My name is Hannah, I'm 21 and run Northlane Siberian Huskies and Seppala Siberian Sleddog Team, a small Siberian husky and Seppala Siberian kennel with my fiancee Dean who is 22. We moved from Stafford, Virginia to Caribou, Maine in September to dive head-first into conditioning/racing. In Virginia I did conformation dog shows and canicross with our dogs. The show world was too cut-throat and cliquey, and I was really interested in letting the dogs do what they were originally bred to do which was run. Seeing friends post about it on Facebook was what got me into mushing instead of showing.
My first experience was on the sled with two of my dogs who had never pulled a sled before, only canicross, and they did great! I was instantly hooked and was out running them at least every other day! All of my dogs are Siberian huskies or Seppala lined Siberians. Their health and drive are my number one priority and that's why I fully health test them (mainly hips at two years old) to make sure they're fit genetically to run safely.
The thing I enjoy the most about my Siberian's is their off switch - their ability to switch between play time and work time - and otherwise goofy behavior. For my Seppala Siberians, it’s their unwavering drive and desire to run and work with the team. They are so different from the average Siberian.
My training regime consists of building dogs up slowly from one mile, to two miles, to 4 and 6 miles and so on until we reach our goal. We want to race mid-distance and built up to just over 30 miles this past season. This was my first season in the racing scene, so I've definitely learned a lot. I want to race competitively, so I keep a close eye on everyone's gait and cut the weakest links from the kennel (I placed two adults this year [into pet homes ] for just that, not keeping up well). I'm out on the trails with my dogs for 3-4 hours at least every other day. I try to split my runs up into two teams instead of just running one, to change up who runs in what position and find who runs best next to each other.
In the off season we still go to conformation shows and do canicross, but this coming off season we're going to start lure coursing and weight pull as new fun things for them to try and stay in shape.
My most memorable experience as a musher was the Can Am Crown this year. I was trusted to run Jessica Holmes’ team of Alaskans for her and meeting her and her family, and many other friends at the Can Am was very heart warming. I loved feeling truly a part of the community.
My advice to new/other mushers would be to never be afraid to ask questions! It’s the best way to make sure you're doing everything correctly and keeping you and your dogs safe.