Tell us a little about yourself and your kennel.
My name is Jean-Pierre Bussio and I come from a small town in South Africa called Clanwilliam in the Western Cape. I moved to Norway about five years ago, for work and to be with my fiancé Heidi Myrtveit. Here in Norway I got involved in mushing.
Our kennel is called Hardcore Mushing but our facebook group is South African Musher. We are in the process of building up a top racing kennel and currently have 16 Siberian huskies. The kennel is still very young and we are working on building a team to compete in race both here in Norway and in Alaska. What makes us special is that I Will be the first South African to compete in a lot of these races.
The main goal is to become the first South African Musher to run and complete several the big races in Norway and Alaska. The biggest race this season 2017/2018 being Femundløpet 400 and Finnmarksløpet 500. We also plan on running in the Iditarod in the future. This will be a great achievement for us and our team and coming from South Africa, it’s an even bigger achievement because who thought a South African would be interested in mushing when we do not even have snow?
What introduced you to dog mushing? What was your first experience like?
One of the first experiences I had as a musher took place in Sweden a couple of years ago, myself and my team of dogs were heading up a mountainside along with two other mushers and their teams. The sun was about to go down, the wind was picking up, then came the snow storm. We were unable to keep up with the others due to us having a much smaller team than the others. We found ourselves alone in a blizzard with no experience. I panicked and shouted to them to slow down, but no one heard me. I had made some plans to drive the team to the lights I saw ahead of me, but then the lead dogs took responsibility and they found the track of the other teams and started following it. I was so amazed at this having never done mushing before. We eventually met up with the other teams again, this was an intense experience, along with my dogs. My adrenaline was pumping and I was totally hooked on the sport of mushing.
Describe the dogs on your team. What about them do you enjoy the most?
Our team is very young. They have great speed and great potential. What I see is that we will compete in the longer races from next season. And the season after that we will do the longest race in Norway and with this we have a goal of being in the top 10 with a Siberian husky team.
What does your training regimen look like? How long are you on the trail with them?
On 1st August, we kick started our training season. We've made a detailed plan for training and competitions this season. I work a full week at my job to afford to care for our dogs and live our passion. We go out to train the team in the afternoons and evenings. Training sessions with dogs can take from up to 4 hours one day, to 12 hours another day, 5-6 days a week. That means there is not much time for anything else, it is very hard work for which we do not shy away from because in the end we would like to live and achieve our dream that we have set for ourselves and our team of amazing dogs....
We also believe like many other top mushers that what you do in training is what your dogs will do in the race, so we are very focused on training what we want our dogs to do in the races.
What do your dogs do in the off season?
Here we mainly do a lot of free running in the ever expanding dog yard. We also like to take trips to town to give our dogs a mental challenge with many new things and challenging them with whatever we can. A lot of our dogs love playing with a tennis ball like our boxer who also comes from South Africa.
What has been your most memorable experience as a dog musher?
This is probably my very first experience as a musher. This will always stick with me and this is where I learnt to trust my leaders and they will trust me.
What’s your advice to other mushers?
My advice is enjoy every minute of it. Pay attention to your dogs and their needs. For us our dogs are like family... No wait, they are family. ;)