Skijoring with Dogs
As a winter sport, skijoring involves a cross-country skier being pulled by a dog, horse or motor vehicle.
Wearing a skijoring harness, the skier is connected by rope or bungee cord — usually about eight feet long — to a dog wearing a sled dog harness. Rock climbing belts with leg loops are sometimes desirable to keep the belt in position. More than one dog can be used if faster speed is desired or the skijorer requires more pulling power. In this case, a longer line is used. The control of the dog is accomplished by the skijorer’s commands to the dog for direction and, for safety, quick-release connections are available to rapidly unhook the skijorer from the dog or team of dogs.
Energetic dogs are best for skijoring, as their innate motivation and desire to run greatly assist the skijorer. Although mostly strong and athletic dogs, such as Setters, Pointers, Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, Samoyed, Malamutes, Inuits and herding breeds are typically seen participating in this sport, any size dog can participate since the skijorer can provide as much or as little skiing power required to travel cross country. Labs, Retrievers, Schnauzers and many mixed breeds make great skijoring companions.
For long distance travel and short distances, skijoring is enjoyed both recreationally and competitively.
Competitive Skijoring with Dogs
Skijor races — usually between 5 kilometers and 20 kilometers — have become popular in countries that have snow in winter and are sometimes held in conjunction with sled dog races, especially in the United States and Canada. Many types of dog breeds are used for skijor races, including Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, German Shorthaired Pointers and mixed breeds, such as Pointers/Greyhounds.
Other Types of Skijoring
Equestrian skijoring is also popular as a method of winter travel or competitive sport. In the 1928 Winter Olympics, skijoring with horses was presented as a demonstration sport. Competitions in which a rider guides the horse while the skier performs a series of turns and jumps and navigates obstacles are held in North America. Competitions are also popular in France in which a riderless horse is guided by the skier.
All-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles have become recently become more popular methods of skijoring. Several skiers can be pulled at once because of the extra pulling power.