18 February 2013

Your 1st Race!

Getting Ready for your Skijoring First Race!

Welcome! By now you have been out with your dog, you both have an idea of what you are doing, and you are ready for a race!

First things first.  Once you have found a race near you, read and understand the rules. The rules have been generated to ensure everyone has a good time and is safe. Following the rules keeps you, your dog, and the other teams all safe.


Be a rule reader, don't ruin someone's race experience.


Is your dog ready? 

You love your dog, but not everyone else will if you have a fear biter or an aggressive dog.  Leave dogs who will not enjoy the experience at home.  At no time should you put the public or another team at risk by bringing an aggressive dog to a race. Hire a good trainer, and try working towards racing another year.

Pick a class.

Pick the class that best suits you, and when in doubt, drop down a class. If this is your very first race, find a novice class. You will have lots of fun, and get a little help out of the chute as well. You will be welcomed, and it's a great place to learn!

If you are a great skier, but your dog won't pull, enter a sport, or recreation class, and stay out of Pro. The Pro classes are for the serious racers, some of whom have been training for years. You can join them after  your dog has a bit more experience.

When in doubt, contact the race organizer, they will be happy to help you find the right class for you.

 Wax On. Wax Off.

Wax your skis! Look ahead for what the temperatures will be at the race, and get your glide wax on. If you need to, remove any of the old wax. If you are taking them in to a ski shop, leave some days between waxing and the event, so that in the event something goes wrong, your skis are still ready for race day. If you are waxing them yourself, take the time and do a good job. You want to be confident that everything is up to speed.

Get your stuff together

Race gear (Something light)
Standing around gear- Snow Pants, heavy coat, warm mitts, comfy boots, warm hat.
Skijor belt
Baited Water
Dog bowls
Paw Wax
Poop bags
Handler- Ask friends or family to help you handle your dogs. In a perfect world you will have one handler per dog.

The night before

If you feed kibble, soak it!.   Don't be changing their diet right before a race, but do soak it in water before you feed them. You want your dogs to have enough water in their systems, so they are ready to perform on race day.

Take the dogs for a quick walk, so they have a chance to go to the bathroom. But don't take them out to exercise them too much either. You want them to have enough energy to go go go ! 

Get a good nights sleep for yourself, and your dogs.  Follow your same nightly routine, this will help relax you and your dogs.    Set your alarm, and leave plenty of time to have a good breakfast and arrive at the mushers meeting. 

We always pack the truck the night before with skis and dog gear.  Then we have a bag by the backdoor that we can grab in the morning.  When we wake up early for a race, we want to just roll right along, and not have any stress of looking for a missing mitt or equipment. 

At the Race...

Read and understand when the classes will be starting. Know your start order. Find out where in your class you are starting, and then wait. Enjoy watching the other teams get started, watch and learn. Leave your dog in the vehicle while you wait. Even in a mid-sized race, you might have an hour or two to wait before your turn. Let your dog rest in a crate in the car, so he is ready for the event.

Do not make the rookie mistake of taking your dog out too early to the starting line. It frustrates your dog having to wait around that long, and it also gets in the way of people trying to get to the starting line with their own dogs.

Do give your dog some baited water before the race and a chance to pee and poop. Some dogs may not want to go at the race site, so it's a good plan to stop somewhere before the race, be sure they have gone before you left home.

It's time!

When its time for you to race, ask your handlers to help you get to the start line. This gives you time to worry about getting your skis on, and your Go-Pro turned on.


There might be all sorts of things on the race course your dogs have not seen before or experienced. Be ready for that, and remember that everything is training! If you plan to have a long racing career with your dogs, the first race is all about building experience. Keep it fun and up-beat. Praise your dogs and enjoy it!

After the Race....

Thank your dog!   Give her some water, check her feet, and give her lots of prasie.  Put her somewhere to rest, and give her a chance to pee.  

Say Thank-you. Lots.

People have worked very hard to put this race together, and on race day sometimes tempers flare, and emotions are high. So go out of your way to say Thank-you to the organizers and volunteers. If it wasn't for them you wouldn't be racing.


Have fun!  


I would love to hear about your first race experience!