wheel. KODIAK won the prize for being the coolest and calmest at the truck waiting to go. It was bedlam around him and he just sat; taking it all in. SANDY got down to business quickly and is very efficient - she's an unassuming young lady and an important part of the team.
I am very happy to point you in the direction of the dog page to check the yearlings' race history - it no longer says "None"! And don't worry: CHIPPER, WOODY and WEDGY's time will come.
Thank you to Wes, Bridgett and Scotty, Ray, Ryne and Mark for your help on Saturday. (And, of course, Aliy, Allen and Meghan)