15 May 2013

Scooter!

Scootering With Your Best Friend


 
 
If you don't have snow, scootering is the safest way to go! 

Look for a scooter that is built for off road use.  You won't be scootering with your dogs on pavement.  So look for something that has knobby tires, and good
brakes! 

If your dog is trained already to skijor, making the transition to scootering is easy.  

Start without the dogs first, take the scooter around, practise shifting weight from one leg to another.  Try the brakes, learn how they act and react.  Take the scooter down a gradual hill, and over a variety of terrain.  Once you have your scooter legs, under you, then it's time to add a dog. 

Even if you run multiple dogs, start with one dog at a time on the scooter.  You need to be in complete control of the dog and the scooter.   Allow the dog some time to get used to the scooter as well, so keep the runs short to start.




Once you have a feel for what you and the dog are doing, you can add the rest of your team.

Helmets

I used to wear a bike helmet, but bike helmets are mostly meant to protect your forehead is a crash over the handlebars.  I have no switched to a skateboard helmet, which allows more coverage at the back of my head, and just as much coverage at the front as a bike helmet.    

 

Balance


Just like in skijoring, you and your dog are a team.   It's not your dogs job to haul your butt around the trails.  So on a scooter, you will need to be able to kick along to help the dog.   From the start, make sure you are comfortable kicking on either foot.  Wear a good pair of hikes, with grip to stay on the scooter, and enough grip to help kick on the terrain you are riding.  

Hills


Just as on skis, it is your job to maintain the proper speed on hills.  Uphill might require you to hop off the scooter, and push it up.  Downhill will require you to keep an eye on the gangline and keep it taught.  

Brakes


My current scooter has an awesome set of disc brakes.   I have loosened the brakes, so they will still catch and hold the scooter, but think of your brakes a back-up emergency device. 

If you need to stop your dogs, you will need to use your voice commands, just like in skijoring.  The brakes are there for control of the scooter, not control of the dogs.  Applying the brakes too suddenly or strongly can injure the dogs shoulders, or tear their pads.   Always give your team plenty of warning when you plan to stop by using the brakes.

Check It

Before you hit the trail:

1. Tell someone where you are going, and when you plan to return.
2.  Bait plenty of water for the dogs.
3.  Check your dogs for signs of injury.
4.  Check your gear, bolts, ropes, straps, lines. Everything should be in order.
5.  Check the weather forecast. Avoid running your dog if it's hot out.